Alford Lincolnshire UK
famous for the Alford Craft Market and Manor House
Alford Manor House Report: 2005 September 30


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 flag raisedSince 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 toilet facilities.

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.

Grant AllanGrant 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 again."

topping outThe 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."

Manor House Restoration Progress reports

next: 2005 November: work would be completed within the contract period
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For many years the Craft Market has held special weekends - Spring and August Bank Holiday in the Manor House grounds. In 2005 the Market and entertainment was in the South Market Place.