RESTORATION WORK UNVEILED AT LINCOLNSHIRE'S LARGEST THATCHED HOUSE
Local people and heritage enthusiasts gathered in Alford, Lincolnshire
on 2005 September 30 to watch the grand unveiling of the latest stage
of improvements to the county's largest thatched house, Alford Manor House.
The 17th century, grade II listed house has been hidden in a shroud of
scaffolding and protective sheeting for over eight months, whilst a £1.7m
restoration scheme, largely funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund with support
from several groups including English Heritage and the European Regional
Development Fund, has been underway to protect and improve the town's
most important historic building.
The 'topping-out' ceremony marks the completion of one of the most important
stages of the project, work on the thatched roof, which has involved the
hard work of teams of many skilled thatchers, consultants and architects
specialising in historic buildings.
Prior to the work beginning on the house, its owners, Alford and District
Civic Trust, ran it as a museum. Once the project is complete it will
be brought back into community use as a museum again, this time focussing
more on the history of the building and its construction.
the project began in November 2004, a new extension has been built, the
roof has been stripped of all old reed thatch, which was put on in late
1960s, and the timber roof structures and chimneys have been repaired.
Because of the building's unusual composite construction it has had structural
problems since it was first built, so the main part of the work has been
to carry out long-term repairs that will deal with these difficulties.
Other work has included the full re-pointing of all brickwork, repairs
of historic joinery and internal floor structures, the installation of
a new lift to make the building more accessible to the public and improved
The project is planned for completion in November 2005 and remaining work
includes internal finishing, decoration and the installation of rainwater
goods, drainage and plumbing.
Allan, Chairman of Alford Civic Trust, is really excited about how the
project is progressing. He said: "Before
the main work started we had an opening up contract to understand the
building and its problems, which has worked very well. At that stage we
also had an archaeological team from Field Archaeology Specialists, based
at York University, to record and pontificate on the age of the building,
its construction and plan form.
"Dendrochronological dating has shown that the main building was
constructed around 1611, however it was altered later in the 17th century
and parts of it were rebuilt during the 18th and 19th centuries. This
research has formed the structure of how this restoration project has
been carried out and it is wonderful to expose this magnificent thatched
roof once again."
James Edgar, English Heritage Historic Buildings Inspector, said: "Alford
Manor House is Lincolnshire's largest thatched manor house. It is a very
important historic building both locally and nationally and is in the
top 6-8% of historic buildings in the country. This project underlines
the importance of the skills of specialist craftsmen, as without them
this building could not be protected for future generations to enjoy.
We look forward to seeing this building back in use by the community once
Heritage Lottery Fund made the project possible with a grant of £1.3
million. Explaining the importance of the award HLF's regional manager
Sheila Stone said, "We are delighted to
restore this historic landmark and open it up for the community. As will
as conserving an important heritage asset in Lincolnshire, the project
will give the public much better access to the building and give them
the opportunity to learn about its colourful history."