As its been a warm autumn into winter so far, all the site projects are progressing really well, as we aren’t having to work round frost or snow. We have welcomed experience historic building Architect Ruth Scally to our team in the last few months and she’s been a godsend.
We have lots of projects on-site at the moment: two are over near Cambridge
One is a medieval Hall house, where we have completed the frame repairs and are finishing the plastering. We are just about to start the roof repairs, now we are out of the bat breeding season. We’ve discovered whilst doing the roof works, that the house was originally a 14th Century aisled house structure (like you see in barns with side aisles). Then in the 15th Century, they raised the roof to add a first floor, leaving a few of the older aisle rafters in place.
The other Cambridge project is a Georgian House where we are doing a basement and ground floor courtyard extension to create an indoor swimming pool, cinema and gym. We know the house had a former Georgian service wing on the rear, but we weren’t quite prepared on finding the remnants of:
a Georgian basement , an arched Georgian tunnel 1m wide and 1/2m high and about 40m long which took water from the basement to the lake, former service wing footing and 5 (yes 5) brick rainwater holding tanks which would have been used for washing laundry in the main house! Phew – let’s hope there won’t be anymore surprises!
We have another project on-site in Brentwood, again this is a medieval Hall house and we have just uncovered the rumoured priest hole, which the owner had found mentioned in a book. Priest holes, were the hiding places, often in large houses, where the family would hide their Catholic priest during the reign of Henry VIII & Elizabeth I, when it was illegal to practice Catholicism, due to the newly formed Church of England and the newly formed Church of England. No-one knew where the priest hole was, but we had a suspicion it was behind the main fireplace, as this is the classic location. Sure enough after the builder removed some shelving for wine, it has exposed a little door that would have been hidden and accessed by walking into the fireplace into a secret space between the back of the fireplace and rear wall of the house.
We also have a project on-site near Epping, which is a 16th century lobby entrance farmhouse. The house was much altered in the 1970s with a large extension and new roof which encompassed it all. The owner was interested in the houses history and rather than knock it down and start again, they found old drawings of what the farmhouse had once looked like, with a steep pitched clay tile roof and decorative chimneys. We are therefore reinstating the former roofs and building a new extension to compliment the original house. During opening up, we discovered the Georgian wing was actually constructed of lovely red bricks. We also have found some former blocked up windows with brick gauged headers and we are therefore going to expose the brick walls internally and reinstate the windows.
We’ve been really lucky to work with the Michelin-Starred Chef, Daniel Clifford, on his new restaurant: The Flitch of Bacon in Little Dunmow. This fascinating building was originally a Georgian House and then became a Brewhouse in the late 18th Century. Then in the 19th Century following various Alcohol Act’s, the building was extended with a cellar and rear wings and converted into a proper Victorian public house. The Victorian building had a private bar on the left, which was table service and a public bar on the right, which served cheaper ale from the bar. Daniel Clifford lives locally. Upon seeing the local closed down, took the decision to purchase it. With him, we have carefully renovated the listed building and extended it, adding a high-end professional Kitchen, prep-kitchen, accessible Wcs and Interior Designer, Jo Francis, has created the beautiful interiors. Outside there is a cool garden oven and seating terrace, with drinks served from a vintage VW van. Upstairs there are three luxury overnight Bedrooms with a roll top bath and 4 poster bed. The building work has just completed and from December will be open to the public. Please do go along and try out the food in this gorgeous building. It really is the best local anyone could wish for and you’ll no doubt be hearing more about it in the press.
The name of the pub “The Flitch of Bacon” is likely to have been given circa 1869 to the building. It was at this time that Dunmow revived the old custom that was started by the family of Robert Fitzwalter in Little Dunmow Priory in the C15th.
” The custom known as the flitch of bacon was—”that if any pair could, after a twelve month of matrimony, come forward, and make oath at Dunmow, that, during the whole time, they had never had a quarrel, never regretted their marriage, and, if again open to an engagement, would make exactly that they had made, they should be rewarded with a flitch of Bacon”
Not sure any of us would pass the “never had a quarrel” test after 12 months of marriage!
The new north transept room and organ balcony at Galleywood Church near Chelmsford have now been completed and the new spaces, behind beautifully carved oak screens, are being used by the youth groups. The relocated organ is now resplendent at the rear of the church (a much better position for the sound, as it was original in a side transept) and just in time for the Christmas Carol services!
We have lots and lots of projects in the design stage.. too many to mention and not lose you.. but watch this space as we have two new projects to arts and crafts houses both starting on-site in February!