Tag Archives: Interiors

Work continues on our Georgian Hearse House

In October of last year, after completing work on St Helen’s Church, the Buildings Team began work beside the church’s graveyard on a Georgian Hearse House.  It will help us to tell a more complete and in-depth story of our Georgian area. When finished, it will house one of the rarest objects in our collections; probably Britain’s oldest hearse, built in 1828. The simple two-wheeled hearse was collected by the Museum in the 1960s from Marrick Priory, a former Benedictine nunnery in the Swaledale area of North Yorkshire. This early and vernacular horse-drawn vehicle is exceptionally rare, and perhaps more so, as we are aware of its origin and history. We even have a record of its very first occupant, as the Marrick Priory registry records: ‘1828 April 2nd, Mary widow of Thomas Hillary [a farmer], Lanehead House, aged 67, Hearse first time used’. The completion of the hearse house at St Helen’s Church will mean that this amazing object will now have a permanent home of its own and be on display to the public for the first time in decades.

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The Marrick Priory hearse, built 1828

Our stone-built hearse house is a copy of the one at Marrick Priory which originally housed this hearse and is contemporary with our church, although it incorporates earlier elements of the Priory church.

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Marrick Priory Hearse House, North Yorkshire

The building is progressing quickly and the main structure is now complete. Paul and Cos have finished all of the stonework, while Shaun and Dan were responsible for the joinery in the building, including the roof structure and doors. The roofers are now busy working on laying the stone slab for the roof.

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The completed building, just waiting to be roofed

Once the exterior of the building has been completed, we will then turn our attention to the interior. Our newest team member, Shannon, has been researching the interiors of these kinds of buildings in order to inform how our own will look when finished.

 

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Exciting discovery at Spain’s Field

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The remains of a Georgian beehive bread oven has been discovered at Spain’s Field

Last Friday we made an exciting discovery at Spain’s Field. After taking out the mid-Victorian range in the main living room, we found behind it the remains of a Georgian brick-built beehive bread oven. These types of bread ovens were known as beehives because of their conical form – the traditional shape for a beehive. It is similar in construction to the one at Pockerley Old Hall back at Beamish. Originally, the rear of the oven would have bulged out beyond the gable wall, as the one at Pockerley does, but at Spain’s Field, this was destroyed and filled in when the kitchen and additional bedroom were squeezed in between the older house and the cow byre. The front of the oven has been largely destroyed with the insertion of the newer range.

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The exterior of the beehive bread oven at Pockerley Old Hall is visible just behind the hedge. 

We suspected that there might be a beehive oven present because of the of the visible scarring in the stone work that could be seen behind the Victorian range, as well as the odd building lines in the exterior wall of the gable end. Additionally, the large bressumer (load-bearing) beam that ran from the interior of the external wall to the doorway, indicated that there had been an open inglenook hearth before the range, possibly with a peat plate and oven crane. The bread oven seems to date from the mid-Georgian period given the bricks used to make it.

 

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In this photo the remains of the bread oven can be just about seen in the top right corner, with the Victorian range in front. 

We also uncovered the stone shelves of a former salt cupboard behind the later Victorian kitchen cupboard, which were built into the gable end wall. The salt cupboard would have been used to store and keep dry salt, spices and potentially other valuable items. The discovery of the oven helps to confirm our feeling that the older section of the farm house is early to mid-Georgian, and adds another layer of understanding to the story of the farm and its occupants. Beehive ovens were common in farms and houses in the area, indeed Thrush Nest (eventually owned by the same family who lived at Spain’s Field), which is just down the valley has one too. However, as happened at Spain’s Field, many were buried or destroyed by the addition of later ranges, making Spain’s Field’s a fairly rare survivor. The mid- Victorian range that was installed in front of the oven was made by Altham’s of Penrith, who were a well known local ironmongers that were established in 1831. Though damaged by rust and vandalism, the range was clearly high-quality and suggests that the occupants of Spain’s Field at that time were not too badly off- indeed they had enough money to purchase the range and make improvements to their farmhouse.

The oven and range have now been carefully recorded in situ and dismantled as part of the translocation of the farm buildings.

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The daily grind at Spain’s Field

Paul and CosAs well as recording the buildings at Spain’s Field Farm, we’ve been recording us at work on the project. Here are a few of our favourite photos of life as we know it at Spain’s Field – in all weather!

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The preparations are almost finished!

It’s been a busy old few months for the buildings team, with work on the Chemist’s and Photographer’s taking a lot of time and effort – in advance of the opening early in May.

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Shaun’s team have finished all the external shop front, the internal counters, drug-runs, shelving, and panelling. The scaffolding came down recently and Sarah Jarman has been busy sign-writing.

