Update On Fulling Mill Cottage Christmas 2013
by Julie Grant
It’s late afternoon in Fittleworth. The long, cold night draws in, darkness descends and silence falls across the valley. Animals and birds take to their burrows and nests to shelter from chill of the North wind. Much later, the night creatures will emerge from their dens and the owls will take flight from the wood in search of food – but for now all is quiet.
In the valley stands an ancient cottage. It’s solid, weathered stones and dense, thatched roof- impenetrable against the winter weather. Strong doors and windows barred against the icy showers. The cottage is used to cold. Over four hundred winters have battered her defences but the recent years were by far the worst. She has struggled against snow, high winds and torrential rain and almost succumbed to the wrath of the cruel elements but now she stands stronger than ever.
A proud testament to those that originally built her - and a fine tribute to the craftsmen that have now repaired her.
Fulling Mill Cottage has been saved.
After years of clearance, months and months of planning, of endless research, of ups & downs and highs and lows the essential stage of the restoration is complete. The massive timber frame has been repaired, the brick walls and chimneys rebuilt, the stonework re pointed. The roof of the house has been newly thatched, it’s swept valley tiled, along with the adjoining scullery roof. Windows and doors have been restored and the ancient byre renovated. We are within our budget and ahead of schedule. It feels like a miracle.
A miracle that could not have come about -had it not been for the dedication and enthusiasm of our specialist craftsmen - Roland Locke from Roundhouse - our Chief Carpenter and expert in historic timber, Kyle Dumka from Tennon Timber Framing, and Mark Harding from Oakhouse Construction conservation builder. It has been a pleasure to work with such professional and knowledgeable expert.
Our Master Thatchers Ed Gould and Chris Tomkins gave us a fascinating insight into the incredible art of thatching.
We cannot thank our team enough for all their help, advice and wisdom.
Well done to Tommy who took on the massive task of site managing the project. Tommy also provided the staff from his own business, with no charge to the charity, to help with the massive clearance operation. Thank you to Brendon & Kevin from Xtreme Clean for all your hard work.
We are also grateful to Robert and Les for all their efforts in helping with the project.
There is still plenty to do at Fulling Mill and the next stage will be the reparations to the interior. Ancient floorboards to repair, walls and ceilings to wattle and daub and 21st century sanitation and electricity to be installed.
As I write this – we are in the process of putting Fulling Mill to bed for winter. Shutting down the cottage, clearing the autumn leaves from the path and the woodland stream, mulching the flower garden & orchard and protecting young plants and shrubs. Hopefully, our insect house and nest boxes will provide shelter for wildlife against the cold. We will, of course, be filling our feeders regularly and providing tasty morsels for our resident creatures over winter.
Long nights will be spent with further reading and researching at home with our beloved cats – whilst we await the coming of the early spring sunshine and the sight of the first snowdrops emerging from the frosty earth in our ancient wood.
(Photos: Tommy Grant)
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