Discovering the House/Cottage History
The need for Investigation before Renovation
I first need to explain why discovering the history of the cottage is important to us. It’s obviously an old building, initial thoughts are 17th century but it could well be older.
a) We bought the property because we like the character and atmosphere of this particular historical building.
b) Thinking ahead to when it will be a holiday let, the history and feel of the place is going to be attractive to visitors, not just in the easy to let “High Season”.
c) We have a sense that we are custodians of the building with a responsibility to look after it.
All these factors add up to us wanting to do things right.
To do things RIGHT we have to decide what is RIGHT. The house has been constantly upgraded and modified to suit the occupants of the time. What we need to try and do is to renovate suit our particular needs, without destroying all the layers of history.
The big decisions are going to be where there is a conflict of goals. Do we take away 150 years or 350 years to expose previous incarnations? Do we reinstate particular features and finishes? Do we want things to look as they were or follow current fashion? The factors affecting these decisions have to be carefully weighed up.
I’m a firm believer in making difficult decisions based on facts. This brings us to the need to uncover the house’s history. Even doing this requires a hammer, chisel and pry bar so the whole process is preceded by much discussion, note taking and photography. (The parallel route involving written records will be looked at in detail later.)
A first look around the cottage as we bought it