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Inside the Chemist the finishing touches of ‘set-dressing’ are being led by Clara, with the Aerated Waters plant and gas lighting currently undergoing their final installations.

We think you’ll agree that it’s looking fantastic!

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Colour and detail arrives at the Chemist’s

As we hurtle towards our official opening in May, paint is going on the walls, the shop front is being sign-written, and the fireplace surround has been fitted.

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Sarah working on the sign-writing on the Chemist shop front

Sarah Jarman, our contract sign-writer has been working through the cold weather to bring the shop front alive. Clara and Sarah’s design for the fascia boards and wall panels are based upon shop fronts from the period. Victorian chemist shops were often very elaborate and full of advertising, intended to promote the various remedies that they sold. The windows of our Chemist’s will also be covered in raised lettering to indicate that alongside more conventional medicines, chemists and pharmacies sold photographic materials, surgical appliances and veterinary medicines.

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Examples of  late Victorian and Edwardian Chemist shop fronts

Inside the walls of the chemist have been painted a dark red by Neil Harker, our contract painter and decorator. The colour was very popular during the mid-Victorian era following the Gothic revival, lead by architects such as Pugin.Shaun has also made a beautiful surround for the fireplace which incorporates a pair of 1840s shop corbels. The botanical carvings on the corbels compliment the painted glass Tudor roses on the shelving unit that will be fitted  and the floral motifs on the column, which has already been installed in the corner of the shop.

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Shaun standing with the new fireplace surround in the Chemist

 

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Progress on W. Smith’s Chemist and Photographer’s

As we head towards the opening of the Chemist and Photographer’s in late Spring, and despite the snow, the Buildings Team have begun work on installing the period fixtures and fittings that will help to bring the new exhibit to life.

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Shaun standing behind the shop counter in the reception area of the Photographer’s Studio.

In the Photographer’s, Shaun and his team have nearly finished fitting the impressive mahogany panels that will form the divide between the reception and studio. The shop counter has also been installed, which  has been made from the bottom sections of more of the mahogany panels (learn more about the Joinery Team’s work on the Chemist and Photographer’s here). The panelling will also continue along the walls of the corridor of the reception up to dado rail height, with specially reproduced wallpaper above.

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The wallpaper that will be used in the Photographer’s Studio will be a reproduction of this 1907 sample.

The wallpaper is a copy of a pattern that was available to purchase from the Co-op in 1907. Clara found it in a catalogue that is in Beamish’s archives. It was chosen firstly because of its colour – ‘pea green’ was according to P. C. Duchochois’ 1891 book Lighting the Photographic Studio, a favourite with photographers due to its light reflecting qualities. It also has an Art Nouveau motif printed on it. By the early 1900s Art Nouveau had evolved from being an avant garde style, which originated in Paris to being one of the most popular and fashionable styles of the era. In contrast to the fussy foliage of William Morris-type patterns, its sinuous lines were considered to be extremely modern. This was something which a photographer, whose business relied upon fashion and up-to-date technology would probably have appreciated, and therefore we have decided to decorate the studio in the Art Nouveau style.

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Paul installing the Art Nouveau fireplace in the Photographer’s studio.

With this in mind, the fireplace that Paul and his team are currently fitting in the studio with its exaggerated recessed-dome opening is in high Art Nouveau style. The wallpaper and fireplace, along with other details such as a beautiful restored gas chandelier and reclaimed early 20th century door furniture will help to make the space feel at the height of Edwardian fashion.

In contrast, the Chemist will be decorated in a much older style to reflect that it is a more established and traditional business. This means that although set in the 1910s, it will seem as if it has changed little since the 1880s, and in parts will appear to be even older, given that the building we are copying was original built during the mid-Georgian era. This means that the interior will include heavy, dark wooden shop fittings,which Shaun and his team have been restoring and resizing ready for their installation (look out for a further post with more details of this). Instead, of the stylish fireplace in the studio, the fireplace in the Chemists is a decoratively fussy, reclaimed hob-grate. When finished, the walls will be a dark ‘Pugin’ red that would have been very fashionable during the mid to late Victorian period, with reproduction ‘Anaglypta’ (or  raised textured) wallpaper on the ceiling, that will become increasingly stained by the gas lighting.

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The mid-Victorian hob grate fireplace in the Chemist’s. 

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St Helen’s Church opens to the public

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The finished nave

Over twenty years since St Helen’s Church was first moved from its original location in Eston, Middlesbrough, it has reopened to the public in its new home at Beamish.

