Elsdon Tower Interior : The First Floor
At first floor level a square-headed opening, with a narrow chamfer to jambs and head, cut in the curve of the wall of the stair well, opens from the stair into a slab-roofed lobby stepping up westwards to where further steps lead up south through a segmental-headed plaster arch, apparently of post-medieval date, into the first floor.
On the west of the lobby was a small closet formed within the thickness of the wall. In 1995 a blocked doorway was re-opened between the western of the two first-floor rooms and this closet was re-opened. This has a two-centred arch moulded with a continuous swelled chamfer, an architectural feature of earlier character than anything else in the building. Two of its voussoirs have been cut into at some time, to insert a timber lintel, but the dressings are otherwise intact.
The doorway faces into the room; the rear (north) side of its opening is rebated for a door, and a stub of a hinge was found low on the western jamb. There was also a stub of cut-back walling on the east of the door, indicating that it bore no relationship to the present stair and lobby. One puzzle is that there is not enough room for the door to open fully in the closet - a modern hole in the external wall shows no evidence of internal thickening or re-facing.
The first floor of the tower is now divided by secondary partitions (perhaps of early 19th-century date) into two major rooms, and a small entrance lobby with a relatively recent bathroom opening eastward off it. In the eastern room a walk-in cupboard on the south has clearly been a garderobe at one time, although no old features survive other than the head of the chute, recently exposed in the floor.
A 1957 account (County Ancient Monuments and Sites Record) refers to mural steps leading downwards to the basement from this cupboard, but is probably in error. In the east wall plaster removal in 1995 exposed remains of two fireplaces, the earlier with a segmental arch carrying a narrow chamfer, broken into by the lintel of a later and smaller successor of 18th or 19th century date. The original fireplace was restored in1995, new north jambs and northern half of the lintel being constructed, modelled from the extant section. The back of the hearth is segmental in plan, the total depth of the recess being 1 m.
To the north of these was the rear arch of the original first-floor window visible externally, with a shallow four-centred head. This rear arch has dressed stonework to the upper section of its jambs, but from c 1.5 m above the floor their lower sections are cut in rubble, indicative of the recess being extended downwards, and breaking through into the side of the high-set basement window..
The whole north wall of the room was stripped of plaster in 1995, exposing the internal projection of the stair turret; there was no sign of any earlier doorway here, except for an area of rougher rubble masonry in the centre of the lower part of the wall, which might have resulted from an opening being removed, dressings and all. The fact that the corbels which carry the ceiling beams are of timber on this side of the room might point to this wall, or wall-face, being a reconstruction, although its upper part does appear to course in with, and be of similar material to, the adjacent part of the east wall. There are four stone corbels on the south.
The western room at this level has a plaster frieze with alternating Percy crests (the five fusils and the crescent), with further Percy arms (the three lucies and the rampant lion) on the sloping panels provided by boxed-in corbels on the north and south. There is a 19th-century Gothick fireplace on the west wall, and a simple ogee-arched canopy, in plaster, over the doorway that gives access to a flight of steps dropping through the wall to communicate with the stair hall in the north wing.
Above this stair the internal splay of an original window was exposed in 1995; this shows similar features to that of the window in the east wall. The opening taking this stair was enlarged, exposing in its base the top of an infilled vertical flue or channel, of slightly trapezoidal plan, exactly like that seen above the inserted doorway in the south wall, and placed opposite to it.
Unfortunately the insertion of the stair, probably in the 19th century, had destroyed any evidence for the relationship between this shaft and the window above. Overhanging rubble showed that the shaft could not have continued vertically upward for any distance; it may have inclined westwards.