Conservation works at Anne Hathaway's Cottage have been some time in the planning, as a specification had to be drawn up for what needed to be done, and an archaeologist and an ecologist had to be consulted. Ecolocation also had to conduct a couple of surveys, and we needed Listed Building Consent from Stratford DC and Historic England.
After all this had been agreed, the proposed work was put out to tender, and this was won by Heritage Building Conservation of Staffordshire. A suitable date for commencement was then agreed with the site, and the scaffolder started on the tricky job of spanning the thatched roof so the builders can reach the chimney, without placing any additional load on the structure of the house at all.
Due to the nature of the building, the scaffold cannot sit on the thatch and so has to be free standing, which means that the cottage has to have scaffolding on both sides to hold up a work platform for the conservation builders.
There are two areas that are being addressed - the first being the middle chimney. The top 12 courses of bricks will be removed and rebuilt. A number of these bricks are no longer viable, and need to be replaced. Once the assessment of the chimney has been made next week, and everything has been recorded, new bricks will be individually handmade to match the others.
Whilst the bricks are being made, work will begin to remove the top step on the outside set of the stairs closest to the road to make it level with the top of the plinth.
A section of the timber sole plate by the steps, which has rotted, will then be cut out and replaced. This is expected to take approximately 4 weeks.
Once the bricks are made, the builders will then be able to start dismantling the top courses of the chimney, replace the damaged bricks, and rebuild it in exactly the same pattern and style as before. They will then repoint the rest of the chimney down to the thatch level.
The archaeologist will also be back again during this phase to check whether there is anything of interest to be discovered within the chimney.
Weather and unexpected complications permitting, it is hoped that the work will be completed, and the scaffolding removed just before Christmas.
Gemma McGlinchey, Property Services Supervisor