We often get called in to check everyday repair work inside our great mansions, electric cabling, loose flagstones or finding where water is getting into the building. This kind of watching brief (monitor and record) gives us a chance to look beneath floorboards and behind paneling, it provides an opportunity to see how the buildings were put together and more importantly any changes done through time.
At Kingston Lacy wiring and ceiling checks are being done in some of the rooms with just a few floorboards being lifted. Having found scraps of original wallpapers and notes left by previous workmen during work like this in the past we were called in to record anything we could see.
In the saloon we found that a lot of the material between the joists had been removed in the past with just a few wood shavings and the odd nail left behind. The most interesting areas were accessible via the doorway, with just enough room to dangle my camera into the void and between the joists. I set it to do 10 shots on the self timer setting and hoped for the best. This technique is a good way to see down and along voids, it had produced good results in the past at Chedworth roman villa when checking for hypocausts and wall alignments.
We were not disappointed an odd metal concertina like heating system, a large vaulted void, Pratt bricks from the original mansion, (now encased in stone) and an intriguing door mechanism.
The Saloon is entered and connected to other rooms by double doors, the lifting of the floor boards revealed how they opened exactly together, even when just pushing gently on only one door. This would help servants when carrying trays open the doors without putting the tray down or needing someone to help them, also when entering or exiting the room with swishing skirts ladies could move effortlessly through the doorways.
It works by using what look like bicycle chains and smooth cogs, a simple but effective mechanism.
There are more planned surveys to be done at Kingston Lacy in other rooms, I wonder what awaits to be found under the next floorboard………….