THE painstaking process of cleaning centuries old armour worn by soldiers in the English Civil War has been revealed at Bolton's historic Smithills Hall.

The armour, which includes a steel breastplate and pot helmet, is thought to be from 1620 and was worn by members of the infantry during the conflict from 1642 to 1649.

It will be featured as part of an exhibition detailing the 700 year old history of Smithills Hall, from the building of the Great Hall in stone in the 1300s to the First World War and beyond.

Pierrette Squires, conservator for Bolton Museum and Art Gallery, cleaned the armour by applying micro-crystalline wax using a cotton bud.

She said: "This sort of armour is more important than we thought at first. Considering it's 500 years old, it's in really good condition.

"Unfortunately, when this armour was cleaned in the past it will have been dipped in acid, which causes corrosion.

"But cleaning it should take less time than expected — I'm hoping to have finished cleaning it within just under two weeks.

"This armour will tell people the story the English Civil Wars and should help bring our country's past to life a bit more."

The exhibition will begin in the hall's medieval kitchen and will feature a timeline starting in 1335, along with various artefacts, pictures and text.

It is expected to launch prior to the annual Smithills Hall garden party on July 26.

Ann Marie Elliott-Clark, from Friends of Smithills Hall, said: "I think this exhibition will bring a new lease of life to Smithills Hall.

"There will be activities for all ages and it will hopefully bring more children to the hall — it's an exciting project."

Christine Collins, Bolton Council's historical halls manager, added: "We have been working on this exhibition for a number of months and we expect it to be in full flow by the summer."

The next armour cleaning session at Smithills Hall is tomorrow from 10am to 3pm.

Admission is £1 and free for under-fives. Booking is not required.

The Bolton News: HISTORIC: Conservator Pierrette Squires pictured cleaning armour, a pikeman's corselet and helmet from around 1620 at Smithills Hall