Sunday, 19 August 2018

The Sedan Chair

While pondering the question of stairs or no stairs in The Silk Weaver's House, I decided to work on a little something that has been lurking in the stash for a number of years.

I bought this Sedan Chair at Miniatura a long time ago.   I don't know why - it didn't relate to anything I was working on at the time but I liked it and now that I have a property of the correct period, I thought I'd dress it up a bit.

*In 1634 the Sedan Chair was introduced into London as a cheaper alternative to the Hackney Cab, popular too because of its ability to pass through the narrow streets.

They were carried by individuals known as "Chairmen" and it was helpful if you weren't prone to motion sickness as they swayed and bounced when travelling at speed.

They were popular with the gentry as travelling in this fashion enabled them to keep their shoes clean.

They were also very popular in Edinburgh's Old Town again where carriages weren't able to travel due to the narrow streets ("closes").

They were legally permitted to travel on the pavement with the Chairmen shouting "Have a care" or "By your leave" although this didn't always work out well and occasionally chairs tipped over.

Chairmen were licensed and Sedan Chair stations were set up allowing travellers to hire a chair.    They were available all day but from midnight the fare was doubled.   After dark they would be accompanied by "link boys" or torch bearers.

The very wealthy would keep their own Chair, decorated to reflect the d├ęcor of their homes and kept in the hallway.

As cities grew bigger, travel by Chair became impossible and by the mid 19th century it had virtually disappeared from the streets.

*Taken from an article The Sedan Chair by Ellen Castelow, Historic UK.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

The House Exterior

As a reminder, the kit I used for this build is The Kensington from Barbara's Mouldings.   It was the closest I could find that matched the RL property.    It had to be altered a bit on the front a) to look more like the original and b) to fit on my cabinet.    The balcony, porch, steps, railings and front extension were removed and replaced with the Cellar.

Below is the watercolour drawing* shown previously of the exterior of the RL building.

* Courtesy of Ben Rea

The following are photos showing the progress and also the internal wall debate I'm still having with myself.    To give each room equal space, the internal walls cut straight down the central window.   If I put the staircase in, the halfway point is nudged over between the windows but the rooms are of course smaller.    The debate continues!

The last couple of days have been spent creating the lantern above the front door and working out the best way to support it.    The lantern was made from card with acrylic inserts, a birthday candle and a couple of findings to decorate the top.   The support was created from a cut down window frame found in my wood stash.

The main door to the property is also finally fixed.   As said previously I changed my mind about the magnets, went with the original hinges and added two little hooks to ensure it didn't swing open when I wasn't looking.

I have also included Madge.    Madge is resident in the RL property.   She is actually Madge III (Madge being short for Her Majesty) and has recently celebrated her 10th birthday.    She will pop up in various rooms as I go along, no doubt.

I managed to track down a Royalty free image of the actual building to give you all a better idea of what I'm up to*

* Image courtesy of Flickr

Saturday, 4 August 2018

The Crumbly Kitchen

This space is not a difficult space to deal with apart from having to create a lot of the crumbly brick effect.    The (slight) problem is in trying to remember what few items were tucked away in the corners to give it character.   Thankfully my sister did a quick sketch when we visited so hopefully that will tell me what I need.

As for layout, as seen in the picture below (thanks again, Ben Rea* for your amazing drawings), the crumbly kitchen is on the left of the cross section and the working kitchen on the right.    As I've placed the Courtyard outside on the left, I've swapped the kitchens around.

* Copyright Ben Rea

According to the book 18 Folgate Street that we bought relating to the RL property, this space was part of the original building on this land and shows excavations.

This is the original text as written by Dennis Severs.    The house’s ten rooms harbour ten ‘spells’ that engage the visitor’s imagination in moods that dominated the periods between 1724 – 1914.   Your senses are your guide.

Room One:   The Cellar.   You begin in the dark by discovering a crater in which are fragments of St Mary’s Spital, AD 1197, and hence the name “Spitalfields”. *

*Taken from the Dennis Sever website - with thanks for their permission to use.

I have also taken the liberty of swapping elements around to make the best use of space.   By rights, the excavations should be on the left as shown above but I hope I've included everything to give the general feel of the original.

So, this is what's been happening -

Lots of bricks and logs

A window aperture was created and, as there is no real window space on the side wall, I hunted down an outside picture that, I hope, fits the bill.

Then of course I had to have a little play while waiting on the wooden ceiling varnish to dry and to check that my "excavations" were in the correct place.

