Winter closing is all too short a window for the scale of some of the maintenance jobs we undertake at Muncaster. This winter we have been redecorating in the Library plus repairing some failed plaster, which was threatening to come crashing down, up in the library’s gallery.
If ‘redecorating’ prompts thoughts of stepladders and the odd dustsheet, think again! The floors were lined with ply and the precious wooden panelling, books, furniture and paintings too large to move all had to be boxed in or sheeted for protection.
Finally scaffolding was put in with a temporary floor at the top to allow us to work on the ceiling and gallery walls of this vast octagonal space.
In the picture, you can see the large box protecting the central chandelier.
With the plaster off, the opening for a large window was revealed, which was either never commissioned or removed in the period post the major remodelling work undertaken by Anthony Salvin. We’ve since found the window on old drawings and mentioned in documents. You never know what you’ll find with these ancient buildings, when you start looking below the surface.
As you would expect with a Grade 1 listed building, all repair and maintenance work in the Castle adheres to traditional building methods. As well as being the ‘right thing’ to do, this ensures a finish in sympathy with the building and indistinguishable from the original work, very important when (as in this case) old and new sit side by side. That despite the fact that, so far up in the air, most visitors will never get near enough to inspect it closely!
In this case, having fixed the water ingress at the root of the problem and having removed the old plaster and rotten battening, a new framework of laths was fixed in place and then traditional lime-based plaster used to restore the gallery walls to their original good looks.