Although the Museum has had to close to the public, there is still essential work underway to maintain care of the historic collection. We are planning and undertaking this with extreme care for the limited number of individuals involved, as necessary at the current time.
In preparation for the rethatching of the medieval building from Hangleton, hazel poles for battens are currently being cut from the Museum woodland as part of our coppice management. Last weekend was due to have been our historic life weekend focusing on historic woodland management, and this work has been continued throughout the winter months although sadly it is visible to the public to the moment.
An incredibly special element of this Museum is the interconnections between the areas of the site that make up the whole Museum. The purpose of this woodland work is to show the practice of woodland management from a point in the past to provide the materials that would have been needed by the people living and working in our buildings, preparing materials for other interpretation across the Museum and creating a working landscape.
Material for many uses is being cut, and sorted as work progresses. For example, alongside the battens, there is wood produced for fires, smaller material cut for faggots for the bakehouse or Tudor kitchen, stakes for fencing and hedging, rods for wattle fencing and more. Jon Roberts, Rural Life Interpreter, is managing this work and out in all weathers to complete as much as possible after the delays of the last year before the season for cutting material ends. Ideally material is cut before the sap rises, i.e. around the end of March or early April.
The medieval building from Hangleton is one of the two archaeological reconstructions on the Museum site, and is based on the archaeological evidence of the 13th century deserted medieval village of Hangleton, north of Hove in East Sussex. Since it was built in 1971, it has been re-thatched and had repairs to the thatch at various times. Over the course of last year, the thatch of Hangleton deteriorated at a rate faster than anticipated, so we have moved forward the planned rethatching to earlier this year. The roof structure is sound apart from the battens so in this instance all the thatch will be removed so that new battens can be attached, and then it will be rethatched. Prior to Christmas, we had a small to do a small, temporary ‘agricultural style’ thatch repair to the back of the building, to keep the roof frame dry. We continue to monitor the condition of the thatch and are aiming for this work to take place over the next few months.
Carpentry repairs will soon start on the House from North Cray, as a next building conservation work at the Museum. This 15th century building was one of the earlier buildings on the Museum site, re-erected in 1984 by Museum Carpenter Roger Champion. Following a tendering process last year, Green Oak Carpentry Company will be undertaking this phase of the work. Prior to their start next week, some daub panels have been removed adjacent to the areas being repaired. After the carpentry repairs to the frame, the next stage will be the laths and daub panels as well as repainting areas of the frame. Further updates will share the progress of this conservation work. As a Museum we are interested to record the resin repairs of the building and how they have fared, early such examples undertaken by Roger Champion on the building and we are also looking more generally at the use of paint on the exterior of timber-framed buildings.