photo: Peter Gamble
Photo: Peter Gamble
We were able to transfer these artefacts directly to the new artefact’s room in the basement. This room has been fitted out with shelves and a large table and is expertly managed by one of the archaeologists. At present there is no floor in the housekeeper’s room, although one can walk on the uneven top surface of the vaulted ceiling of the cellars about 9 inches below the eventual level of the floor. Until we can afford the £5,000 for the floor, the room cannot be opened to the public.
We have now received almost all the money for the first part of the stone staircase in the south stairwell. As a consequence, we have now ordered the stone and have finalised the dimensions. Much research has gone into the arrangement of the original staircase, so that its reinstatement is as close to the original as possible. Although there is much evidence in the walls and floor there are a few dimensions that were quite difficult to resolve.In time for the May Open Day we constructed a temporary staircase (see photo, left) in the wing to ease the flow of visitors, particularly on Open Days. This staircase will eventually be replaced by a decorative cast-iron staircase. In the mansion both windows have been installed in John Conyers’ bedroom on the principal floor (see photo aboveThis staircase will eventually be replaced by a decorative cast-iron staircase.
Work has begun on the southeast corner of the mansion, which is the last part of the mansion to be stabilised by the insertion of floor structures. Substantial reinforcement of the walls at first and second floor has now been completed and all materials for the floors and temporary roof will be delivered soon and craned into position. Once this work is completed visitors will be able to enter the first-floor drawing room. These works are funded by the Garfield Weston Foundation and by two private donors. Another private donor has financed the first-floor window in the east façade. This was going to be installed in the dining room but now will be fitted in the drawing room as it is much easier in terms of construction. This will be first window in the east façade.
Once it is possible for visitors to enter the drawing room there will be only one inaccessible room on the first floor and that is the state hall, which sits above the entrance hall. Although the room exists with its ceiling structure protected by a roof at high level, there is no floor, for two reasons. First, we initially held all our concerts in the entrance hall below and we needed a tall impressive space right through to the underside of the second floor. Second, as this part of the mansion was stabilised and dry, our priority was to attend to the other parts, which we have done. We are now fundraising to enable us to install this missing floor so the whole of the first floor can be experienced by our visitors.