It is a fully functioning chimney, It has it's own chimney pot, only about 10' above the opening, currently inhabited by a family of jackdaws. The left of the chimney breast accommodates the chimney from our wood-burner downstairs
The brick work is solid, but rough. Most of the mortar appears to be lime but some of in has been re-pointed with cement in the past - I hazard a guess at the 1950s though I have no way of knowing, some of the cement mortar has straw in it which seems obscure, I'm not sure why it would have been added, perhaps it was just incidental.
Though our home dates form roughly 1750s, the bricks come from roughly the 1870s as we have lots from elsewhere in the house which we were able to identify. I suspect that at this time the landowner upgraded the houses in the village, from what would have been more like barns to something resembling workers' cottages - though flushing toilets were not installed until the late 1970s - I KNOW!! THE 70s!!!
Some of the mortar is very rough, and not suitable for a feature wall. But lime is a beautiful, tactile material which can work wonders.
My method is to 'splat' the lime plaster (finishing stuff) onto the areas of the wall needing particular attention, I would throw it on, as is the standard method known as 'harling' But I don't want to make a mess.
Once I have dotted and dabbed the wall, a small section at a time, I use my big lime brush to work the plaster, back and forth, then in a figure 8 until the wall is suitably covered.
And here is the first coat completed!
The tar from the chimney is seeping through... bare in mind that the chimney is around 140 years old. Although we now have the main chimney lined, and this one isn't used, that's still a heck of a lot of coal tar deposits in there.
I had begun with sealing the problem areas of the chimney with a PVA sealer (first coat was 3:1 Water to PVA, second coat was 1:1) Which would have been fine if all we were sealing was a little bit of dust, but clearly this was not good enough and we are going to need something more.
By the next morning it was even worse.
There are a couple of things we can do to solve this problem, so do not worry, but I do wish it hadn't been a problem in the first place.