2009, Under the arches

Under the arches

With the new southern boundary wall now complete, we embrace 2009 with cautious optimism, and decide to concentrate on advancing with the major glass houses. New technology under floor heating is installed in the Fig House whilst excavation work resumes along the arched frontage of the Vinery House. It’s been a few years since the two bays to the west side, exactly half of the 40m low front wall, were restored. During that period, we uncovered firm evidence of previous buildings and path ways, but it left us with many unanswered questions. Expectations of disappointment mount as the mini digger begins to scoop away the top soil.


As so often before, those expectations soon dissolve into intense curiosity and speculation; leaving no room for disappointment.


Amongst a wealth of ceramic artefacts and the occasional stone trough, evidence of a brick floor begins to emerge.


The surface of the brick floor, which is about one metre below ground, looks like it has been rendered. There are walls on three sides up to current ground level and the overall foot print measures approximately 10m x 1.5m.


Our first impression is that this end section of the Vinery House was obviously used, at some point in time, for a different purpose. The bricks appear to be contemporary with the main structure and the standard of workmanship is typically high.


A swift glimpse up the garden path reveals a parallel activity, of a horticultural nature. Preparation for the planting season remains our highest priority. We need all the help we can get to sustain productivity in the gardens. George and Millie, our recently appointed canine volunteers, appear to take their garden duties very seriously.



2009, The new Vinery structure begins to take shape

The new Vinery structure begins to take shape

There’s a lot to be said for saving the best ’till last. So much experience has been gained from previous works on the Melon & Fig Houses, providing us with valuable insight for the design of the Vinery House roof structure. Persuading the conservation officer to agree to the use of steel instead of timber for the main beams was, not surprisingly, a long process. However, the decision for choosing this solution was not taken lightly. Steel is a much stronger and more stable material, and the design of the skeletal structure is such that it does not detract from the historic façade.


Meanwhile preparation for the new tomato and lettuce patch in front of the Fig House advances with every wheelbarrow full of horse muck.