Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Castle Great Hall Revisited....


Strengthening Corners High and Low.... 

Some of you, Dear Readers, might Remember last summer's frenzy of strengthening the Castle.... in particular adding trim around all the eaves and doors and windows of the so far completed rooms. And you might remember that I had just begun on the Great Hall when I added the structural cross beam along the upper front where none had been built in the original construction process. And that was as far as I got. The building season had come to a close and there were still several parts of the Great Hall that needed solutions! In particular the eaves just below the vaulted ceiling along the back wall. There was no supporting beam on that side either!

Here you can see what I mean. 
I have turned on the flash so you can see 
all the glaring deficiencies in this construction!
Once I had added the support across the opening side,
 it was even more necessary to strengthen the back side
 where the ceiling would meet the wall.
I had always intended to add a row of 
 "stone" buttressing under the ceiling edge,
 but had not figured out the precise method of attaching these "stones".
The window frames got in the way, for starters, 
and the wall itself is irregular,
 and the ceiling edges were even more irregular....
 It needed solutions!

Here you can see one end of the Great Hall with the ceiling removed. 
(I will not firmly attach it until I have completed the painting part....)
You can see there is no "framework" on the back wall
 to support this barrel vaulted ceiling!
(What was I thinking!)
And another place that really needed "strengthening"
 was the opening doors on the front wall. 

They have those wonderful hinges 
supporting the opening of the bi-fold doors,
 but the plywood warps terribly
 in the ever changing humidity of this region.
At the moment we are terribly humid... 
so the doors have swelled to their less warped shape
 and they close just right.
It is another story in the dry winter air.
(I could not find a picture to show you...)
But all winter I was planning out how to add "buttressing"
 to the inside panels without getting in the way of the windows.
It needed to sort of align with the roof arches... 
(for rational minds like mine!)
Which meant they would not align exactly with the hinged folds.

And after much fiddling and testing
 (a challenge when the interior can't be seen properly 
when the doors are closed!)
 I figured out where the "posts" should go...

Along with a narrower strip that would be attached to the other door panel
 and would cover the "crack" between the door sections when closed.
Believe me, these add a lot of structure to the doors!

The lighting is a little better in this picture.
 You can see that I had to carve away where
 the bracing would bump into the gallery.
And somewhere in this "strengthening" process,
 it occurred to me to just add a "beam"
across the back to support the ceiling,
 much like the one across the front,
 although it would be interrupted by the chimney flue....
It would really simplify the juncture of the roof and the wall.

Here you can see I have cut some sections of wood
 for the "stone" beams and am testing them in place.
They obscure the top of the window trim "stones"... 
but I have figured out how to integrate that into the new plan....
(It is still being constructed...)

Here those supports have been painted to resemble stone... 
but are still not glued in place.
There will be more strengthening on all the edges of this ceiling...

And the arch of the barrel vault
 needs to be made more symmetrical...

On both ends of the Great Hall.
Which is difficult to do with the ceiling in place....
And hard to tell what looks right when it is not in place!
And maybe while I am doing that,
 I will Finally finish painting all those Patient Saints!
I can Dream.... Right?

So there you can see, Dear Readers,
 the partially strengthened corners of the
 Great Hall Ceiling and Doors.
It is Progress at last!


  1. I think your supports look great! And the way you added beams to the doors is ingenious!

  2. It's such a treat to get an intimate view of the castle's rooms and to rediscover it's magnificent artwork and charming details! This excitement must only be topped by your feeling of peace and security knowing that by strengthening the structure and completing details your incredible work will be well preserved for a long time to come!
    Seeing your ambition will surely inspire and rub off on the rest of us, too, who have so many tasks and details left to be completed in our own masterpieces! Keep on going, Betsy! You are making amazing progress!

  3. Great work Betsy. I am a firm believer that the right answer will come if you give it space. And good to get the bracing timber on the doors as that should surely help the warping. It’s really satisfying to fix long overdue trouble spots and always feels like lots of soild progress.

  4. The castle is really your signature work. You must have lived in castles many times in past lives. & this one is looking great! But it does look like a long road ahead...
    Much love,

  5. Un trabajo fabuloso. Me encanta como ha quedado el techo..
    Un saludo

  6. To me the great hall looked already stunning. That ceiling is really unique! (and the floor too!) adding the visual arches and collumns carrying the weight and structure of the castle makes it look more realistic and super than it already did. It poses some chalenges though, but you always find a solution. Great fun to read! :-)


  7. Phew, I'm really late this time... The more I've enjoyed to see you working at the Castle's Great Hall again. Your explanations and the pictures give a good impression of how much thought, planning and in the end work goes into this. And although this is the type of work which will hardly ever be noticed in detail when finished (because then we just see the glory of the big picture, don't we) it's such necessary and important work to strengthen one of the most beautifully painted ceilings in miniature I've ever seen. You've found brilliant solutions to solve your "problems" with the ceiling and the door. However, while you were struggling for ways to support and protect your extraordinary work I was simply enjoying to the fullest seeing the Saints again. So beautiful!!!