Since the last newsletter we have completed sufficient works to enable the drawing room to be opened to the public. It has even had its chandelier fitted. As everyone must know, there is no plasterwork in this or any other room in the mansion. All in good time! The drawing room works have enabled the space below to be dry and safe. This space is at present double height from the floor of the cellar below to the underside of the first floor. The ground floor structure cannot be reinstated until we have finished using our temporary ramp to the cellars, which occupies this area.
The floor above the entrance hall has also been installed – making it the last grand room on the principal floor to become accessible. This represents a milestone in the restoration of Copped Hall, as the mansion was designed around this circuit of eight grand rooms. At last people can appreciate that the well-proportioned facades of Copped Hall are only half the architectural story of Copped Hall. It should always be remembered that John Conyers demolished the perfectly restorable and magnificent Old Copped Hall in order to express himself in the new Palladian architecture that was captivating the minds of the gentry, and others, from early in the 18th century. To create this circuit of rooms was one of the main reasons John Conyers demolished Old Copped Hall.
With the complete circuit of the first-floor state rooms now accessible, attention moves to focus on other details – namely, brickwork repair, the reinstatement of the hearths in the rooms and, of course, the windows.
There are a total of ten fireplaces in the state rooms – the saloon and state hall each having two. Of these ten, only one is operational. A further three fireplaces have their concrete hearth bases installed but only one of these has had its essential fire brick hearth laid on top. The fire brick hearths allow the fireplaces to be used. Much later we will fit the traditional large white statuary marble hearth aprons on top of the fire brick hearths. Some of the work to these hearths is outlined in the Wish List.
These state rooms had a total of 20 windows with two having opening doors below them for access to the outside. To date we have installed six with one more funded. Five windows require stone sills which were removed in the 1950s. Three others require substantial rebuilding of their structural openings before windows can be fitted. Therefore, there are just five openings (all on the east front) that can have windows fitted without any further structural work. These windows will look out over the eastern park towards the lake. See Wish List for windows.
The brickwork repair focuses almost entirely on chimney breasts and doorways. The bricks used are the red 18th century bricks that were salvaged when we cleared out the ruins soon after our purchase of Copped Hall.
Since the last newsletter we have carried out a number of smaller projects. These include the installation of a ceiling in the south room together with new lighting. The carol concerts take place in the depths of winter in the south room so anything we can do to make the room more comfortable we regard as particularly worthwhile. The exit lobby from the South Room – through the former chapel – has been enclosed on its east side so that its purpose is more clearly defined.
The next project is the installation of the floor of the housekeeper’s room. The housekeeper was a key person in the traditional household. We intend to recreate the room so that it can serve as an educational vehicle. Another forthcoming project is the reinstatement of part of the roof structure in the north wing – which will at last stabilise the two chimneys that actually sway in high winds. This latter project has been funded by the Big Give Appeal where 18 generous donors had their donations matched by the Garfield Weston Foundation giving a total of £24,000.