New sole plates, scarfed frames and new window frames ready to receive the replacement windows.
The frame has been repaired and the sole-plate largely replaced on account of large quantities of unseen rot within the heart of the beams. Three RSJs spanning the width of the cottage were inserted immediately under the sole plate. Beneath the ends of these beams, a simple pot-jack was positioned on wooden chocks within the masonry wall. This allowed for controlled and incremental raising of the entire frame, up to six inches in the south west corner. The entire process took two hours.
The proposal is to incorporate a double fronted wood-burning stove in the chimney stack at ground level. This has involved knocking through from front to back of the chimney. Before that, we undertook repairs to the stack within the building, reinforcing it with helibars set into resin within the lime mortar coursing of the brickwork. This is now complete and starts to give a real feeling of connectivity between the spaces at ground level.
It’s been a while since we last posted, that’s because there’s been a lot going on, particularly in the way of frame repairs. We always knew the sole plate was going to be an issue, and so it has proved to be. There was considerable hidden rot within the sole plate, much of which has been caused by water ingress leading to wet-rot and beetle infestations. Where possible and where more than 75% of the sectional area of frame remains intact, we’ve been saving the wood. Where rot is extensive, we’ve carefully supported the frame and scarfed in matching timber.
The chimney stack has been something of a worry. On closer inspection, the top of the stack was found to be structurally unsound and in need of urgent repair and restoration. We couldn’t face the idea of the stack falling down through the rooms below.
The chimney has been pointed in the past with cement. This has badly damaged the brickwork. Historic settlement and the subsidence in 2015 has opened some alarming cracks, especially in the west elevation (see above). The cement flaunching has cracked and made matters worse by enabling water ingress down the entire flue. The state of the flue also suggests it has smoked a lot in the past, the soot being evident on exterior surfaces and within the roof void.
We chose to carefully dismantle and rebuild the chimney using the existing bricks. Dismantling proved to be much easier than expected, the old lime mortar being rotten and now devoid of any strength. The coursing of the bricks and the structure looks as if it was build by a carpenter!
We’ve taken the chimney down to a safe point below the roof line where the mortar is reasonably sound. The bricks have been cleaned and set aside for reuse.
The cottage has yielded one or two interesting little trinkets, this is not surprising given the age of the building. here are our favourites:
Grubbing around in the Thames Estuary you might find any number of the hollow clay stems associated with the traditional tobacco pipes – we found this almost complete clay pipe when clearing out the debris from the larger of the two sheds. We wonder if this belonged to Fred Joscelyne the blacksmith (see pages 5 and 11 of the Heritage Assessment).
We’ve taken delivery of some oak (for the sole plate) and douglas fir for the corner posts – we can move forwards now.