Back in England I had been involved in the conservation of old buildings for twenty-five years, working for the Eve Baker Trust and my own company, Nimbus Conservation, which was involved in work on the Tower of London, Windsor Castle, and Wells Cathedral, amongst others. So when I saw this house I regarded it as an extension of my conservation work, but this time working on my own building.
When we bought the house it was in a sorry state, and needed urgent structural repair. We discovered that the walls looking towards the viaduct had dropped by eight to ten centimetres, so we had to do some underpinning. Then there was the repointing - in a lime mortar, leaving as much as possible of the original mortar, which contained crushed brick - similar to the mortar used by the Romans.
Little of the original interior of the building was visible. It had been divided into two apartments covered in pine tongue-and-groove, with the beams and staircase painted a chocolate brown.
The main building dates from the fifteenth century - the lower walls even earlier - and incorporates one wall that was part of the city defences, possibly having been built by the British, as it was the famous son of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II - Richard Coeur de Lion - who used to control this area.
We discovered a mediaeval sink and fire-surround in the kitchen, and a fifteenth-century fireplace in the sitting room.
The house was modernised in the seventeenth century, when the staircase was added, the main bedroom was panelled, the sitting room was enlarged, and a round window was added in the stairwell.
The house would originally have had a spiral staircase and might possibly have been two houses.
I wrote an article at the end of 2008 on the renovation of the house which was published in the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) magazine - Cornerstone.