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Finding The Cellar

The stairway leading down to the cellar, as it was being excavated, during the summer of 2005. Below is a short description of the discovery.

Continuing the dig along the line of the existing wall in a southerly direction, another wall became apparent running at right angles to the main wall, the demolition fill was very loose and comprised mainly pieces of brick and occasional fragments of Westmoreland slate from the roof, additionally large stone masonry from the facade of the old hall was to be found. About five feet below ground level the second wall revealed a course of bricks on edge forming a semi-circular arch, I peered through into the dark void, flashing my torch to see what lay beyond.

Excitedly I dug into the fill beneath the archway opening a hole sufficiently large to get through into the void . . . I slid down a short slope and found myself in a cellar.

The Cellar Arched Entrance over stairs

Archway entrance to Cellar

It was an amazing find so completely unexpected. The dank atmosphere added to the creepy feeling and I was only twelve feet or so underground.

The Cellar Arched Ceiling

Arched Roof of Cellar

I was standing in a large basement perhaps 24 by about 12 feet wide, the limestone walls and vaulted ceiling clearly showed the chisel indentations from the mason, as he had cut and dressed the stone, perhaps many hundreds of years before. A few short strands of vegetation hung limply from some of the joints in the arch, beneath, in the natural stone that formed the floor were shallow indentations by dripping water seeping through the ceiling.

At the far end of the basement was a square drain, it's lip was above the surface of the floor. Fortunately the long summer had been dry and there was no trace of water, only watermarks at the foot of the stone walls.

The Cellar Evidence of Internal Walls & Shelves

Evidence of the original walls and shelves

The room had originally been divided by internal walls, forming a series of small lobbies, six in all, each with two stone shelves. Only the impressions in the wall surface remain. The impact of the emptiness of the place beyond the reach of the torch was strangely claustrophobic. Old rusting enamelled steel bowls and ceramic pots lay scattered about. Lying in the fill was a piece of what looked like a fine porcelain cup, too dirty to discern its decoration, but clearly from a quality service.

Weimar Porcelain Cup [Germany 19th-Century?]

Weimar Porcelain Cup

I wondered if the rest of the cup was anywhere to be found. There was no sign of any other pieces of it or anything remotely similar. [Later, the other half was found in the demolition fill, glued together as above]

The Cellar

Cellar under the Small Drawing Room

Squeezing through the small opening, up the ladder and out of the excavation, I was again back in the bright light of a summer's day.

The Cellar and Stairway

Cellar under the Small Drawing Room

The Cellar Location

The entrance to the cellar lies at the corner of the remaining structure in the centre of image below, to the right of the foot of the ladder. The front section [Main Entrance Area] of the Hall was removed some years earlier than the two blocks which were removed in 1952. View Demolition Sequence

Stone Cellar Stairs

Steps uncovered leading to the Cellar

The stairs uncovered as the excavation proceeded. [Seven uncovered thus far]

Parlington Hall in the late Nineteenth century. Taken from a photograph provided
by the Garforth Historical Society.