Update On Fulling Mill Cottage Spring 2015
by Julie Grant
Spring came early to Fulling Mill this year, with the first snowdrops appearing in mid January and the sleepy bumble bees venturing out into the watery sunshine to visit our flowering Camellias.
Our first job of the year was to contact the Bat Conservation Trust in order to arrange for a representative to visit the property. We had noticed a vast number of insect wings, from hibernating moths and butterflies, strewn around the interior rooms. A possible sign that bats may have been overwintering in the cottage. Under conservation regulations, a full examination of the property had to be carried out before any further work could proceed.
The Bat Conservation Officer gave us a fascinating insight into the world of these mysterious creatures during his inspection and whilst he could not find any direct evidence of bats in the house at that point in time, he felt sure that Fulling Mill Cottage would be the ideal roosting site for them in the future.
Fittleworth Common is a large wooded area (of which we own approx 1 acre) situated opposite the cottage at the bottom of the orchard. Five native species of bat live within the woodland so it is likely that they will eventually find their way into the property- once the restoration is complete.
At the moment we are replacing the upper ceilings with chestnut lathes which will ultimately be plastered over- thus leaving a safe and secure roof space for our nocturnal friends to visit. We have been advised to leave a small aperture around the thatched gable of the cottage to allow them access in and out. Bats do not cause damage to property from droppings or chewing through wires and are very unobtrusive. Sadly much of their habitat and roosting sites have disappeared due to the destruction of woodland and the expansion of modern housing. We would feel extremely privileged if they should chose to shelter within our humble cottage.
Tommy and Les have been taking advantage of the dry weather to reinstate the original stone pathways surrounding the cottage. Over time, the stones have moved considerably- due to the roots of the overgrown trees and a quagmire of mud and debris that had built up over the years.
This has been a laborious task as each individual stone has to be lifted and cleaned whilst the offending mud has to be scraped away from the ground and a new firm base prepared. The stones must then be relayed in the same original formation – like a giant, crazy paved, jig saw puzzle.
On rainy days work is concentrated upon the interior. The downstairs lathe ceilings are now finished and work is now taking place in the upper rooms. The interior stonework around the windows is complete and a concrete floor is shortly to be laid in the scullery once the necessary pipe work is in situ.
The work is both meticulous and time consuming but patience and careful preparation is vital to historical restoration.
The flower garden looks stunning this year - despite the visiting Roe deer nibbling at the roses. (Just one glimpse of these magical, serene creatures and I can forgive them for anything.)
The bluebell wood was enchanting in May. The fruit trees in the orchard were full of blossom and surrounded by narcissi and primroses. Now into June- the native, wild orchids have started to multiply in the long grass and the birds are singing their hearts ou,t as the bees and butterflies dance gracefully among the wildflowers -The English Country Garden at it’s very best.
Photos by Tommy Grant
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