Two of the bedrooms each have a beautiful original arched window. Watching Billy score and form the new plasterboard linings into these openings was a treat. He's a great raconteur, and he told us many hilarious stories about his 57 years in the trade. He brought plastering techniques to these curves which are not readily available any more.
All other window openings are brand new, but I don’t think you’d know that if I hadn’t told you. They aer beautiful sliding sash casements made by craftsmen joiners in Berwick, and because they were modeled on the originals they look like they've been there for 200 years.
We built a 9-inch thick wall down the centre-line of the house, in order to provide excellent acoustic insulation between all the rooms - then the internal partitions are formed from timber framework. Those acoustic blocks weigh about three times as much as a standard breeze-block, and as the wall grew taller, we came to dread the evening hours. After the brickies went home, we would put tomorrow's stacks of blocks ready for them up on the scaffold, and we had to carry a whole day's supply up three ladders two at a time. Makes me shudder to think of it now.
The ensuite bathrooms in the two front rooms each have a 1200mm shower tray, so there’s plenty of room to turn around and enjoy the full, invigorating shower. Three of the others have a bath, with a cleverly-designed shower area at one end, and the Bede room has a fully-accessible walk-in wetroom which was difficult to get right - plumbing, drainage, underfloor heating and tiling jobs all vexed us - but it was worth it.
The brand new plumbing system is Rolls-Royce. Stop me if this is too much detail... but there are two stainless steel cylinders in the loft, each holding several hundred litres of hot water, which is fed at mains pressure to the traditional fixed shower heads. So showering is a very satisfying experience. Our spec for the plumbing system was written around the worst-case scenario, where twelve guests might arrive home at the same time cold and wet, and all want a bath or a shower immediately. No problem.
The old stone walls at ground-floor level were very rough and wonky, but they've now been straightened up in the process of insulating the walls within that new internal wooden framework. The new coving around the ceilings (an exact match to the original) restores the traditional finish.
We had to find a way to handle drainage, fan extraction, electrical installation and a plumbing system which needed to meet several criteria - including things like not being visible externally (so no new downpipes), not being audible inside when the next room flushes the loo, and getting fan extraction out through the roof from these downstairs bedrooms. Not easy - but all achieved.