Although the demolition and removal of old and decayed building materials still continues in the North Wing at Combermere Abbey, new material is already going in. Brickwork is being reapired with Cheshire bricks, and having cut rotten wood away the joiners are cutting new pieces and they are being inserted. Some of the new timberwork is being pegged in, as it would have been in late medieval and Tudor times, but larger beams are being secured with deeply counter-sunk steel bolts.
The new timberwork follows the pattern of the original wood exactly, even where it is going to disappear behind behind covering surfaces both inside and out. No short cuts are being taken and the original form of the Abbey’s timber frame is being followed faithfully.The coping stones of what remains of the eastern side of the North Wing, which was built for the visit by The Duke Of Wellington in 1919 peep up through one of the lower scaffolding corridors on the north-eastern corner (see photo below). These three windows can be seen again below in a Francis Frith postcard of the very early Twentieth century. This wing was demolished in the mid-Twentieth century.
September 23 2014: A couple of weeks on from the piece posted above we can see yet more progress in the North Wing. There are hundreds of newly-made bricks being added to the old ones, and new wood is meeting timber of several different ages. Where needed the larger beams are bolted into place – often with very sizeable bolts – and in other places the timbers are being joined with wooden pegs, as they would have been for many centuries.
It’s immediately apparent now how much easier it is to restore the North Wing with the roof and all supporting timber-work removed. Access from the four-storey staffolding walkway around the Wing is excellent, and reassuringly safe.A new sandstone window-sill, with a temporary wooden protector to avoid accidental damage