There are no “Frogs”

The North wall of the church was sinking in TW Lonfields time. There were no foundations to the local churches. Mr. Plewis uncovered an inch-deep black layer beneath the base of the walls, made of rotten flora over the centuries. Mr. Plewis’s father said that it was the growth in the topsoil which had held such a building together, and it should be left undisturbed. The wall are four feet thick, with inner and outer stone facing, the middle filled up with lime rubble, and here and there jointed up. Mr Plewis undertook the job of underpinning the North wall. The foundations given to it were six foot slabs of stone long ways.

There are no frogs (indents) in the bricks buttressing the tower, which dates them to some extent. There was a brick field at Dalham before Mr. Plewis’s time. Brickfield Cottages were opposite the brickworks, built of black tarred bricks. (The road from Cliffe to Strood passed through smoking brickfields, especially at the back of Bingham Road)

Lime mortar joints were used on the tower brickwork. Lime is live matter – cement is dead; lime mortar lasts longer, absorbs atmosphere, and is stronger than cement; in the war, the lime mortar with stood the shocks.

On Saturday a groom with a horse and cart would go to Higham Lime works for half a ton of hot (or live) lime in rock form. It was immersed in water (eggs could be boiled in it in no time) and was then left for a week, water being added as necessary. Then an old Larry (a big handled hoe) was used to maker a ton of mortar. This was left for a fortnight before used. Its consistency was like butter.

February 2011

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