A Recording Session

005 MyddletonThe Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has invited me to talk tomorrow at its advanced building conservation school about the historical recording that’s been taking place on my cottages. This work has been aimed at gaining a greater understanding of the property’s history in order to inform the renovation plans. Delegates will also visit my home during the afternoon as part of a tour that local surveyor Tony Chapman and I are conducting for them of Saffron Walden’s medieval core, which includes a trip, too, to see the town archives. The session on recording takes place afterwards at 1 Myddylton Place (www.onemyddlytonplace.co.uk) (pictured), the historic home of Tony and his family, where we’ll be dining as well.

 

There are four principal strands to my recording. The first has involved researching documentary sources and I’m very fortunate that the excellent town library is just around the corner. This preliminary research has been complemented by on-site investigations. The second strand, consequently, has comprised an archaeological survey, including architectural paint research and wallpaper analysis. Cathy Littlejohn, a director at Hare & Humphreys Ltd (www.hare-humphreys.co.uk), which has been carrying out the paint research for me, is also lecturing at Myddlyton Place tomorrow. The third and fourth strands of my recording have entailed a measured survey along with photography and filming. Although the recording is informing the project, further discoveries are being made during the renovation work that advance my understanding of the property’s history. Future blogs will reveal more.

Conservation on Camera

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My cottages are due to feature in Britain’s Empty Homes Revisited on BBC television this week (Monday 18 February on BBC 1 at 11.45am, repeated on BBC 2 at 7.50am the next day). This is a follow-up to last year’s programme. The camera crew came a few weeks ago to film the very recently conserved pargeting and their visit coincided with a tour of the cottages and town that I was hosting for post-graduate students from the University of Cambridge. Amongst the other buildings we saw was 1   Myddlyton Place (the old Youth Hostel), where we stopped for tea and heard about the renovation work not long completed by the Chapman family. Also grade I-listed, this is another property, like mine, that was once in the custodianship of the SPAB (www.onemyddlytonplace.co.uk).

 

The conservation of the pargeting on my cottages has been my most pressing task. Areas of the parge-work – which is of exceptional interest and highly unusual – were very weak and it was questionable whether they could all be saved. Huge credit is due to Torquil McNeilage and his team who have undertaken a once-in-a-generation programme of specialist repairs using state-of-the-art techniques. Future blogs will explain about this extensive work – all of which, to date, has been funded without any external grant aid. An abiding memory I have will be seeing the newly conserved pargeting bathed in gentle sunshine after the scaffolding was struck. The project had reached a major milestone and the church bells opposite were ringing as if to celebrate!