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Guest blog, Southwood Estate

The big reveal, and other discoveries…

Treleddyd Fawr Cottage  The story so far… #5

by Sarah Green, Curator and Treledddyd Fawr Cottage project manager

Scaffolding gone...

First glimpse of the cottage without its scaffolding – February 21st 2015

Builder Phil Yates and the team waved goodbye to the scaffolding at the end of February (with no great regrets ?) and then got on with clearing around the cottage. They now have much better access to the outbuildings have been working on what will be the utilities room in the upper range of the outbuildings, opposite the back door of the cottage.

Rear of the cottage looking east – bathroom fan-vent well disguised as rustic chimney. New roof on the outbuildings behind.

The outbuildings have new tin roofs (the previous corrugated asbestos cement has been safely removed from site).

South-eastern corner of the cottage showing traces of red ochre remaining under layers of lime-wash, Snowcem and resin-based material.

As soon as the weather allows (i.e. when a best guess is that temperatures will remain above 4 degrees centigrade) work will start on repointing and then lime-washing the external walls. This opens an interesting debate as to their eventual colour. This isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. Although in recent years the cottage has gleamed pearl-like in its hillside setting when seen from a distance against the dark backdrop of Carn Perfedd and Carn Treliwyd, Rob Scourfield, the conservation officer of the National Park, would like to see a return to the original red oxide. Fragments of this colour are still visible on the external wall (and it seems to have formerly been the main colour inside the cottage as well).

At the moment we are mindful of what people are used to seeing  (and painting and photographing) and it would be good to know what both locals and visitors think about this.

Parlour interior (November 2014) showing red ochre plaster (revealed under layers of wallpaper).

Other important external work completed includes the installation of the new sewerage system and associated drainage – this plant is tucked away in the corner of the enclosure to the east of the cottage and to date (fingers crossed) we have no new water bodies of any sort appearing…

Having said that, drainage has obviously been a real problem for the property in the past, as we discovered during preparatory works for the new floor in the kitchen and dining areas…

Looking towards the front door from inside the kitchen – is it a path?

Removal of the modern concrete screed in the main room of the cottage and the kitchen revealed some slate slabs underneath, which at first sight looked like the remains of a slate floor still in situ. However, the slates were confined to a line, like a path, between the rear of the cottage and the front door (seen in the photograph above). They had been overlain by a thin layer of earth, which might once have been a floor (beaten earth floors were traditional – as can be seen at the National History Museum at St Fagan’s).

6

Looking towards the rear wall of the kitchen from the kitchen door after removal of the path-like covering of slates.

After the slates had been photographed they were removed and then it became obvious, worryingly, that this feature was in fact a drain which ran the width of the house from the rear wall of the kitchen (in the photograph above) and out under the threshold of the front door. The date of this drain is hard to determine but its course respects the position of the partitions and the staircase, so it is probably of the same date as, or later than, those features.

North-east corner of the simne fawr – where a bread oven is just visible.

The bread oven after excavation of its interior.

Remnants of a printed floor-covering in the parlour, found under layers of carpet and laid on top of quarry tiles.


The west end of the parlour, showing a floor of quarry tiles in front of the fireplace and range.
Part of the floor in the parlour consists of quarry tiles, which we will keep, relaying them only where strictly necessary. The rest of the ground floor had been covered in a concrete screed in fairly recent years and underneath it, of earlier date, we found only the slate-covered drain and possibly a beaten-earth floor, so we have decided to resurface the rest of this floor with 9-inch square quarry tiles, like those still in situ in the parlour. Luckily we will be able to recycle tiles of similar type and age from a cottage in south Pembrokeshire. In the parlour the recycled tiles will adjoin the existing tiles but will be laid to a recognisably different, open-joint pattern. In the new passage and dining area, to the east of the parlour, we will lay the recycled tiles to the same distinctive pattern, but they will follow the present contours of the floor, sloping gently to the front door.

Lesley Taylor, Holiday Cottage Area Supervisor and I have been to check out, and admire, the set-piece period cottages at St Fagan’s National History Museum. We came away with a strengthened vison for the cottage at Treleddyd Fawr: how we can furnish it without destroying its strong sense of place, and at the same time make it robust enough for a successful future as a holiday cottage.

 

Project team meeting in the site hut, January 2015, when Paul Boland, General Manager Mid and South East Wales Coast and Countryside came to share his experience of restoring the Llanerchaeron estate.

We’re opening the cottage for short guided tours of this restoration work on Saturday 18th.  Please book a place by phoning the St Davids Visitor Centre and Shop on 01437 720 385

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