I've been wanting to pull down the Kitchen ceiling for ages now. The shiny new(ish) plasterboard and downlighting spots stood out like a sore thumb in the otherwise olde-worlde cottage, and I knew that there was a host of dodgy electrics hidden above it. So, yesterday was the day... and down it came.
I was really pleasantly surprised to see that the majority of the original ceiling is still in place, with plaster on lath between some lovely Victorian sawn Oak beams. It was a shame that these had been hidden.
But in the South-West corner of the room is a large section of more modern, somewhat bodged beams that indicated some serious structural work has been done in this room in the past.
We know from a local chap who was born in the house that it used to be divided in to two, with separate families living in ends of the house, but until yesterday we couldn't work out how that would have been possible. Thanks to a friend's eagle-eye, we've determined that the L-shaped newer part of the ceiling was once a staircase entrance, and that the Kitchen, Lounge and Bedroom 3 comprised one family's accomodation, and the rest of the house served the other family.
In fact, the floor in Bedroom 3 has been made, in part, from the staircase which it replaced.
You can see on this photo the remains of a newel post that would have supported the ceiling when there was a staircase here.
Now, I'm no structural engineer, but the removal of that newel post, and subsequent shoring up of the ceiling using a variety of offcuts of wood and some remarkably thin bolts should probably worry me more than it does. I've come to love the bodgey nature of this house and the fun finds behind every surface.
What we're going to try to do is 'prettify' some of the beams where they've had bits of offcut added to them. We're not worried enough, or well-off enough to embark on major structural alterations like replacing the beams for new seasoned Oak, so we're going to clean, veneer and thicken some of the bodgey bits to make it look a bit more even. Then we'll leave the whole lot on show to celebrate the building's heritage.
You can see in this straight-up shot that the steps have been used as floorboards.
Taking the ceiling down has also exposed the amount of damage done by the installation of various electrics and central heating over the years. Some of the beams have LOTS of holes drilled through them which will be affecting their structural integrity. All of these pipes are going to be removed, and electrics stripped back to reveal the extent of any damage.
One interesting feature we found is the register plate for the old Rayburn cooker flue. The plate itself is not that old - I'd estimate 30-40yrs, but the wood that it's mounted in to looks to be much, much older. I'd even guess that it's original, judging by the way it notches in to the beams. I'm looking forward to having a look under the plate to see if there's evidence of something older. I may replace it and leave it as a focal point.