Shaun peeking out from one of the newly installed windows at our Tearooms.
While our masonry team are busy at Spain’s Field, the joinery team have also been working hard to replace the old and rotting box sash windows at our Tearooms. This has taken a number of weeks as every window frame has had to be constructed, glazed and the sashes weighed to ensure that lead weights hung from the sashes provide the correct counter balance to allow them to be held open.
The word ‘sash’ is derived from the French ‘chassis’, meaning frame. However, sash windows have a long and noble history in this country. The earliest weighted box sash windows appear in 17th century country houses such as Chatsworth and Newby Hall, as well as in royal palaces such as Kensington. Some believe that the box sash was invented in the studio of the famous Christopher Wren, and sashes appear in the gallery of St Paul’s Cathedral and at his extension of Hampton Court. Wren loved the sash because unlike a the frames of a casement window which would project from the face of a building when opened, the frames of sash could be opened vertically and therefore did not disturb the appearance of the facade. The use of a timber frame and glazing bars instead of lead also allowed for larger quantities of glass to be used, letting more light into buildings. By the mid-Georgian period box sash windows were extremely prevalent and popular in British architect and remained so until the Art and Crafts movement of the late Edwardian era, which saw the revival of the casement window.
Cassie standing outside of Allington House on the North Bailey in Durham.
As part of our Remaking Beamish project we are planning to recreate a lost coaching inn (look out for an announcement about exactly which inn it will be). While we always use lots of archival research when recreating a building that has both been demolished and disappeared from memory, we are often left with gaps and have to make informed guess. Often, it is the smaller architectural details that are unrecorded, such as window glazing bars and door surrounds, which may seem unimportant but can make all the difference in making a building feel authentic. Sometimes, there are larger chunks missing, such as the rear of a building, which may be out of shot of a photograph. Here it could be an entire facade that we have to make a well founded inference about.
The former Georgian front door of Allington House.
Yesterday Clara and our newest member of the team, Cassie, went in search of some local examples to help fill a few of the blanks that are missing on our design for our coaching inn. We headed to Durham to visit Allington House on the North Bailey, former home of the architect Ingnatious Bonomi, which has been gradually developed and expanded from the 1700s right up to the 1950s. Here we found a hidden Georgian front door with a beautiful classically carved hood canopy, lopsided sliding sashes, 17th century roof trusses and plenty of wonky corridors.
A typical Palladian style Venetian window on a Georgian building in Durham.
The city of Durham itself provided some useful inspiration with all its moulded doorways and Georgian windows with typically distorted glass.
One of the many Neoclassical carved doorway of Durham.
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 completing the tricky task of hanging the chandeliers.
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!
Last week we collected some exciting objects – which we intend to incorporate into our, as yet un-designed, Georgian Coaching Inn.
The paneling and windows (photograph by Addisons Auctioneers).
The paneling and windows secured for transportation.
This lovely oak paneling and accompanying window frames were bought at auction.
The paneling dates from the 17th Century, and allegedly originate at Beamish Hall – a nice coincidence we weren’t aware of until we collected it!
The paneling will be careful restored by Shaun and his team, and eventually we’ll create a spot to incorporate it into the Coaching Inn.
On the same journey we also collected a few much more modern objects – some 1950s fire surrounds and metal frame windows. They’ll eventually find their way into some of our 20th Century buildings.
David and Daryl from the collections team help to unload the metal frame windows.
It just goes to shows the variety of buildings we’re working on!