Since last March the floor structure to the southeast room on the ground floor (to the left of the front door) has been completed , although at present we are using this room as a temporary store for materials. The old earth-and-debris ramp beneath this new floor in the cellar was removed in record time by the mansion volunteers. All the rooms on the ground floor are now accessible, although not all open to the public. The housekeeper’s room (to the right of the front door) has had its ceiling installed and painted. This was a complex operation as we had to first install the structure to the hearth to the dining room above. Both external steel security window shutters are now installed in this room together with one window. The second window is on order. Many courses of rotten bricks had to be cut out and replaced on the west wall of the room. These had disintegrated over the years when the building was unroofed. Our plasterer is now beginning to plaster the walls (see photograph). It will be an interesting room when complete. The work is funded by a very kind donor.
The reinstatement of the wing roof and the attic floor beneath (which actually supports the roof) is progressing. The crane delivered all the steel beams and these have been concreted into position. This work has stabilised the tops of the walls for the first time since the wing was stripped out around 1950. The construction of the actual roof is quite straightforward and is about to start. About three quarters of the work is contained in the attic floor and brickwork reinstatement. In many ways the 1895 wing – with its thinner walls – is less stable than the mansion. We have recently been given an anonymous donation of £6,000 + gift aid towards this project for which we are very grateful.
Three steel window security shutters have been made and fitted for three different rooms on the principal floor – the two dressing rooms for John and Henrietta Conyers and the drawing room. Two of these rooms had to have new stone window sills made as the originals had been robbed away in the 1950s. Also, two windows for the principal floor have been made and await installation.
Discussions are ongoing with Power Networks regarding the new electricity supply – mentioned in the last newsle(er. We asked whether it would be possible, at the same time, to underground the overhead cables that run right across the lawn in front of the mansion. We were told this was possible. We have emphasised that the parkland is Grade II* landscape and the mansion is a major historic building. The Superintendent of Epping Forest and the landscape officer at Epping Forest District Council expressed enthusiasm to underground these cables. We await a detailed scheme and costs.
Outside the front door of the mansion we have reinstated the original (1895) forecourt carriage turning circle. Either side of the turning circle – along the eastern edge of the forecourt – there is more work to do to define accurately the eastern edge. The forecourt was important as a place of arrival to the mansion. The fact that it had become merely a track running past the front door was unfortunate and we have been concerned to rectify this situation.