Tyrannell did not come with an instruction manual.
We discovered this shortly after arriving in Wales in 1999 and rapidly worked things out for ourselves. The electrics were particularly bizarre, including a light switch that worked from time to time with no discernible pattern. Central heating was only partial and required strange interventions to provide reasonable service.
We decided very soon that heating, hot water and lighting had to be replaced from scratch, both in the house and Coach House, especially if we were to offer Bed and Breakfast and self catering, and so we discovered how to make it up and make do.
We have found over the years that, not surprisingly, advice in glossy magazines on maintenance and improvements are interesting but never quite right for our particular requirements. Likewise, any later blog posts on projects at Tyrannell might be interesting, but please do not try this in your home! We prefer to specify and design solutions which fit the demands of an old and unique house like Tyrannell while using local and traditional resources and techniques – making it up and making do. This entails deciding what professional support is necessary and prudent and negotiating about what is possible. We even rescued and renovated our weather cock!
However smart and innovative our plans may have been, we would not have been successful without the co-operation and support of our local tradesmen. Our plumber Nigel Grannell, electrician Ken Canning and builder Karl Williams have been amazingly helpful (and tolerant); most noticeably Karl who, while he was able, delivered us his scrap wood for burning and – as you will hear in other posts – recycling.
We set in motion a project to provide us with safe and adequate electricity with convenient lights and switch positions and plenty of well placed power points; temperature controlled hot water supplying bathrooms and kitchen; flexible central heating for all rooms provided by a solid fuel burner and thermal store (and a combi-boiler in the Coach House). This project provides 33 radiators, 120 power points, 50 light circuits and over 60 light switches.
Now that this work is finished, I can say it has been a demanding project including a lot of disruption and tedious work (threading wires, mostly), but it gives me a great sense of achievement in delivering the goods. I have learned important details about the construction of this old building and how changes have been made over more than two hundred years and – most importantly – that there was never a golden age of workmanship!