To get the church ready for the opening, a lot of work had to be done to finish the interior. The vestry, which the vicar and church wardens would have used as their office, had to be furnished with everything one would have expected to find. This included a Georgian bureau from Hamsterley covered in replica paperwork, candlesticks and a capstan ink well and quills. The glazed cabinet in this little room was filled with a collection of 1825 Adam Clarke Bibles,  a pewter mug and a brandy bottle! The whitewash on the walls were given another touch up and a resplendent and newly restored Royal coat of arms was hung above the gallery.   The beautiful box pews that were kindly donated from St Andrew’s Church in Wiveliscombe were being installed by Sid Lee and his tireless team right up to the morning of the opening!

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The fully furnished vestry

Outside, the remains of Revd Moyle’s 1870s Gothic style window (which was a later addition to the chancel) were laid outside to form a flowerbed. Our contract blacksmith, Andy Basnett, created a wonderful arch, which supports an oil lamp, to go over the main gateway to the church yard. Still to do is to install the whale bone arch at the yard’s rear entrance. The two whale jaw bones from two different whales came from a Lincolnshire museum. St Helen’s did originally have a whale bone arch, which is not surprising given Eston’s close proximity to the coast.

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Some of the members of the team who worked on the church

On Saturday 14th a special service was held in St Helen’s for its former parishioners and community members – it was wonderful to see the church come back to life again!

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Frank’s Memorial at St Helen’s Church

St Helen's being publicly used for the first time in as the setting for a memorial to Dr Frank Atkinson.

St Helen’s being publicly used for the first time since 1985 as the setting for a memorial to Dr Frank Atkinson.

On Saturday afternoon St Helen’s Church became the setting for a memorial to the life of Dr Frank Atkinson – our founder director and the creator of Beamish. Although the church will not be completely finished, and opened to the public, until November, it seemed appropriate to hold the event in an ongoing project. Frank passionately felt that the Museum would never be completed, but would continue to grow as it recorded and collected the heritage of the North East.

Shaun, Keith and John completely the tricky task of hanging the chandeliers.

Shaun, Keith and John completing the tricky task of hanging the chandeliers.

Jim and Clara ringing the bells to signal the start of the memorial.

Jim and Clara ringing the bells to signal the start of the memorial.

The Buildings Team  and our local contractors were working hard last week to get the Church ready for the event. This included everything from installing and glazing the metal window in the chancel, to hanging the chandeliers, to repairing collections, to fitting the altar and gallery rails, to even fixing a leak in the roof! The final touch was to fill the church with items from our collection, including the huge Georgian commandment boards which were hung either side of the arch in the nave.

A huge thank you for everyone’s hard work!

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The interior of St Helen’s Church

The bell hanging in the belfry.

The bell hanging in the belfry.

Today, was an exciting day at St Helen’s Church as the two ancient bells were finally installed into the bell frames of the belfry. They will soon be set up with ropes and pulleys, so that the sound of bells ringing from the tower will be heard for the first time in half a century.

The newly hung priest's door.

The newly hung priest’s door.

 

 

 

 

The priest’s entrance in the chancel has now been hung with a reclaimed lapped oak door, complete with a iron Suffolk latch decorated with a pheasant head.

 

 

 

 

Our traditional lime plasterers from NEPR have nearly finished the top coat in the nave of the Church; gradually transforming the building’s shell.

The nearly completed plaster in the nave.

The nearly completed plaster in the nave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To help inform  us about how to interpret the inside of St Helen’s, we have looked at other contemporary churches. A couple of weeks ago, Jim and Clara visited a beautiful church in Lincolnshire. St Mary’s has Anglo Saxon origins, including an intriguing cat carving on one of its external window lintels.

St Mary's Church at Barnetby le Wold, Lincolnshire.

St Mary’s Church at Barnetby le Wold, Lincolnshire.

Like St Helen’s, St Mary’s was greatly altered in the late Georgian period, and was again changed by the Victorians. The Georgian gallery and box pews (to the rear of the church), as well as the lime-washed walls and exposed roof trusses give a real sense of how St Helen’s should appear once it is completed.

The interior of St Mary's.

The interior of St Mary’s.

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Progress at St Helen’s Church

Shaun and Dan standing on the completed staircase

Shaun and Dan standing on the completed staircase

As the weather gets warmer, work on St Helen’s is progressing fast. Shaun, Dan and Jack have now finished installing their beautifully constructed oak staircase, which makes use of some reclaimed 17th century spindles.

The oak staircase that leads to the church's gallery.

The oak staircase that leads to the church’s gallery.

Our lime plasterers have also been busy and the final scratch coat of plaster (made using a traditional mixture of lime, sand, water and goat hair)  is just being applied.

The final scratch coat of plaster being applied in the gallery.

The final scratch coat of plaster being applied in the gallery.

 

Outside, the front path leading to the church’s entrance has been laid and work continues on landscaping the churchyard.

The newly laid front path.

The newly laid front path.

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