More work on the Crumbly Kitchen has taken place since these photos were taken as I had to wait for some deliveries.    There are a couple of points to note, namely the siting of the excavations.     For my purposes I had to place the window and all relevant bits to the right of the room which meant swapping round other items on view.    This was because I'd swapped Kitchens around and no-one would come out of a crumbly kitchen onto a Courtyard.    Apart from that, all elements in the room remain the same.    I have also added a couple of lights.    There is no lighting in the Crumbly Kitchen of the real building but it wouldn't do to have done all this work and no one able to see it!

The excavations had to be built up gradually while the glue dried.

The assembled excavations.

I had to guess what would be in the corner opposite the shelved unit as I didn't have any information regarding this space.

If you look closely - to the top right of the window - there is a spider caught in the web.

For fun, and for a comparison with the original photo, I've taken this picture from (hopefully) the same angle as the original and altered it to black and white.

and finally, a reminder of the inspirational photo shown previously of the original kitchen*.

*Copyright Roelof Bakker with many thanks for his permission to use this photograph.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

The completed Cellar (almost)

Before talking about the Courtyard, I have a wee update on the magnets I mentioned previously as a way of fixing the main door of this property - it's not going to happen!   I lined them up, fixed them in place and closed the door but it just wasn't right.    Although they were smallish magnets the fact that they were visible was annoying and they cut into the placing of the cornice - right where your eye lands so out they came.   I'm going back to the original plan of using the hinges that came with the kit.  

So, onward.

Apart from some additions to the Courtyard, I think I'm pretty much done with the Cellar space.

More bits have been added to each of the three spaces and although it's still not as "crumbly" as I think it should be I'm just going to have to live with that otherwise I'd be fiddling and faffing for ever.  Time to move on.

This is how it all looks now -

The Ale/Fruit & Veg store -

Coal and Log Store -

The fabulous (non-electrified) lanterns, buckets and stool came from Ashwood Designs

and my coal heap was created using real coal smashed down to 12th scale (thank you Elizabeth), built up on a separate base and held in place with liberal amounts of glue.   I did the same with the logs in the Log Store.

The next room on my list is this very old and very crumbly kitchen -

* With many thanks to Roelof Bakker for his permission to use this photograph

Friday, 25 May 2018

A Cellar Update

As I may have mentioned before, there are no cellars to view in the RL Dennis Sever building but as the kit I'm using for this project has cellar space, I have to use it.    I found out that there is actually a cellar under the pavement of the RL building and this would have been used for storing fruit/veg etc. so for my purposes, I've put together a space that includes these items and a small Courtyard garden.   There is a little garden space at the back of the RL building but again, for my purposes, I've brought it round to the front.

This is the Cellar space I have been agonising over -

Coming out the back door (from Kitchen) I've started off with some ivy, a cobbled together bench (cardboard box, brick stencil and paving) topped off with a statue.   There is still a lot to do by way of adding bits to these spaces but I was just so pleased at having finally come to a decision on how to deal with them that I had to show you!   I must also give a wee nod of thanks to Elizabeth at Studio E for her beautiful pictures featuring the garden at Green Dolphin Street.   I went through all her garden photos for inspiration on how to kick start my greenery!

Moving through the arch to the central space, I've created an ale and vegetable store as seen through the basement window.   This too still has a long way to go and so far, to the right are the vegetables and to the left the ale and, of course, gin.    I'm just pleased something is happening at last.

Again, through the arch, leads to the coal cellar/log store.   Logs to the right, coal to the left.   Lots to add here and I also have to work out how to create my mound of coal.

On another note - there are no detailed pictures of the DS roof and the RL building doesn't have dormer windows like the property I am using so it's hard to see if there's lead up there (especially as it wasn't built to be super grand) and if there is, it would have been added to comply with our present day Building Regulations.     I went on a quest to find out if lead was actually used for flashing or on dormer windows back in the 1700s and what I was really hunting for was a sentence that would read "they started using lead for flashing in............." but there wasn't!    After quite some time spent hunting, I decided that if the Georgians were mining lead, then they would be using it.   After all, it had been around since the Romans - which leads me quite nicely into something I discovered.

The Romans referred to individuals who worked with pipes etc as "plumbums".    By Medieval times anyone working with lead was known as a "plumbarius" which, over time, eventually turned into...............plumber.   How interesting is that?     I love all these little historical nuggets.