The Zimapanners

 

 

 

 

                                                

 

Renovation Work 
 
1979-1982 
 

Dimensions
The front, oblong section of the house with an off-centre door, was least 70 foot wide.

Front door
Pete Prentice had someone build a very large central front door in the 1980s. "He thought it would make the house look more impressive, but it was definitely not original".1

Downstairs front rooms
All the front downstairs rooms had shutters which Pete had dipped and repainted. 

Chandelier hung from hallway ceiling
Pam considered the large hallway to be "the most impressive space in the house". A chandelier hung from the ceiling. The inner door contained glass panels and was fitted with a huge lock and key. There were two doors in the (outer) hall; one on the left that led to the drawing room (Brian See's room), and one on the right which led to an inner hall. Beyond those doors was a "really beautiful, decorative archway".

Skylight installed above porch
Pete Prentice installed a skylight above the porch (hallway). This was almost certainly necessary because the amount of light entering the hallway had been significantly reduced after having removed the original, 12-paned central sash window in the porch and replaced it with a new central front door.

The floors
Pete would put mouse traps under the floorboards. The void under the boards was huge, so it was easy for him to get down there. All the floors throughout the house were wooden, with the exception of an odd piece of carpet here and there. However, the lean-to, which became the kitchen, had a mosaic-tiled floor. "It wasn't very nice and it was horrible to clean".

Walls
The hallway was wallpapered in a "very expensive, dark-red, velvety (flock) wallpaper". The whole house was wallpapered in the same way. There was a different colour flock wallpaper hung in every room.  
 
Secret door
On the back wall, there was a door to the kitchen/dining room, and to the right beyond the arch, there was a door to the right that led to an inner hall where the stairs were (see floor plan). Because it looked odd, and because there were so many doors inside the large hallway, Pete decided to remove one of the doors, and put in a "wallpaper-covered secret door" (concealed) that led to the back part of the house.

Bathrooms
There were two bathrooms downstairs, but not that impressive.

New kitchen installed
Pam and Pete often used the back kitchen/dining room which opened onto the side and the back lounge, which was quite large. To one side of this room was the original kitchen, which Pam remembers was "quite grotty, so we never went in there". Her husband also installed a second-hand kitchen (see floor plan). "Pete was very talented at his trade; he'd worked on film sets as a painter, and so always had good ideas".

Gold band found in old kitchen
Pam remembers that Pete once found a ring behind the washing machine in the (original) dilapidated kitchen at the back of the house. They believed that the ring had probably belonged to the Countess De L'Arbre, who they heard had lived in the house before them. "It was just an ordinary gold band with a red stone and a few diamonds; no markings or dates", and so they could not be sure about ownership. Pam says she would have kept the ring if she thought it had been worth anything. She eventually sold the ring as part of a job lot that included "other gold trinkets", but didn't get much for it.

Bedrooms
There were steps in the middle of the house that led up to two bedrooms. Another flight of stairs led up to a fairly large loft space. No carpets had been laid, so all the boards were bare.

Extension over back kitchen
Pete and another man built the bedroom extension over the original, "horrible kitchen", but it was never finished. The extension was at the rear of

Cornish stone
Pam Prentice is not certain what materials were originally used to build Zimapan. "It definitely wasn't brick, but I'm not sure what materials were used because all the walls were rendered, so it was difficult to tell". Pam recalled that the back of the house was built using Cornish stone.

Slate roof
As far as Pam can remember, her husband Pete did not make any alterations or improvements to the main Delabole slate roof, or to the eaves, guttering or chimneys. However, Pam says, Pete would have put a slate roof on the kitchen roof (the former lean-to).the house, so no planning permission was sought. "Fortunately, they got away with it before the building was listed".

The Count and Countess De L'Arbre
The Prentices had heard about the previous owners of Zimapan, but had never met the "Count or Countess De L'Arbre", as they were referred to by Brian See. They had heard from locals that the De L'Arbres were "a bit mad", and that they had been banished to the UK because they were "an embarrassment to the Belgians". The Prentices do not recall what became of the De L'Arbres after they sold the property to Brian See, but assumed that the couple had either "gone into a home or died".


Recollections of Pam Prentice, 2009. 

Footnote
1. There were originally two side doors to Zimapan, built on either side of the big porch.