Black Hole

Fireplace Wm


Finally, we have a dining room that isn’t full of boxes.

It could be an impressive fireplace, were it not for the black. And, according to our predecessor, there’s a coat of polyurethane sealant on top of that too. It’s all coming off. I hope.

The first job, now I can get to it, a damn good clean. So, this morning, “Tally-Ho!” and in with the vacuum. Its bag is now bursting with hundreds of dead woodlice, spiders, flies and webs. It was a mission worthy of Indiana Jones. Just no archaeological gem lurking enticingly at the back. The stonework is crumbly in places. Even so, I suspect we will end up having to blast it, along with the beams. But I shall have a go at some poultice paint stripping first. A long and painstaking task for bad weather days.

In the longer term though, there’s a much bigger job. The heating boiler resides in the cupboard on the right hand side. When it was installed, 27 years ago, a hole was created in the side of the chimney breast through which passes the flue. The original opening above the hearth has therefore, sadly, been sealed up. But the boiler is well past its sell by date. When it finally packs up its replacement, funds permitting, will be an external one. The whole shooting match goes outside. With luck the alterations to the chimney breast will prove to be reversible. And we’ll get a lovely big cupboard back too.


2017-11-09T21:22:33+00:00February 27th, 2013|Tags: |


  1. Cumbrian February 27, 2013 at 4:38 pm - Reply

    Certainly a very impressive fireplace.
    You putting a woodburner or just a pair of dog irons for burning long logs? I think it’ll look good with either.

    • Jessica February 27, 2013 at 6:11 pm - Reply

      Dogs. Same problem as the sitting room fireplace, the chimney passes through the thatch. Ideally I’d like to replace the tiled hearth with a slab of stone, it would look more in keeping and cope better with the heat.

  2. BadPenny February 27, 2013 at 5:41 pm - Reply

    Good luck. I admire your energy !

    • Jessica February 27, 2013 at 6:12 pm - Reply

      It may take a while…!

  3. Vera February 27, 2013 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    Lovely fireplace. We don’t have any of the big original fireplaces left here because they fell down before we arrived and we didn’t want to put a ‘pretend’ fireplace in because it wouldn’t have looked right, so we are going to have a wood burning range in the kitchen, and a free standing woodburner in the dining room, and I shall look forward to seeing how your wonderful fireplace is turns out.

    • Jessica February 27, 2013 at 6:38 pm - Reply

      You’re right Vera. I’d do exactly the same.

  4. Sue February 27, 2013 at 6:36 pm - Reply

    That’s a big job but it will look wonderful once completed – Good Luck.

    • Jessica February 27, 2013 at 6:41 pm - Reply

      It’ll look odd for a while, but if the poultice treatment works I’ll do a bit at a time. On rainy days when I can’t be outside! Thanks Sue.

  5. Anne February 27, 2013 at 7:31 pm - Reply

    That really is a labour of love! I’m looking forward to seeing how it progresses. Malcolm is still nursing our boiler along – hopefully he can keep it going until the summer.

    • Jessica February 27, 2013 at 7:56 pm - Reply

      I did the same in our last house. That one was beautiful Oxford red brick underneath white gloss paint. Sacrilege! It took forever…
      I’ll keep my fingers crossed for both of our old boilers!!!

  6. Heather February 27, 2013 at 8:19 pm - Reply

    It will be lovely when it’s done!!!! Good luck, looking forward tothe continuing tales!!

    • Jessica February 27, 2013 at 9:52 pm - Reply

      Hi Heather and welcome to rusty duck!
      Oh, I do hope so. The little bits of paint that went up the hoover suggest something better underneath..

  7. rachel February 27, 2013 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    I’ll be watching the poultice method with interest!

    • Jessica February 27, 2013 at 9:54 pm - Reply

      Me too. I hope it works…

  8. Judith February 27, 2013 at 9:50 pm - Reply

    Lovely fireplace, especially when you have that paint off. Ours here is similar tho wothout the paint, and there’s a wood burner in it. Very efficient and would have been superb with a back boiler. Good luck with the project.

    • Jessica February 27, 2013 at 10:16 pm - Reply

      Thanks Judith. It will be quite some project, but worth it I hope.

  9. CherryPie February 28, 2013 at 12:49 am - Reply

    I looks like it is all coming together 🙂

    • Jessica February 28, 2013 at 11:47 am - Reply

      It’s progress, but for every job completed there tends to be another waiting in the wings..!

  10. haggiz February 28, 2013 at 7:49 am - Reply

    I loved your Indiana Jones quote, I had visions of you dodging arrows, big stone balls rolling out of the fireplace and you brandishing your trusty hoover at natives! Julie x

    • Jessica February 28, 2013 at 11:47 am - Reply

      You were there!!

  11. elaine February 28, 2013 at 8:38 am - Reply

    That fireplace is huge it must have looked lovely originally – hope you can get it back to its former glory

    • Jessica February 28, 2013 at 11:56 am - Reply

      Much of what we have to do involves reversing past ‘improvements’. Will we have more respect for original features in the future I wonder?

