The Guild's Hon. Architect

Simon Hurst

During these strange times I have tried to carry on with work as much as possible, and this includes work for The Guild. Before Lockdown we had already commissioned two new bookcases for the library and they were all complete, painted and ready to install when ‘Social Distancing’ kicked in, making the two-person job of transportation and installation very hard. However, redecorating the room is a one-person job so I have overseen that, and the Library now is completely redecorated, with wiring in place for new light sconces on the existing and the new bookcases. The joinery company is now looking at ways to install the bookcases safely, complying with the regulations; this could perhaps happen in late June. Then there will be the task of restacking all the shelves completely, in some logical order; no small undertaking, but now we have extra time on our hands we have the ideal opportunity.

Current view of the redecorated library

I have been popping in a couple of times a month to check on works and see Elspeth from a safe distance. She seems to be relishing touching up chipped paintwork room-by-room with the pots of paint I dug out for her. She kindly gave me a pot of her Strawberry and Pepper jam which I can confirm is now perfected; she has been honing the recipe each time I go in it seems and it has now reached perfection!

Elspeth’s Strawberry and Pepper Jam, on clotted cream on scones
(the Devon way)

Other loose ends include new cast iron handrails which are made and ready to install each side of the front steps. These integrate with the front lanterns and will I am sure be installed this summer. The very dark blueish-black paint on the front railings was formulated on site so we didn’t have a way of replicating it for the handrails, but Brother Patrick Baty very kindly and generously has created a recipe for future mixing of matching paint and donated a large pot for our current needs.

Detail of the wooden pattern for sand casting the new cast iron handrails.

Let’s hope that we can all meet back at 6 Queen Square in the not too distant future. When we can, it will be smarter than it has ever been before!

Meanwhile, at home, I have been doing a lot more gardening than normal, started growing vegetables and more herbs, and doing little jobs that I never before seemed to find time for.

View of the garden, now more tamed and less jungly.

I made new oak slats for my garden bench; redecorated my bathroom with a silver painted ceiling and aubergine walls; rewired my shed; sorted out my bookshelves; tidied my workshop and even started organising my spanners in size order: metric and imperial!


Renovated bench with new Oak seat 

 The jazzed up bathroom.

I have made arm rests for my conservatory’s hand-made sofa, display shelves for my Victorian bottle collection, and I am gearing up to practice painting faux Malachite for the top of a chest of drawers.

Workshop: tidying in progress.

I have an ever-growing list of creative ideas to explore so am finding the slower pace of life quite liberating and therapeutic. It has actually been good for my mental health; I have never felt so calm and able to sit and think. Obviously it will be good to get back to ‘normal’ but I think it will be a chance to re-think the life/work balance and come out at the other end with a new found optimism and appreciation of how valuable life is.

New arm rests to the hand-made sofa in the Conservatory.

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