We passed a renovation milestone today – the first builder made a site visit in order to tender for the work! I liked JB and he spent two hours here discussing the house and the project with me. He was very observant and conscious of the need to work around us: containing the cats, the fact that we are living in the house and that our possessions are spread throughout. He also thought we should salvage and sell the Edwardian handmade terracotta quarry tiles in the kitchen and breakfast room as he had just bought hundreds of them for another project at £2 each! We probably have eight hundred of them downstairs and instead of ignoring the fact that they weren’t on our ‘salvage list’, technically meaning they would be his to dispose of, he suggested we reclaim them.
JB’s observant nature continued outside and he was keen to see what was under this slab. He asked if he could go and get his crowbar. I was as curious as he to see what was there.
It was a well! Well, technically it’s called a cistern, as a well accesses groundwater. The cistern is a beehive-shaped underground tank built of brick and lined with cement and was designed to collect and store rainwater from the roof of the house. This would then be used for tasks such as the laundry because the rain water was much softer compared to hard, high mineral content groundwater. The water would usually be accessed by a hand-operated pump but ours has long since gone.
JB did some measurements. The cistern is about six feet deep and four feet wide and had about five feet of water in it. It’s a lovely feature but unfortunately sits right on the edge of where our new foundations need to be built (just by that row of bricks to the left of JB). Our architect wants to keep the tank as the water can be used for the garden but I am in favour of the lowest cost option, which may be to fill it in with concrete. Given the rain we get here, combined with our aversion to gardening, I think we would hardly ever use the water stored here! We shall wait and see.