Unfortunately the smell in the hearth could not be remediated by scrubbing with solution alone so it had to come up...
and so did the one beneath that.....
and then the 3" of dirt...
and the inch or so of brick rubble....
revealing horizontal short boards spanning the subfloor and footings.
The dirt and rubble were of course extra fireproofing beneath the hearth.
What lies beneath though is fascinating!
Bluestone footings and pristine red convict bricks.
an amazing brick "tunnel" that stretches from just below the original sandstone slab hearth beneath the sceondary modern cement within the open fire place, right through to the opposite corner in the house where an iron vent sits in the footings.
As the fire burns and the chimney draws, warm air rises and I imagine air is also pulled through this tunnel creating a very deliberate cross ventilation so vital for healthy houses. Not only would this be a benefit to the fire burn but it creates air current beneath the house keeping it dry and stable.
Even chimneys and staircases are specific design elements for healthy house ventilation. When restoring or modifying old houses it is vital to ensure these functions remain. Even blocking chimneys can have a knock on detrimental effect to house health.
This house has stood for nearly 200 years and is in excellent shape structurally.
All the convict bricks I have ever seen are a bit chalky and rounded through wear and tear, worn smooth but I was so shocked to see these bricks in a condition that looked like new modern ones. Loving the bones of this Georgian cottage.