Our Restoration Project
I recently purchased a cottage in Rotherham, dating from the 1600s, with view to renovating. I thought you may be interested in some of the 'finds'.
On lowering an inner window cill to make a window seat, we found loads of bottles which were from early 1900's, all broken, apart from two, both of these were manufactured for Boots the chemist, possibly from Catcliffe Glass Works.
In another downstairs room, we found part of a leather shoe which was nailed to a joist which we covered back up.
Next we found two old clay pipes which were above the cellar doorway behind a rotting joist which we replaced. My friend pulled them out one at a time with great excitement, and thought he had found three, but when he pulled out the third he realised this was attached to a rats body, he nearly fell off the ladder!
All these things where placed in here by builders years ago for good luck.
In one bedroom is a Kings truss holding up the roof with wood panelling, coming off that as a dividing wall, all this was painted bright blue and then covered in newspaper dated from 1917, this had to be sandblasted to get it back to the original wood. Once this was done we found an initial 'W' on the main width truss, obviously the carpenter's initial from the 1600's. Under the floorboards in this room were some brass shotgun cartridges obviously very old, I suppose in those days there were no rules with shotguns and the source was possibly a farm labourer or game keeper. I polished these up and now have them on display.
On one side of this bedroom was a doorway which had been blocked up years ago, I opened this up and put a window in the opening, you can still see the sill to the old doorway from the road, apparently this room was used as a boarding room for girls and the horse and cart used to pull up and pass the baggage through the doorway.
The loft in the front of the house had been insulated in straw, at first I thought the house could have at one time been thatched, but the rear roof still had the original stone tiles on, which I still have,and will be used elsewhere, so I presume the front used to be the same, I've incorporated some of these in the renovation by using them as window sills.
It is now one house, but after having the floor boards up in the upstairs rooms there were signs of old staircase newel posts in the floor, showing signs that it could quite possibly have been three cottages.
There are three bedrooms and they all had the original floorboards down, all were about a foot wide but after cutting the woodworm out, we managed to salvage enough for one bedroom, the landing and bathroom. We kept all the features we could and by sandblasting beams etc., and managed to find more.
There are two fireplaces downstairs which had been covered with brick, after knocking this down it revealed original stone inglenook fireplaces. In one bedroom there's original shaped oak pegs which at one time would have been the wardrobe, I wanted to get these sandblasted but the day before the sandblaster turned up the plasterer started which meant I would have damaged the plaster. I didn't want to take the old lime plaster off any of the walls because of the curved shaped reveals etc., but the plasterer managed to copy the original.
Luckily all the internal doors and even the back door are original, the back door even has a letter box which measures about 4 inches, long before junk mail deliveries!
A couple of other things which were interesting were the 17th century nails which we found - all big and blacksmith made - all with
different shaped heads, as each one was individually made, and needed to be strong enough to drive into the wood of that era.
Also the different old wood joints we found around the cottage which craftsmen from long ago made; this fascinated us especially our Joiner.
A well was also found and would make a great feature but we covered it up for the time being while we get the house finished.
Jack W., March, 2007