Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Scottish Cottage Wall

A few weeks ago we stripped all the plaster off one of the walls in our old cottage sitting room. This was a wall which had been slightly damp for years and years, and every possible cure had been tried, inside and out, on roof, chimney, walls. Eventually our friendly builder intimated that the plaster itself had turned 'sour' and the only cure was to strip the whole thing off, with the possibility of adding a false wall, with a space behind to allow air to circulate. In the event, the stonework behind the plaster (which was indeed very sour) was so beautiful that we decided to point it up and leave it. It became clear, moreover, that when the cottage was built (some time between 1808 and 1811) it was never intended that these walls should be plastered at all - hence the problems on this, the chimney wall. What really fascinated us though, was the sight of the 200 year old lintel stone, which had once sat on top of an enormous old fireplace - you can see it in the picture, with a layer of ancient soot along the edge. This would have been the kind of fireplace where all the cooking went on, possibly, back then, with an old fashioned metal 'swee' to swing the pans in and out, over the flames. High in the wall to the left is a very definite space - either for a lamp, or a candle, or just possibly for keeping the salt dry. We're not sure - but a candle looks very nice sitting in it!
The other surprise is just what a change it makes to the room - opening it out somehow, and making it, possibly the darkest room in the house, seem much lighter and altogether warmer. The stonework will, I hope, look even nicer at Christmas time, when I get going with the holly and ivy!


Piping Girl said...

This sounds really fascinating. You should post a picture of it.

Catherine Czerkawska said...

I'll try, come Christmas!