Thursday, 29 September 2011

The Roof Goes On!

I never thought I would get excited about a crane (at least not of the non-feathered variety) but this week the temporary roof was lifted on to the top of Ashdown House and it was a very impressive and exciting sight. The roof was designed to a special architect's plan and the two halves were lifted on separately and then the middle section was constructed over the top of the cupola. It was originally suggested that the cupola might be lifted off the top to enable conservation work but this is now going to take place on the roof with the cupola slightly raised to allow the work to be done. Work on the cupola is going to be very interesting; the copper panels on the sides will be replaced with lead ones to reflect the nature of the original building and the finial on the top will be re-gilded - and the bullets still lodged in it dug out! These date from the time the golden ball was used for target practice during the 2nd World War when US, Canadian and British troops were stationed at Ashdown. There will be updates here about the cupola conservation and maybe even some photos of the bullets!

Now that the roof is in place work can begin on removing the Cotswold slate, repairing those slates than can be re-used and replacing those that are too damaged. The flat roof will also be removed and re-leaded and the balustrade renewed. A large "jacket" will be put over the entire structure of the scaffolding to protect the ongoing conservation work from the weather. This will be thicker at the top and will hide the whole house, though when the National Trust "season" starts up again in April, hard hat tours of the exterior of the building will be available to show people the progress of the project. Exciting! (Unless you don't like heights in which case there will be an exhibition in the Information Centre.) In a short while the original quarry will be opened and chalk extracted to repair the external walls of the house. There's a lot going on!

The house closed yesterday and the portrait collection is being removed today. Whilst the renovation work is in progress the portraits will also be receiving some conservation care and again this will be reported here on the blog. During October the Information Centre remains open with a short presentation and garden tour on offer to update visitors on the project and show some of the aspects of the Ashdown Estate that don't normally get mentioned. So far the conservation project has proved very popular with visitors and we look forward to welcoming you to Ashdown and showing you what is going on!

There are more photographs of the ongoing renovation project here.


lostpastremembered said...

OH nicola, that is such an amazing photo... remarkable what goes into saving a 400 year old house, isn't it? Thanks for sharing... usually such things are dull as dishwater... this is really like a work of art.

Louisa Cornell said...

Terrific photo, Nicola! I am so thrilled about the renovations of this lovely old house!