Tuesday, 15 July 2014

As one door opens...

Gosh - who would have thought it was February when I last wrote about the Dogs' Entrance Doors and the on-going saga of problematic pintle? A lot has happened in the intervening five months... 

The question on everyone's lips must surely be - did it come off?

Well, after a fashion it did - just not in the way you would expect. 

Common sense prevailed in the end at the decision was made to remove the door from its ornate hinges - that way it could be removed forwards rather than upwards - and it worked!

This meant that the bottom hinge could be removed, exposing the problematic-pintle, and allowing it to be drilled out and replaced.

Once it had been removed...

...the new stone could be fitted.

The new pintle was the inserted into new lime mortar and a synthetic compound to hold it firmly in place. The doors were closed for 48 hours until the compound solidified and a fortnight ago the work to the doors was completed.

As one door opens... another one closes.

This Blog post is dedicated to the memory of John Maloney - Stone Mason and friend. John passed away suddenly at home shortly after completing the work.

"I always knew that when I looked back on the times I cried I would smile. 

But I never knew that when I looked back on the times I smiled I would cry."

Monday, 3 March 2014

79 Boxes...

"A Mr Johnson of Ripon removed from Markenfield 79 boxes of evidence, 1 little coffer and 2 littell bagges by commission (and to deliver) the same into the Exchequer"
circa. 1601

Markenfield is a house of may mysteries, but perhaps the most prevailing - and most vital in its history - is the mystery of the 79 boxes.

Much of the history of the Hall pre-Norton & Grantley is unknown - and that is largely due to the lack of archival evidence. A lot of the history has been pieced together using the history books and references made to the Markenfield family that can be found in other archives and historical sources. What the Hall lacks however is its own primary evidence - the day to day papers, logs, maps and books that would have related to the daily business of the house and family. 

It is believed that all the paperwork pertaining to the Hall was confiscated - along with the Hall - in 1569; after The Rising of the North and the failed attempt to put Mary Queen of Scots on the throne.

It has long been known that the mediaeval archive was missing - and it has long been believed that the papers had been mixed up with the Bridgewater archive and gone unnoticed and uncatalogued within a much larger collection.

That belief has now changed. 

The Friends of Markenfield Archive and Study Groups have been undertaking independent research in to "the missing years" - the years between the confiscation by the Crown for treason and the purchase of the Hall by Fletcher Norton (1st Baron Grantley).

Contrary to popular belief, the Earls of Bridgewater never owned Markenfield Hall. Further details in to this ownership will be revealed at The Friends' AGM in April - let's just say that the history books have been well and truly re-written!

Back to the boxes... it is now thought that the boxes may be held in the National Archive at Kew. Judith Smeaton, head of the Archive group, is hoping that they will be found there and that finally the true history of the Hall can be revealed.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

If we remove the ceiling... with a rope or two...!

We all know that Markenfield has its quirks - and its challenges - but who could have guessed that they might actually have built the house around a door!

Known as The Dogs' Entrance (or Dog's Entrance depending on how many are in residence at the time) the wooden double doors leading out on to the moat are without doubt one of the Hall's gems.

Over an inch thick, with ornate hinges and enough security built in to the back to stop a small army (don't even think about it okay...?) the doors have featured in many a wedding photograph.

Because they face north they "get a lot of weather" - and boy have we "had a lot of weather" recently! And so it transpired that the doors were stronger than the house itself...

Now for the science part...

It is believed that the doors were hung there as part of the 1850s restoration, undertaken by JR Walbran on behalf of 3rd Lord Grantley. At this time numerous features were moved around - in part to protect some things from the elements*. It is not clear whether the doors were a part of the house's fabric before this - but that is where they ended up.

Hung on metal "pintles" inserted in to the stone archway that surrounds it, over time the pintles rusted and finally last year a large section of stone facing was forced away from the wall exposing the hinges and meaning that the bottom stone of the doorway needed to be replaced. 

And so the Stone Mason was called. He measured up and went away. The Black Smith was called. He measured up and went away. Finally, the stone was ready and new bronze (none-rusting) pintles had been forged...

Then we discovered that we couldn't get the door off!

The pintles are essentially large hooks - the door needs to be lifted off them - but at every attempt to lift the door it hit the arched entrance above it. 

After a lot of head-scratching, several cups of tea and a fair amount of hysterical laughter... it was decided to leave them where they are. Just for a while.

Answers on a postcard to...!