You may have seen this imposing building during your travels in the Great Haseley area of Oxfordshire. Sadly, it has fallen into neglect and the years have taken their toll. A major restoration project is now underway, aiming to return this historic building to its former glory. Follow the progress of the restoration in our blog....

The Restoration Team

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Cement and centipedes

After the last post, we have been continuing with the replacement of rotten lintels on the inside of the mill. These are now complete, leaving the outermost member of each lintel to be dealt with in the future, pending scaffolding.

Recently, we have turned our attention to exterior masonry. Where to begin?! The original lime mortar, in places, has crumbled quite badly. This appears to have been repointed on at least three occasions. Once, and presumably some time ago, with lime mortar of a more coarse texture. Secondly, with a brown/grey cement, and lastly with an almost black cement. The latter is most prevalent around the base of the tower, seemingly in an effort to weatherproof this region of damaged stone.

Showing original mortar and patches of flaky grey/brown cement, covered with lichen

Unfortunately, cement does not breathe as lime mortar does, and so any water which gets in, tends to be trapped. This is quite clear when chasing out the cement: it is covered with lichen and the original mortar behind it is dark in colour, crumbly and damp, with centipedes, woodlice and even worms living in the cracks. Ironically, the original, un-repointed lime is in a much better state, with no lichen or beasties.

The effect of trapped moisture is also shown by frost damage to much of the stone which had been smeared over with cement.

So begins a labour of love...chasing out the cement and loose mortar, before repointing with lime and, where necessary, filling in stone where the frost damage is at its worst. Give us a day or two (cough!....)

After chasing out, the stonework is more defined.

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