Museum News

Chalk & Cheese Repairs

By 21 January 2023February 1st, 2023No Comments
Chalk & cheese repairs

Our conservation team at the Museum has been busy undertaking repairs to the floor in the Hall House from Boarhunt.

Boarhunt floor

Work on the floors in the Weald and Downland Museum buildings in Singleton, Chichester, West Sussex, UK.
11th January 2023
Photograph by Sam Stephenson, 07880 703135, www.samstephenson.co.uk.

The Hall House, originally from Boarhunt in Hampshire, dates back to the late 14th century.  It is a small but well-built example of a medieval open hall. In 1970, after being derelict for some years, it was recognised that it was an unusual type of building. It was then dismantled and later reconstructed at the Museum in 1981.

The building features a traditional chalk floor, which is made from mixing chalk and sour milk. 

This type of chalk floor, sometimes referred to as ‘Chalk & Cheese’. It is the combination of the two components and is an early form of concrete commonly found in Wealden hall houses. Chalk would often be used in medieval England where the material could be easily obtained. 

Fine dusty chalk from a local quarry would be laid and compacted to produce a smooth surface. Then the milk was poured on top and left to soak in. It would take several months for the floor to solidify and harden. Using the sour milk (unpasteurised) was essential to strengthening the floor subject to its heavy wear.

Our conservation team have been using a similar technique to undertake some minor repairs on the floor. The repairs have taken a couple of weeks to complete due to the current winter climate and will take a few weeks to fully dry out. 

You can find out more about the Hall House from Boarhunt – here