It's no secret. We have no bathroom.
Of the friends who plan to visit, only the most intrepid actually sign up for an overnight stay, earning themselves a Bear Grylls Fearless Traveller pin badge and certificate. Luckily there's no shortage of weather here and plenty of trees for privacy, so it's really not a problem - grab a bar of soap and hijack a passing rain shower. We're getting quite a reputation in the neighbourhood*.
So there are plans afoot for turning one of our many toilets into a bathroom. The room we've earmarked is on the top floor, and after some research at the West Yorkshire Archive Service, it becomes clear that what we'll actually be doing is returning that corner of the house to its original use - well almost original.
According to Edgar Wood's plans from 1894, only a small portion of the attic space was destined to be used as living quarters (I'd imagine this was for servants, as there were 5 bedrooms on the first floor and no children at this stage). However, Herbert Higginson Sykes was clearly not a man for resting on his laurels since no less than 9 additional developments were made to the house and grounds up until it was sold on at the beginning of the 1920s.
In 1904, plans were drawn up by local architect, Willie Cooper, to extend the living spaces on the first floor and in the attic - and lo and behold, our bathroom was born.
So, with history's blessing, we set about doing what work we can to prepare the room for a refit. Yellow has never been a colour we've gravitated towards when it comes to decorating but, having worked in plenty of hospitals in my time, I'm used to seeing it along with pastel green and lilac on many an institutional wall. Briarcourt is no different, and this room is a study in custard.
However, the tiles catch our eye, and although 'metro' tiles have become trendy in recent years, we wonder if they could be original. As with much of the top floor, the walls are clad in horizontal bands of painted lining paper and there are one or two dog-ears ripe for lifting. Without steaming, the paper tears off in small unsatisfying patches.
We've grown used to exposing modern plaster or very ordinary paint layers beneath the wallpaper so far; and sure enough, plaster peeps through - that and standard issue pale mint social services paint. But there's something else. Where the paint flakes back, there are lines, and what's more the lines seem to join together to form shapes......
....no, a pattern.....
....no, different patterns
With careful, tortoise-speed scraping we come to reveal snippets of 3 different wallpaper designs.
The excavations continue.
*OK, this isn't all strictly true. We have a perfectly functional temporary shower cubicle - it suits us fine but it's not to everyone's tastes...think 'decontamination zone'.