The contract work is now complete just some tidying up jobs to do and what’s more it has all been achieved according to the schedule set out by the architect from the detailed survey carried out last autumn. The scaffold has come down revealing a building with a new look. The exterior has been coated in limewash which covers the timbers as well as the plaster. This is to protect the wood and to prevent the build-up of moisture in the cracks and joins around the plaster panels. We hope this is not too much of a shock but it will soon weather making the grain of the timber more pronounced. Please look at images of Lavenham Guildhall to see the effect that we are trying to create and remember that for most of its life the building was probably rendered completely with plaster.
The whole ethos of the renovation has been to return as much as possible to traditional materials which in the past have saved it by allowing the building to breath. The application of ‘modern’ materials in the 20th century solved problems at the time but in hindsight caused more than they cured. Any moisture will evaporate naturally into the atmosphere rather than collect in odd corners causing damp spots where rotting can start again.
An initial dendrochronology survey of the timbers has given us hope that a date can be put on the original construction and with that in mind some small core samples will be taken from carefully selected places. During these investigations, with the help of the scaffold, we have had a much closer look at the woodwork which could give us a better idea of what the buildings first purpose was and why it is where it is.
To finish the work off the windows, every individual pane of glass, will have a UV light protection film applied which helps to reduce the fading effect of sunlight on the objects in our care that are on display. The Friends of the museum have commissioned a beautiful wrought iron handrail to give easier access up the stairs. And please note the swift boxes put up under the eaves to they will still have a home when they come back next year.
I do hope you will enjoy the new look museum. I know the builders have been pleased and surprised at the interest passers-by have shown. It has been a great insight and privilege to work with the architect, the contractors, Historic England and all the craftsmen who have brought their skills to give us a result that we can live with and admire for years to come.