Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Retaining the authentic.



Much like in recent years, it's been a relatively mild winter so far. Nothing has warranted more than a scarf, gloves, and occasionally my Barbour. I haven't had to walk the dog in rain other than maybe twice, and we've had no snow; thank goodness.

Our little cottage is quite primitive in its way, and I like it like that. Too many of these ancient homes are restored beyond recognition, and end-up as no more than a brand new home inside an ancient stone shell.

To me a 300 year old house (which ours is) is no different to an 18thC antique dresser, or a painting by El Greco. They should be preserved, as much as possible, in their original state. Any restoration should aim to retain the integrity of the original building. We are talking 'heritage' here.

Of course these days we all have pukka kitchens and bathrooms, but these do not have to interfere with the charm of an old building.

As you can probably see above, our fireplace now contains a wood burning stove. For many years we kept the original open fire, but it became clear that it was far more practical to have the fire contained so that sparks could not fly about whilst we were out. We rather dreaded returning to a burned out shell.

However, the old fireplace is still there, and 10 minutes work would return it to its original state. I can't imagine ever living in a house without a fire, or the aroma of wood smoke.



49 comments:

  1. How wonderful to live in a 300 year old house!

    Wood burning stoves always look so cozy and cheerful. I would love to have one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A blazing stove is indeed a pleasure at this time of year.

      Delete
  2. Unfortunately, no 300 year old houses here. Kerikeri Mission house is New Zealand's oldest surviving and was completed in 1822.

    My house was built in 1973 but I do love it's two wood burning stoves - although a heat pump would be much easier I would rather split firewood and enjoy a real fire.

    Mind you at present it is lovely that Doug does all the log splitting necessary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually enjoy sawing and splitting wood. I consider it part of my daily exercise.

      Delete
  3. You are a very lucky man Cro. (Not that you haven't worked for it)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, about being lucky I mean.

      Delete
  4. What a beautiful house, i also think that you are very lucky.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was just a one room ruin when I bought it. It was the fireplace that made me do it.

      Delete
  5. Re: My firelighting prowess last week. After my first attempt with half the world's supply of matches and lighter fluid, I lit another with just one match and a load of kindling I collected from the grounds of the finca. I think my Girl Guide backswoodman badge should be reinstated! x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I use white spirit. No probs.

      Delete
    2. I use a drop of paraffin. Easy peasey.

      Delete
    3. Paraffin doesn't have the WOW factor.

      Delete
  6. That is an amazing inglenook Cro. I expect all the cooking was done there at one time as well. A fire is the focal point of the home - it always looks so welcoming.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly; it was the kitchen, and the ancient stone 'sink' is just to the left. You can see a tiny bit of it sticking out.

      Delete
  7. That lovely picture looks like a painting. We have an open fireplace in our sitting room and we sometimes roast chestnuts in it. Greetings Maria x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can probably see our chestnut roasting pan hanging behind the logs.

      Delete
  8. It looks so cosy Cro, but work involved is not something I envy you one bit. In the past we have had houses with an open fire, in the days long before log burners became fashionable. In time, the work of getting them to light, and waiting for them to become "cosy", became disproportionate to the short time we had to enjoy them, especially when we were both working, and often away from home much of the week. The fire became something for the weekends only, if we were staying in. We now have a very modern, gas, faux log, wall hung fire (you'd hate it) but as husband was never a Boy Scout, I'm not prepared to clear up ash (or live with it)and given our advancing years, it's a very easy solution.
    However, I can get my fill of wood smoke by going out onto the terrace and enjoying the aroma from the houses around, which all seem to have wood fires.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As you can imagine, with a big fireplace like ours, most of the heat went straight up into the sky. I would estimate that about 20% was projected into the room. I don't mind all the ash emptying, log hauling, etc, it's simply part of my day.

      Delete
    2. Yes, loss of heat has always been a problem with large fireplaces, which is such a shame because they are so attractive.
      Your problem will be when you are no longer able to chop the wood, clear out etc., but perhaps your son will do it for you?

      Delete
  9. Lovely fireplace, and your place looks charming. We lost all the old charm of our house through previous owners letting the house collapse into ruin, which meant that the house had to be stripped back to bare walls, with most of the wood removed including roof and ceiling trusses. I was very sad that we had to do this. But we have renovated sympathetically, and with simplicity, putting lots of oak back in to the house, not using plasterboard anywhere, having to cover over the river stone walls with chaux because of the thousands of rat runs in the walls but still leaving the walls rough looking. The house does not look newly done, although it would have been quicker and cheaper to have done it 'modern' style!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We recently built a single story 'tower', in which 90% of the materials were hand made. All the floor tiles and roof tiles were made locally by small artisans, and the Oak timbers cut by a local saw mill owner. The interior plastering is rustic, and the whole building has a feeling of being an old one that has been sympathetically renovated. In Summer when it's covered in Wisteria, you'd hardly know it was less than 10 years old.

