More finds in the Northwest Stair Passage


There have been several discoveries in the Northwest Stair Passage since my last update. I have been busy removing plaster and other elements looking for evidence to support the restoration of the stair passage. The picture to the right shows the ground floor room of the Northwest Stair Passage before I began removing plaster and with the mock-up in place. The fragments that we have can also be seen in the mock-up. Just the other day I carried out over three quarters of a ton of plaster in bags from the Great House. I have identified some interesting and exciting things in the past few weeks. The most exciting (to me at least) is what I believe to be areas of plaster that are contemporary to Light Horse Harry’s stair passage. One area of plaster that would have been in the closet appears to have never received a finish coat of plaster. I believe this because the scratch coat appears to have been white washed. This white washed scratch coat was found under a layer of Portland-based plaster from the 1930s restoration. It appears that this type of original plaster also exists in the transition area between the ground floor and main floor in the stair passage opening. This discovery of 18th-century plaster gives me hope that other plaster escaped the earlier restorations and will be found throughout the Great House. The picture to the left shows the original plaster that was found on the south wall and some of the plaster and lathe that was removed.

When removing the floor boards of the main floor room, I also found a number of architectural fragments. Under the Parlor wall, on what would be the ceiling of the ground floor room, I found what is believed to be an original piece of chair railing. Other finds include wrought nails of different types–mainly lathe nails–a possible fragment of original plaster, and what appears to be a chandelier drop that remains undated. In the near future, the original plaster, chair rail fragment, and plaster fragments will have their paint analyzed to help date them and hopefully provide information in regards to the Northwest Stair Passage’s original finish types and colors.