Heating system will protect antiques at Lincolnshire's Belton House

Contractors are installing a state-of-the-art heating system at a Lincolnshire stately home to help protect its priceless contents from damage.

The £500,000 conservation heating project at Belton House near Grantham uses a computerized system to control humidity levels.

The project at the 17th Century stately home will be completed by next March.

The National Trust property had more than 250,000 visitors in 2011.

'Cracked' furniture

"What we are trying to do is create an environment that is comfortable for our collections - not necessarily for the people who are working here," National Trust manager David Fitzer said.

"We're putting in a whole new heating system into the mansion and this will be a computer-controlled system," he said.

Mr Fitzer said the aim was to control the humidity levels in the house, which was built in the late 1600s.

"It's about the humidity - if you think of all your furniture as a sponge what happens is the furniture absorbs the humidity around it and when the humidity reduces then it … contracts."

Image caption Staff have covered up many of the antiques during the work

He added: "The scale of the work is mind boggling. It's a logistical nightmare. It was around a week's work before we ever let the contractor in."

The Trust has also submitted a planning application for a £1m indoor playground at the property's former riding school as part of a £6.5m revamp.

Belton House is closed from November until March, but the grounds and shops remain open at weekends and most days during the Christmas period.

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