Early in December 2014 we received the Building Control approval, so on a sunny day at the end of the month we at last started work on the Chapel. The ground floor has 3 rooms. two had dirt floors and the third slate flags. These floors have to be dug out to make way for a solid insulated floor and underground drainage for the stack that will serve the bathroom on the mezzanine. We start on the “Good Room” so called because in what little history of the chapel we have uncovered, there is reference to “a good room beneath the chapel” where Sunday School was held. The Chapel was built in an old limestone quarry on the site of a Beer House and gardens, and our digging soon reveals the character of the site. Soil and stones lying on top of uplifted limestone, in several places the solid rock is just under a thin layer of dirt.
Two ledges were exposed on either side of the room, perfectly level and had perhaps supported a wooden floor, further suggesting this was the Sunday School, “good room”. By the end of the the first weekend the the soil and stone from the floor had started to pile up
Over the following 3 weekends in January, we return to the task of digging out the rock and soil. To accommodate the floor construction we need to dig down about 40cm, which meant removing a fair bit of solid rock. After the good room we dug out what will be the hall. It was not possible to use a mechanical breaker on rock where it ran under the walls, so a lot of it had to be broken off using just a pick-axe and iron bar.
The final room, had a slate flagstone floor laid on packed soil. Thoughts of re-laying the slate floor were quickly eliminated as the many of the slate slabs were very thin and broke easily, others were 5-8 cm thick. The floor was higher in this room and so a lot more had to be removed to get down to the right level. During the digging, apart from the usual broken pottery a lot of leather shoe soles were uncovered, combine them with a set of metal lasts found in the stone outbuilding and it would appear that someone made or repaired shoes here at some point. The digging in this room was quite easy until we hit the large rock slab towards the front. This rock ran under the internal wall, it was also across the line where the underground drain would run.We removed as much as we could without de-stabilising the internal wall. Then we turned out attention to digging the trench from the IC in the garden.
(There are more pictures of this stage in the album below)