One more consultant and one more discovery: the Castle floats on water.
It is a romantic thought, a floating Castle and as Ian dug the trial pits down in the cellar and broke through the mere 200mm of foundations, the blue clay seeped with St Helens spring water which now sits in little pools that my lovely black toads would be happy to live in. If I ever harboured any ideas of underfloor heating, or even of a dry cellar, they are out of the window. The house is best left undisturbed to sit on this dubious foundation and unstable substrata . So now, once the vast radiators are installed, we will live in our steamy atmosphere with the original floors intact . And I have always wanted to make Whisky, my favourite tipple, from this lovely water, could I do it in the cellar?
The St Helen’s springs cause endless fun here. Once the fish had gone to their new home, (as described in ‘A House of Consultants’ a few weeks ago) the pond was drained, the fountain removed and the plan was simply to fill it in. Instead we have unearthed a simple but nicely built Victorian bottle well, which is filled by the continual seepage from a nearby spring, the overflow discharging down into the Mill Pond below.
But I have other plans for the well. The Castle will be my Villa Lante, where the height of the water at the top of the garden is used to power a series of Mannerist watery flights of fancy. I am not going for the dizzying heights of a crayfish waterfall, but I envisage, thanks to my new Bannerman bible bought on my recent holiday (I need a ‘Gin and Tonic’, also posted a few weeks ago), a ferny rill and plopping fountain at the centre of the fernery at the bottom of the garden, rill and fountain both fed by the fall of the water from the bottle well. It is a dream, a technical flight of fancy, calling, I should think, for another Consultant.
Meanwhile existing Consultants embrace with relish and querying glances my request for an exterior lit only by gas lights. Since visiting New Orleans, I too want that low, ambient flickering light that is that is so atmospheric in the French Quarter at night. The best gas lights are made there, but are not legal in the UK and I suppose it wouldn’t be right to buy American lights when gas lights are also made in the Crawley. I have only to satisfy myself that they are tweaked to my specifications: suitably distressed, with the twiddly bits removed. Then the way to my watery den will be suitably lit.