As the building work is now well under way we thought it would be a nice idea for the site staff and volunteers to get an idea of what is going on under all the scaffolding by offering them the chance of a tour up the enormous structure that now dominates the south-east side of the house.
The house guide volunteers particularly have only seen the impact of the project from the inside with the protection tunnel that runs the length of the East front show rooms. So it was a good opportunity to expand their knowledge and in turn better help them understand and explain to the visitors what is going on outside and above their heads and why we have had to make the necessary changes in the house.
So once the interested volunteers were dressed in the statutory safety gear; steel top capped boots, hi-vis vests and hard hats, Pauline the Premises manager led groups up the four scaffold levels.
She explained at each level the progress already made and some of the interesting things we had found, such as the writing by the previous plasterers in 1891 on the back of the show room paneling, the level of decay in areas where water had penetrated, samples of the concrete render that had been removed and some of the more modern, attempts at repair.
By far the most dramatic level is the roof where all the tiles have now been stripped back and stacked up on the storage area revealing the skeleton of the house. It is a weird, and for some, emotional experience seeing the house reduced to its bare bones and feels more like standing on a film set than on the roof a 15thcentury house.
It gives a real insight into the building techniques of the day good and bad and sometimes makes you wonder how it still survives today.
Those who attended seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed the tours which were also offered to visitors throughout September. As one steward said “I thought you were just doing some re-pointing”!! If only – it would certainly have been a lot cheaper!