Tuesday, 21 May 2013


You may remember the shiny, green living room with an open fire at one end and a chimney breast and shelves at the other.

With the romantic notion of uncovering hidden ranges and hob grates we cautiously set to work opening up the blocked fireplaces.....slowly and gently.
Not with the sledgehammer enthusiasm of Mr George Clarke on the TV..... I cringe at his attack on walls as he creates a 'new opening' for his clients.

Big chunks of cement render....in places 4ins thick, came off bit by bit to reveal a simple sandstone surround and crumbling Georgian, handmade brick interior.

This 'living room' would originally have housed the beasts in the early years of the Bastle history... the family would have lived above taking advantage of the 'ground floor' heating ( albeit smelly ) then, like a lot of old buildings it was gentrified in the 18th century, windows and doors installed and the family moved downstairs.

The current single room would have been divided in two at this time...
The simple, little fireplace would have been for a small parlour and the larger one at the other end for the working kitchen....both separated by a hallway leading from the now blocked doorway.

As the sandstone surround of the larger fireplace revealed itself, it became apparent that at one point in time the header had cracked... Either from the heat of the range or a stress fracture of the long 8ft piece of stone. A simple iron stitch had been inserted in the 19th century in the hope of stabilising the fireplace.

This I found confirmed following research at our local County Records Office....an entry in the landowners account book.

1862.." Paid Wm Coulson Blacksmith for making a cramp for lintle stone at B cottage house "
1 shilling 4d

The small fireplace up to date now houses a new wood burner... the brick and old stone back have been lime pointed, the sandstone surround painstakingly cleaned of green and black paint, a simple piece of new oak added as a mantle and the chimney breast left exposed and lime pointed by my own fair hands.
Lime pointing is so rewarding and not the scary task you might think. According to the lime pointing lecturer on our course....women are very good and sometimes better than the blokes with their attention to detail!

The top half shows how it looks having been pointed with lime the day before and the bottom half shows the finished effect when it is scraped and brushed off the next day.
The beauty of lime is it stays workable for quite a while unlike cement which goes off very quickly.

Next time I will show you what was in the large fireplace.....

Julie x


  1. Well, all the hard work was worth it.
    We have taken both out fireplaces back to their original form, a lot of dirty hard work but so rewarding.
    I look forward to seeing more.


  2. Julie it looks fab and will be so cosy come the winter.. Hugs angi X

  3. Julie, it looks so wonderfully inviting. I am loving your attention to detail. I always do the tiling as I think women are better at that too, the attention to detail as you say.

    Thanks for the tour.

  4. Oh, Julie - you're doing such great work! I love the deetail of the iron stitch - esp that you found out about it in the Records Office. Living history - brilliant. It's going to be such a special place. Abby x

  5. old houses are so interesting aren't they- worth all the hard work!

  6. Wow - that looks amazing and very interesting to know the history behind it!
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

  7. It seems your hard work and attention to detail are working very well. Can't wait for the next instalment .

  8. You are working your magic Julie, it is looking so cosy, I love the exposed brickwork, you are putting in a lot of hard work and the results are showing that. Can't wait to see what's next. Jayne x

  9. Oh what a joy to find all that and what a transformation can't wait to see the next instalment.

  10. What a beautiful fireplace and what a fantastic transformation. I'm very impressed that you can lime point, it does sound very rewarding. We kept our two chimney breasts exposed in the original brick and it does look lovely. Can't wait to see what's next.
    Jo xx

  11. It looks wonderful. You did a fabulous job. No doubt the house thanks you for rescuing a piece of its past.
    Blissful tidings,

  12. We remember our conversation about lime pointing!
    Now we see your skills - Mr N leans over my shoulder, raises his eyebrows "What's this then?". We're very impressed!

  13. Like painting by numbers, only far more artistical and rewarding. I'm just loving the conducted tours around your lovely, lovely home in the making. How rewarding for you Julie, plus a pictorial record... Inspiring!


  14. Lovely Julie.....a labour of love

  15. Hello Julie, you have really made a marvellous job of refurbishing the fireplace. How lovely to know about the house's history too!
    Many thanks for your kind words, and yes I do have a lot of patience. Much love to you, Linda x

  16. I had to pop over to see if you had any pictures of your visit xxxxx