The Mingary Castle restoration blog was written by Jon Haylett, who lives in the local village of Kilchoan. Now that restoration is almost complete Holly and Chris Bull will take over to report on bringing the Castle back to life.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Crewel Work

The fine weather seems to go on and on, much to the delight of the builders. It isn't only that it makes their work much easier, it lifts the spirits, so there was a very cheerful atmosphere on site when I arrived this morning.

Having two skilled joiners around is resulting in some beautiful woodwork. These rugged steps, built and fitted by Martin Chandler, are perfect for linking the steep stone steps that lead up to the battlements to the flagged courtyard.

Martin has other skills as well. His brother Mark made all the lead gutters and downpipes, so Martin took on the job of fixing the gutter along the front of the breakfast room after the windows had been fitted. Lead guttering is heavy stuff, so.... had to be supported by an oak block mould.

Several of the rooms are nearing completion, of which the breakfast room is one. All the woodwork, including the skirting and round the doors, is now very neat. This picture looks towards the south side of the room, with the door leading down to the utility room on the right and the door to what was the garderobe at the left.

Looking the opposite way, the stone door which was cut into the north range is now complete, with wood framing the stone.

The bannisters have been fitted by a subcontractor but await several parts from the manufacturer. While the woodwork is going to be one of the features of the building, another....

 ...will undoubtedly be the crewel work panels which line the walls of the two bedrooms on the second floor. Today their manufacturer, Sandra Jeffrey, was on site to see their fitting.

The material is made in Bangladesh but has been delayed due to severe flooding at the end of last year.

The relief is made from chain stitching, then this is tacked onto a backcloth which has the pattern printed onto it. This detailed work is done by women, and Sandra says that each has her own style, so that on some of the work she can tell them apart.

The crewel work arrives at the castle and is fitted on to large panels cut to size, the top and bottom of which joiner Martin Theaker slots in behind the panelling. The panels then have to be invisibly fixed to the wall so the joins aren't visible, but they've yet to work out exactly how they're going to do this. Then the wooden frames for light switches, each individually made by Martin, have to be fitted round the switch plates.

Sandra is a specialist in a number of different skills as well as the crewel work. She can be contacted at and Martin at

My last stop of the day was the battlements, from which the evolving ornamental gardens can be seen. The arch and paved walkways are now complete, and the plinth at the centre how has its occupant.... Ardnamurchan eagle.

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