Hole in the Wall

Over the years we have been lucky in finding a succession of folk to do the maintenance we cannot do- which is most of it. Currently our friend Chuck and his helpers John and Alan do the building and decorating work. A few weeks back Chuck noticed that a few of the bricks were decaying and so we asked him to replace them. WP_20140410_016ed

This process produced a rain of fragments and dust but also the discovery that the damaged bricks turned out to have something a bit unusual behind them. Namely…



Nothing.  It turned out that the bricks removed were part of a single brick layer, not the usual double one. I went up the ladder to get a photo, found the Lumix was too big to fit through the hole, so went down to get my mobile to slip it inside to take what you might call a holie.


..or perhaps a handie. Let’s try that ‘taking a useful photo’ thing again, shall we?


What emerges in the subsequent pictures is the inside of a long-closed off chimney. Looking down the bottom appears to be covered in sand. The wall materials are covered by soot layers, but from the outside you can see that most of it must be brick. However Chuck pointed out that the bottom corner of the wall is actually stone, mostly hidden under a thin render. So that corner would be another section left from  the earlier house that was almost completely destroyed in the 18th Century fire I talked about in an earlier post. The view upwards is less clear, with what looks like a rather puzzling metal grid visible near the top.


While we sort of knew there must have been a chimney there at some time is was  interesting to actually see inside  it. Unlike another closed off chimney in the house the chimney stack for this one is missing- or is it?

P1160567ed copy

This is the wall above where the inside photos were taken. Notice the change in brickwork on the top left where we reach the gutter line.  My guess is that when the house was first rebuilt this was a flat lead-covered roof, similar to the one that still exists out of shot to the left. If so the present sloping roof was probably added in the 19th Century when two generations of builders lived in the house. If you look very closely at the triangular brick section to the right you see that there is a point where the bricks do not interlock. I suspect that the builder dismantled the top of the chimney to take it down to where the new sloping roof would came and then just used the best of the  bricks he had removed to fill in the little triangle of space left between the stack and the right hand wall. Not the neatest or most workmanlike solution but I suspect ‘quick and easy’ mattered more than style to whoever did the work!

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4 Responses to Hole in the Wall

  1. Fascinating, the stories and secret houses keep. Our house is certainly nowhere near as old as yours but when we first looked into renovating/rebuilding it, we explored the attic with our architect and she pointed out that the house must have had a flat roof originally instead of the gabled one it had then (which we turned into another floor with a barrel roof to boot). I’m not sure what prompted my great-grandfather to make the change but it certainly paid off — at the end of WWII, my grandmother hid in the attic with her young sons while Soviet soldiers tore the house apart downstairs. They could hear them walking around downstairs but were not discovered themselves as the entrance to the attic was not obvious to strangers. Easy enough to guess what would have happened to a relatively young and rather attractive widow if she had been found …

    • Trifocal says:

      Thank you for posting that story. Living in England it is hard for most people to imagine the realities of occupation. But my mother vividly remembered as a child seeing soldiers come to the family house to search for her father. He was not there at the time and fortunately went through the whole war without being caught. In that case the soldiers thrusting bayonets into the roof thatch were English. Sixty years later she still remembered the name, rank and regiment of the officer who led that search. When she was a little older and the war was over she left Ireland to work in England, much later marrying an Englishman.
      A hundred years after the start of the First World War we can see photos of Europe’s Rosetta probe reaching its target with great precision, after a ten year long voyage. Yet at the same time our tv screens show a European country being torn apart by civil war. What an extraordinary thing human nature is…

  2. Patti Kuche says:

    Those single bricks were certainly hiding so much!

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