Karen Teideman-Barrett, Conservation Architect at Donald Insall talks about designing the replacement balcony and stair at the Folly entrance.
Work is underway at the Folly and the Towers and Walls are covered in scaffold. Earlier in the project, the only way into the Gothic Tower was through the basement and squeezing through a narrow opening into the Ground Floor and, at the same time, ensuring that the pigeons kept out.
We know from historic photographs of the Folly, that there was a wooden stair leading to a balcony in front of the main entrance into the Tower. This would have been in use during the time that the Tower was the Game keeper’s cottage, from 1805 until the late 1920s. By the 1970s, this outside staircase was in very poor condition and had almost collapsed and so was taken down. Now, a new balcony and stair is to be constructed in place of the former stair.
Using historic photographs as our starting point, we took detailed measurements of the brickwork on the rear of the tower; we examined brick pockets in the walls that once held timber joists which supported the balcony; we looked at dark shadow lines on the brick where the stair was once positioned.
On the ground close to the Tower, investigation work by Oxford Archaeology has uncovered yellow brick paths around the door to the Basement. These brick paths helped to position the stair and to judge its scale and width. Some more soil may be cleared away from this area to see how far the brick extends around the basement entrance.
Having collected all this information we are able to develop the stair design and produce scaled drawings so that a new timber stair can be made and installed. The reconstruction of the balcony will make sense of the two doors at the back of the Tower and will provide access so that the interior can be maintained.