With our exploration under the floorboards continuing, Tricia Pope, a volunteer in the Hall, talks us through some of her experiences with the project so far…
I spent Wednesday chaperoning sub-contractors working on the fire alarm and re-cabling project. No idea what to expect; vague vision of standing over suitably cowed work-men and scowling terribly, if they even looked like they were going to do something to endanger the fabric of the house.
The reality could not have been more different. I spent a lot of time flat on my stomach shining a torch into a cavity under the floorboards, looking at a duplicate of the cornice on the ceiling above me. This was part of the Long Gallery, removed by Sir John Soane at the end of the 18th Century to make way for the Yellow Drawing Room.
Assisting Mary to hoover out another cavity full of coal dust, our second find was under the raised floorboards of what had been a coal cupboard. The original floor of the cupboard was covered in a very early type of patterned flooring.
Having spent all my working life working with people, the interest and curiosity I experienced, helping with this project, really opened my eyes to a whole new world of thought and practice. I look forward to my next session of chaperoning, but need to remember an important lesson I learned. Don’t wear a cashmere cardigan if I am going to be lying flat on the floor!