      Delete
  10. It looks very homely.
    Arilx

    ReplyDelete
  11. I would love an open, real fire, but this isn't an option here. Shame.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brighton had a Smoke-Free policy, but I seem to remember that there was plenty of wood smoke around after dusk.

      Delete
    2. Bath used to be black from coal smoke, but you are still allowed to burn smokeless coke - which gives out more damaging sulphurous fumes than untreated coal. It's just invisible, that's all.

      Delete
  12. Our house before the one we live in now was built in 1654. We exposed all of the original beams and pretty much took it back to its original state.It had many original features including all of the latched doors. One door, from the lounge to the dining room had the original glass in the top half in six small panes. I have just seen it on Rightmove and they have RUINED it !!!!! The doors have been replaced with cheap orange pine doors and the latches replaced with brass knobs !! One of the beamed walls has been plastered over and wallpapered with flowery wallpaper !!!!! I think that people should take a test to see if they are worthy to be caretakers of old houses. You would pass the test Cro !! XXXX

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A good friend owned our ancient village Chateau. She sold it to an Italian wide-boy, who stripped it of all its fabulous interior Oak panelling (which he sold to Japan), and installed some bathrooms that were in appalling taste. Luckily there is now a new owner who is doing his best to put things back to how it was originally. Of course he'll never get the panelling back. Shame.

      Delete
    2. Well, unfortunately, once your house has been sold on, it's someone else's to do with as they wish, and not yours to dictate on how it should be treated. The people who bought your property, Jacqueline, were doing what they wanted, so perhaps you should have been more careful who you sold to in the first place - made them take that test you talked about? I can only assume it wasn't a Listed Building?

      Delete
    3. We sold it to people who cared for it. We haven't lived there for 30 years but we really should preserve our old buildings. It is Grade 11 listed but that only protects the outside. Do you not think that buildings as old as that should be protected ? They are part of our heritage.XXXX

      Delete
    4. Most certainly I approve of retaining as much of our Heritage as possible. But unfortunately it's impossible to dictate what people will do to the interiors once they get their hands on a house. At least it's some consolation that the exteriors remained untouched and intact.

      Delete
    5. You can't ask a buyer what plans he/she has for a house, you can only hope that they respect it. I sold my people's house to a stupid man who immediately ripped-out a 44 tree orchard that contained some very rare apples. He owned racehorses and wanted to extend the paddocks. I could have strangled him!

      Delete
  13. Our French builder tried very hard to persuade us to replace the ancient old ceiling beams with nice, new, straight machined ones. We kept the old ones. They might be misshapen and crumbling (probably still being chomped by beetle) but I love them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ours are all split and wonky, but they've been there for 300 years, and I expect they'll be there for another 300.

      Delete
  14. Good for you! Maintaining a 300 year old house must be a labor of love. Nothing better than standing/sitting close to a wood burning stove on a cold morning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's always something that needs doing, but that's part of the attraction.

      Delete
  15. Oh, I'm with you, I regard a fire, or a wood-burning stove, as an absolute essential for a proper home. Quite apart from the very welcome warmth it also animates a room, bringing it 'alive'!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd hate to live in a house that didn't have a fire; however warm it was.

      Delete
  16. It's just beautiful and a very safe solution. I like all your 'old bits' including your mushroom box for the paper!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm surprised you could see what's painted on the box; it was done by my children when they were very much younger.

      Delete
  17. We have a wood burner in our living room and have had it for about four years Cro. This time of year we ask ourselves time and time again how did we possibly manage without it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, but occasionally I still yearn for the big open fire.

      Delete
  18. It was a good choice. A wood burning stove looks nice anyway plus they do a really good job of keeping a house warm.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Not for the first time, you are taking me back to some happy memories of living in that 1840 Brooklyn house with the wood burning stove set into the original brick hearth. Non-working, but still original fireplace in the bedroom, too.

    It's all down to the hissing steam radiators in this apartment, but on my street there are lots of old brownstone houses, and on nights such as this I can sense wood fires burning.

    Thanks for the memories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'Hissing steam radiators' sounds very New York.

      Delete
  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I entirely agree about preserving old buildings, be they churches or houses. Too bad developers and local governments don't feel the same way. I'm glad to finally be living in an area of the country where a common interest in history extends to respect of the setting in which is occurred.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...