We know this makes a lot of people sad.
During the past two days, D’Arcy and the boys have been tackling a job that we’ve put off since 2009 – our stone wall. On Easter Sunday of 2009, when he turned the corner to go to church, D’Arcy discovered that part of the small section of our stone wall had washed away in heavy rain and part of it had fallen. (Story and photos here.) At the time, he cleaned it up as best and as safely as he could, saving all the stones – in our garden – with the plan to rebuild.
Belgravia B&B was named such after we had learned that the original name of Broad Street was Belgravia Avenue. Two months after we opened, I ran into a man who had grown up in the house from the 1920’s – 1960’s who informed me that the house had been known as “Stoneycroft” from the time it was built, due to the stone wall. (Wish we had known.)
The wall is part of the house’s history.
It soon became apparent that rebuilding wouldn’t be as simple as we had hoped. The wall, 105 years old at that time (111 now), was not built on a foundation and the mortar has turned to sand over the years.
The long part of the wall has shifted as well, and half of it is leaning sharply towards the sidewalk. Last summer, we had hoped to get the entire wall fixed, so had professionals come and give us quotes.
We’re looking at a price range of $20,000.
For a wall. A wall that’s beautiful and sentimental but, sadly, not a necessity.
We have four children to put through university.
D’Arcy & the boys spent the past two days taking down the short section of the wall that originally started to fall six years ago. They were able to save the posts, and D’Arcy graded the lawn to the sidewalk. We have planted raspberry bushes in between the posts, with the intention that they will become a hedge that gives back. We have a picture of the house from 1916 and there was originally a hedge behind the wall, so putting this one in is like returning a different piece of history of the property.
As for the long section? D’Arcy is marking provincial exams for the next two weeks, so there won’t be any work done on it until later in the month. He has an idea to try to stabilize it, but if it doesn’t work, that section will have to come down for safety reasons as well – we hate the thought of having someone sit on it, or a child climb on it, and get hurt.
Not an easy decision; one six years in the making…
We’re sad too.
What was left of the short section of wall when they started to take it down.
Work in progress…
Raspberry bushes are planted; sod arrives tonight. Happy to have been able to save the pillars at least.
Stoneycroft, now Belgravia, 1916. Note the driveway used to come in off Prince Street (the address was 416 Prince Street at that time) and the hedge behind the wall. Thank you Colchester Historical Society for the photo.