No Bun In the Bread Oven – Part 1

Every Good Grande Maison in France has to have it’s own Bread Oven. Our house was no exception, however our oven or ‘four à pain’ had not been used for countless decades. There was no sign of an oven door and the roof was on the brink of collapse.

Woodworm had taken hold of all of the beams and there was virtually no render left between the stones. On the outside there was a small access window into what seemed like a small attic area. It was full of wooden soled shoes and bottles from around 1910 to 1920.

On the inside of the house any signs of a oven door had been cemented over and tiled in the early 1970’s. Chiseling off the cement was time consuming, as the cement seemed stronger than the surrounding wall.

When we first viewed the house, there was 30 years of detritus rotting away inside. All the contents, the cupboards, the overhead shroud and even the tiles on the wall had to be removed. The sink only had a cold water spring water feed and the drain simply led through a hole in the wall into the grass outside.

What did we find under the tiles?

The tiles weren’t attached to the wall with regular tile adhesive. After the war, cement was practically given away to help stimulate building regeneration. People used it for everything. In this case it was used as wall plaster and tile cement. Obviously, the tiles did not come off easily. We could not use power tools as that simply shattered the lime rendered stone wall beneath. The stone wall was rendered in a traditional method of 3 parts sand and 1 part sand. Using a impact drill on this to remove tiles simply caused large sections of wall to fall. Therefore the tiles were remove tiny shard at a time.

We found small traces of a bricked up opening about knee height and a wooden mantel about elbow height. The mantel was rotten. The bricks didn’t look professionally made; without square corners and crumbling edges.

We found a chimney that had had some make shift adaptions over the years. Inside of which we countless owl and rodent skeletons. It looked like it had numerous nests for many years.

So why was this Bread Oven so important?

Currently, our only toilet is 1.5m squared and of plasterboard construction part blocking our kitchen window. This cramped and claustrophobic room was probably built in the 1950’s and needed to come down as soon as possible. The Bread Oven; if we could clear in out; would be nearly 6 times as large.

What Did We Find Whilst Digging Out the Oven?

The oven hadn’t been cleared in over a century. What were we going to find?
Watch us remove the roof and start digging. Layer by layer…..
Watch the video.

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