Friday, 28 October 2011

my priest-hole excavated

Since I bought the house in the summer of 1999, I have always known that it had a "priest-hole". The out-house toilet's back wall was not nearly as deep as the out-house itself, and the back wall had an air-brick. What, I have always wondered, might be behind that wall? Stored crap, recently cleared out by a friend, (plus a fear of spiders in the low roof) deterred me from exploring. But today I decided to brave it.

First I angle-ground the wall with discs too shallow to do the whole job, then donned a work-man's helmet and started chiselling out some bricks until I had room to stick a mirror and torch through the hole. I don't mind admitting I was a bit scared sticking my hand through into the dark I have always rather suspected that old Mr Bloom secretly bricked his first wife up in there.

But, a little disappointingly, it just appeared to be a rubble and wood strewn room. Only when I stuck a camera and flash through the hole did the reason for the walling-up become a little clearer. I discovered that the kitchen had had a coal hole, the door of which had later been blanked off....but the doorway and door were left in place and a wall put in to create an outside toilet.

The fact that the panel blocking the door looks like insulation board and has a modern footprint on it suggests a relatively recent development, but what I don't yet understand is when the coal-hole door was put there. It is right in the place where the kitchen chimney once was, which I'd assumed developers had removed just before I bought the house, to create more space in the kitchen.