Tuesday, December 11, 2007


CAST IRON RADIATORS are a perfect feature for a period home particularly this time of year. These units are either wall hung or stand on their own feet. Exposure to harsh winters and hot summers can potentially be damaging for ironwork and rust can appear, so regular maintenance and upkeep is essential. The best way to do this is with a good brush down and a fresh lick of paint. Although painting is a great prevention for rust and damage, a painted surface can mask splits and cracks, so care should be taken when buying reclaimed metal work. The first step in the cleaning process is to make sure that the ironwork is clean and dry and free from rust. Various grades of sandpaper, wire brushes, flame cleaning can be used to remove rust and old loose paint. Most paint systems for iron require a primer, undercoat and top coat but some are designed to do it all in one coat. Either way, paint is undeniably the best protection and it should be renewed every 3 to 5 years. Colour is important and black is renowned to be the most popular for gates, railings and most exterior ironwork. However, it was not until the death of Price Albert in 1861 that black became popular , before this red, green and blue were all colours of choice. This was probably due to the more vibrant colours were more expensive to mix and were therefore used as a status symbol.

OLD WROUGHT IRON Dating back centuries, old wrought iron is highly prized for its fibrous and malleable structure. the original blacksmith's material can be hammered and beaten when hot and twisted and bent when cold. Its knobbly surface and non-uniform appearance sets it apart from cast iron and steels more uniform and smooth surface. Unfortunately, old wrought ironwork is no longer widely available, being so labour intensive to produce but many skilled blacksmiths and foundries still exist and produce beautifully decorative wrought ironwork.

CAST IRON, as its name suggests, it is formed by pouring molten metal into a mould or 'cast'. Although cast iron is not easily worked like old wrought iron, it can be successfully welded or machined. Cast iron is the traditional choice for rainwater goods and can still be seen on many Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian properties today. It was also a popular choice for larger items such as railings and gates, being cheaper and quicker to produce than wrought iron. properly cared for, it will last for centuries but its main drawback is its brittleness and risk of shattering.

MODERN WROUGHT STEEL This refined form of iron can be worked when hot or cold and is often used as an alternative to wrought iron. It wasn't produced in large quantities until the middle of the 19th century, but today has largely replaced old wrought iron and many examples will be seen around the home today.

Period House

Courses for period homeowners

Furniture Restoration
Learn how to do small repairs, French polishing, stripping and re-polishing, surface cleaning and revival and repairing lost veneer. No previous experience needed.
12 - 13 January, Assington near Sudbury, Suffolk
£140 (including lunch and materials, accommodation £25 per night)
For further information or to book on the course contact: Anne Holden, Assington Mill Farm, Tel: 01787 229955 or visit www.assingtonmill.com

Carpentry for beginners
Tailor-made for enthusiastic but inexperienced amateurs and will cover what to make, timber choice and acquisition, tools required, wood finishes, ironmongery and adhesives, plus the handicrafts of tool sharpening, cutting, planing and chiseling, classic timber joints and the use of routers and lathes.
18 January, Assington near Sudbury, Suffolk
£45 (including lunch and refreshments, accommodation £25 per night)
For further information or to book on the course contact: Anne Holden, Assington Mill Farm, Tel: 01787 229955 or visit www.assingtonmill.com

Basket weaving, chair seating and willow work
You will be shown how to construct baskets from sustainable willow. You will complete two or three projects, with a choice from shopping and laundry baskets to storage boxes and letter racks - whilst learning about willow harvesting, construction techniques and handle making.
11 - 14 January, West Dean College, West Dean, Chichester
£220 (non residential, residential visits vary)
For further information or to book on the course contact: West Dean College, Tel: 0844 499 4408 or visit www.westdean.org.uk

Period House

Monday, December 10, 2007

3000 year old mummy has CT Scan

Above: The coffin of a 3,000 year old Egyptian Priest [pict from Metro]

Above: Mummy to undergo CT scan at the University College Hospital [pict from Times]

College Hospital, London UK

A hi-tech examination by the NHS of a 3,000-year-old mummy will seek to uncover more of the hidden secrets of ancient Egypt. An elaborate coffin concealing the body of a priest called Nesperennub is to undergo a computerised 'tomography' scan at University College Hospital in Central London. Radiographers and experts from the British Museum will spend up to four hours seeking to find out everything about the coffin and its contents. An earlier scan in London in 2004 revealed that Nesperennub was in good health at the time of his death – apart from a hole in his head.

Fiona Henderson, lead superintendent radiographer for UCH, said: 'This CT scanner was installed just two years ago, when the new hospital opened, and it provides incredibly detailed images, generating up to 6,000 pictures of the body. Up to 36 patients per day are scanned using this CT scanner but this will be the first time it has had such an old and illustrious “patient”. Nesperennub was a priest at Karnak, the religious complex near the ancient city of Thebes, where modern-day Luxor is situated. UCH staff gave the coffin a CT scan in 2004 but improved technology means a lot more can be seen now. John Taylor, a leading Egyptologist at the British Museum, said: 'Fully-wrapped Egyptian mummies still contain a lot of untapped information.'