Victorian Lintels


I am working on a Victorian 1880 terraced house 2 up 2 down plus basement.
The outside has been heavily rendered and I am not sure if that was to straighten things up or to disguise / hide things.
I am fitting the lower room as a kitchen and need to provide ducting from an internal back wall where the cooker will be to an outside vent which will exit immediately over a small replacement window approx 3 ft wide. The ducting is to be slid through the vent site between the plaster ceiling board and the upstairs floor borads because luckily the joists run along from window to back wall.
I started to remove the rendering, which seemed quite thick, and discovered a line of bricks laid on end. I expected to see some sort of lintel. These bricks must be the lintel in some way unless they " finish " the wall at this point and the builders rely upon the window frame as a support. Is that posssible? The bricks on end are not well mortared in and as the line goes to the right they are not vertical, and almost loose. I wonder if movement took place when the window was replaced and the heavy rendering was used to bind it all together. Is it safe?
Apart from the horrors that could befall us from the above I need to know if it is safe to drill and chop a hole through the top half of two of these bricks where they join the wall to make access for the ducting and venting fixture.Its a solid wall, no cavity, would I expect to find a lintel on the internal part of the wall??
The ducting is fairly vital as there is no natural ventilation apart from the window and as the ceiling is lower than normal a filter system would be fairly useless. Any thoughts advice most welcome.
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Typically, the lintel is a brick arch on the outer skin and a piece of timber on the inner skin. A course or two above will have headers (bricks length-wise through the wall) to keep the two skins well tied together at this point. This would be inherent in flemish bond anyway, but in flemish garden wall bond (which is nothing to do with garden walls), there are fewer headers and some extras may be deliberately positioned in this area.
It's not a good idea to damage the structure of the arch, particularly if the mortar isn't in a good state to start with. The arch might drop out.
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Andrew Gabriel
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Thank you Andrew for the info. We have found wood used in internal walls so that would make sense. If it ever was an arch it had very little shape to it unless the window guys altered it somehow. Is there any form of preformed lintel you can get to add support to it as soon the window will need replacing and that alone may cause damage.
Tks

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It could have been a flat arch, e.g.
http://www.brickcutting.net/hbc/images/flatarch.gif

Pre-stressed concrete lintels are a standard building item, available in all sorts of lengths and thicknesses from any builders yard.
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Andrew Gabriel
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