How to save a (Regency) kitchen
Up a scaffold I hatched a plan. Looking down at an old kitchen I imagined the dresser restored and a huge kitchen table in the middle. One day I would make historic recipes in this space and bring the kitchen back to life with food. One day…
A cold November day when I found the place I wanted to be
It was a particularly cold November day when I first stumbled into the old kitchen. It didn’t look anything like a kitchen, back then. I remember piles of debris scattered around a tall scaffolding tower which soared above me to a large skylight. Through the skylight I could just about see the blue winter’s sky.
It was freezing cold, dusty and noisy. People were working around me as I stood still and stared; walls were wet with sticky lime plaster and sawdust coated the floor. Electric cables dangled down from the high ceiling. The room smelt of dust and neglect. Somebody shouted to me that this used to be the old kitchen and I knew I found the place I wanted to be.
Secret kitchen dreams
I started working there and, week by week, helped to transform that space. It became something of a mission. Walls and ceilings were plastered. Empty holes in the walls were filled with windows and doors. As part of the team I worked hard but, when I asked, no one seemed to know what would happen to the room when all the work was finished. “The curator hasn’t decided yet,” it was whispered. That’s when I had my secret kitchen dreams.
A discovery and a turning point
The discovery of the original kitchen dresser was a turning point. It emerged from the largest woodpile I had ever seen. The woodpile, underneath the staircase, reached from the floor to ceiling. Mouldings, old doors, pieces of furniture piled up in a staggering heap. An unstable structure. The dresser was in two parts; a bottom piece complete with four drawers, the top piece a huge, historic pile of planks. I remember thinking it looked like a Jenga puzzle I had to solve.
Looking down at that old kitchen I imagined the dresser restored and a huge kitchen table in the middle. One day I would make historic recipes in this space and bring the kitchen back to life with food. Up a scaffold I hatched a plan…