  12. Simone February 28, 2013 at 8:41 am - Reply

    That’s a fantastic fireplace. I am sure it will turn out great and I am looking forward to seeing the finished result!

    • Jessica February 28, 2013 at 12:01 pm - Reply

      Thanks Simone. The building work worries me more than the paint. I hope it will all result in a working fireplace too.

  13. Em February 28, 2013 at 10:12 am - Reply

    I can see you getting through a few wire brushes over the next few weeks!

    • Jessica February 28, 2013 at 12:03 pm - Reply

      I think you’re right!

  14. Rosie February 28, 2013 at 1:43 pm - Reply

    That is an impressive fireplace! It does sound like a lot more hard work for you both though and lots of dust too, hope all goes well:)

    • Jessica February 28, 2013 at 7:08 pm - Reply

      Thanks Rosie. At least we can take our time over this one, unlike the bookshelves there is no rush to get it done.

  15. snowbird February 28, 2013 at 2:40 pm - Reply

    Wow, what an amazing feature that will be.xxxxx

    • Jessica February 28, 2013 at 7:13 pm - Reply

      I hope so, thanks snowbird!

  16. Wendy February 28, 2013 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    I wonder where the fashion for a black coating on beams/brickwork came from. Your fireplace is wonderful feature and I can imagine it will be perfect with a roaring fire on a cold day.

    • Jessica February 28, 2013 at 7:26 pm - Reply

      The Victorians started it I believe, but the fashion continued until relatively recently. The vision of a lazy supper in front of a roaring fire will certainly keep the project on track!

  17. starproms February 28, 2013 at 6:57 pm - Reply

    The room will look beautiful when it is finished. It looks pretty good already. Hope you get the new boiler soon – before next winter at any rate!!!

    • Jessica February 28, 2013 at 7:32 pm - Reply

      It’s a balancing act.. keeping the old one going as long as possible, without landing ourselves in the position of having no working boiler at all!

  18. John February 28, 2013 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    You are so busy all of the time…. I understand that fact…. If you ever stopped.. You would loose your impetus would you. Not?

    • Jessica February 28, 2013 at 7:42 pm - Reply

      That’s very true.
      And when the weather improves, there’ll be all the outdoor jobs to do as well 🙁
      I hope your flu is getting better.

  19. Viv February 28, 2013 at 11:53 pm - Reply

    We sand blasted our stone fireplace opening in the old house which was covered in a black tar like substance and it came up great but the sand which was actually like a black grit went everywhere and could be seen coming through the closed windows even in the attic and we had all the doorways taped up too!
    We have an outside boiler house at the cottage (sounds posh doesn’t it!!) as we have an oil fired boiler and I didn’t want to risk the smell inside in the kitchen even though they all say they don’t smell…they do!
    Good luck with the restoration works we are off to see our rubble pile this weekend.

    • Jessica March 1, 2013 at 10:36 am - Reply

      I’m glad your fireplace came up well, gives me hope!
      Anne, who commented on a previous post, suggested dry ice blasting which is a lot cleaner. I will use it if I can find someone who does it down here.
      Have a good weekend.

  20. Ali March 1, 2013 at 6:49 am - Reply

    That’s a big job – but you guys will be up to it I’m sure.

    Did my own hoover-traumatising yesterday by vacuuming out the car. TWO canisters of muck later. I am ashamed.

    • Jessica March 1, 2013 at 10:39 am - Reply

      But doesn’t it also make you feel so virtuous when you’ve done it??

  21. young at heart March 2, 2013 at 11:21 am - Reply

    wow….good luck but it will look stunning……!!

    • Jessica March 2, 2013 at 11:46 am - Reply

      Oh, I do hope so…!

  22. Countryside Tales March 2, 2013 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    Jessica it looks fab! We had one very similar in an ancient cottage years ago, the previous owners “discovered” it, complete with medieval shoe and a horse’s foot!

    • Jessica March 2, 2013 at 9:49 pm - Reply

      A medieval shoe.. wonderful.
      A horse’s foot.. Yikes.
      Welcome to rusty duck!

  23. ropcorn March 3, 2013 at 10:33 am - Reply

    That is the biggest fireplace I have ever seen! 😮 Looks quite impressive.

    • Jessica March 3, 2013 at 1:22 pm - Reply

      Sadly many of these original inglenook fireplaces were bricked up. We are lucky to have it, even though it can’t be used at the moment.

  24. Vintage jane March 4, 2013 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    Wonderful big fireplace – it will look fabulous when finished. Good luck!
    I love the bookcase in your previous post. What a fantastic job he did.

    • Jessica March 4, 2013 at 6:11 pm - Reply

      I’m not looking forward to the task, but hopefully we can improve on its current state. The bookcase has been a success though, thanks!

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