Great Hall – part the second

I’ve already teased about building a further extension to the existing Great Hall and here it is.  Its various stages have taken a great deal of thought and I’ve probably spent more time not doing it than doing it.  The planning needed to be shaken down in my mind at each stage and methods needed trying out.

What is it?

It’s fairly square (12.5”x12.5”) and will be split into a large high ceilinged space downstairs (10.25” high) and a low ceilinged room above (5”-7” high).  Access to upper floor being via a spiral staircase with a distinct lack of headroom at least at one point (something around 4″!).


Mostly patterned tiles based on various church images and reconstructions of tiles from the period 1450-1600.  Painting them was fairly straightforward as was the high gloss varnish finish but it was all too overpowering and a little sickly in colour range.  It needed to look warmer.  I mixed a small amount of furniture stain with a little of the varnish and after two coats achieved a colour I preferred.  It’s actually a darker toffee colour than appears in any image I can get.

Pale, cold and sickly - showing York stone at fireplace end

Darker, warmer and still sickly - gloss still wet in this pic

The red and black small tiles were probably a bad idea.  Should have gone with one or the other.

The rest of the floor area is more York stone slabs at the fireplace end.


For a break from all the plaster and beam look, I went for stone, or at least the appearance of stone.  I wanted to play with one of those big stencils and grout type mix that you use with them.  I still don’t know why I chose the grey when there was a sandstone finish but I did.  The only problem I had with the stencil was the stickiness of the spray for holding it in place.

  • The paper or whatever you put under when spraying the sticky became a major hazard to anything within its vicinity.
  • With it being a large stencil it was a little awkward to handle in a fairly confined space
  • You had to be very careful how and where you put it down when you took it off the item just done.

I used different undercoat shades as primer and background on Gator board – sheets approx 12”x16-18”, a sandwich of a thin layer of foam between two sheets of card/wood.  The surface has a slightly shiny finish and is water-resistant and cuts like mountboard.  It’s a bit like display board (the fairly lightweight stuff for pinning up exhibitions).  The gator board has a much harder surface – wood like.  I believe it is used for photo mounts as it doesn’t warp easily.  The few UK stockists I could find no longer carried it, so I ordered from the States.  I bought it in to restock the building supply as had used up nearly all the mdf from the room boxes in order to build the model thus far, and needed something light, strong and easy to handle to continue building.  (Description of types of board)

I needn’t have worried about the background/primer colour as all the walls got different paint and chalk treatments to get the range of colours of stone and infill.  (see Paint them walls 2)

Tower for spiral stairs - stone effect done and windows in - external

Tower for spiral stairs - stone effect done and windows in - internal


I planned three stained glass windows for the main body of the Hall extension.  I bought acetate sheets to make them as we now had a colour printer.  The window frame used was an Angela Downton creation.  I tried many suitably scaled window designs but all I got was very small splashes of colour that didn’t give much of an over all ‘look’ of stained glass and that you needed a magnifier to see.  After playing around I went for quite large images of medieval figures (thinking of them as our local worthies commemorated in glass).  There were two benefits from this.  Colour stood out as it was in larger areas.  They provided faces at the window, making the place look inhabited, busy and friendly.

There was one down side.  With larger colour areas, whole faces didn’t fit as well in the windows.  I vandalised amd’s windows –they were double panel laser cuts with a wide central divider and a narrower divider to each side panel.  I took out the two side panel dividers giving a wider area to frame the faces.

Two of the stained glass confections in place

Window surrounds

Outer shaped stone surround:  made by playing ‘mucky mountains’ with the stonework mix around the cut out window space and shaping them as they dried.

Inner lightly carved stone surround:  looked for doilies but the modern ones don’t have the detailed cut outs they used to so no joy there.  Was going to tat or crochet lengths when I came across metal tracery strips with flower shapes on eBay.  Cut up for sides and top, stuck down with wood filler and painted over with stone colouring.  This fills in some of the delicate patterning but still enough left to give a carved tracery.

Outer built up from drying stone mix

Bedding the filigree edging down on wood filler

Outer view of two windows in situ

Inner metal strip painted

Spiral stair

Bought this ready-made and it had a lovely pale grey rough stone finish.  Hadn’t measured it but now realise that it provides very little head clearance for little 1/12th scale folk.  And I’ve made it worse at one point by adding a stone platform at the top for a brief flight of straight stairs to be added.

The main problems were:

  • Didn’t want it to remain grey
  • It couldn’t stay entirely rounded as the tower was a bit of a thrupenny bit shape

The colouring was solved by using suitably coloured chalk pastels and a very weak solution of Mod Podge matt glue (though any white PVA type glue probably would have done – I just didn’t want any shine added).  It achieved a passable sandstone colouring.

Interchangeable use of a small hack saw and a strong art knife took off the necessary corners.  Any gaps still there when fitted into the tower were filled with the every present white wood filler painted over when dry to match the stairs and with a little of the dirt that would collect in such corners added for fun.  For some unknown reason I decided that some slabs of sandstone should be placed at the top of the spiral stairway for folk to sit or kneel on at the two top, unglazed, small windows.

Grandiose ideas getting grander

Under the stairs - poss keep the odd sword here?

Foot of the stairs

Long view from house entrance hallway

Over lit stairs showing how yellow they are now

Spiral stairs in relation to tiled floor

Fireplace(see Another day another fireplace)

Why build it?

I’d always envisaged the building as connected to some mighty Guild so it would need a grand Great Hall.  The original one was built as double the height and length of any of the other rooms in the model but still felt that not enough could go on in it.  What it needed was room enough for a raised extension for a top table platform with formal chair and guild treasures on dispaly, banners etc – possibly a corner where we can shove a bit of fighting gear like sword, pike etc, with the odd table at the lower (in the original Hall) level for the less socially lofty, plus settles, stools etc round the earlier built fireplace. (see Great Hall 3 – Fireplace)

Think dining room scenes from any Harry Potter movie (or any of the older Oxbridge college dining halls) with a high table and the rest of the diners sitting at a lower level at right angles to the top, then throw in a few areas for sitting and relaxing with the dogs by the fire.

Where are we up to?

Just completing putting in the third window and need to build the fire back area, fire and chimney behind.  There are edges to smarten up and seal off too and all the walls need connecting finally to each other rather than just the floor.

The fireplace has two of the eight pillars that should be put in, so there’s still six to go and the spiral staircase needs sorting further, with a possible outer rail or screen covering the open edge that looks down on the Hall.  Lighting needs adding and the ceiling needs building and decorating from scratch.

Then there’s the upper room with the low ceiling to tackle.  I have pretty clear ideas about this but it’s going to take quite a bit of thinking through before I take knife to board, that’s for sure.


2 responses »

  1. Pingback: This is not the Tower we’re looking for « theinfill

  2. Pingback: Waiting for things to set – Arnolfini Bedroom Mirror « theinfill

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