We are very fortunate in the UK to have organisations such as English Heritage and the National Trust caring for sites of historical interest and/or natural beauty. Fifteen minutes drive from our home is The Vyne a property run by the National Trust.
The Vyne. The adjoining Tudor Chapel is just to the left of the 17th Century house.
The Vyne was a palace built in the early 1500’s by Lord William Sandys. He was Lord Chamberlain to the King and his guests included King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. By the time Chaloner Chute bought the house in 1653 it was in a poor state of repair and much too large for his needs. Much of the Tudor house was demolished (leaving the Chapel and the Oak Gallery intact) and an extensive building programme was carried out to bring the house up to modern standards. A couple of centuries later the Victorian owner, William Wiggett Chute, carried out much needed repairs on the patchwork of roofs. More information about the history and architectural significance of The Vyne here.
In 2017, after several areas of The Vyne house were damaged by water leaking in through the roof, the National Trust took the brave decision to have the whole roof renovated. A huge network of scaffolding was erected around and over the entire building.
Amazingly this was done in such a way that the public can take a lift (or 74 steps) up to walkways carefully constructed over the top of the house. Up on the walkways, under the protection of the plastic swathed scaffolding it is rather disorientating trying to remember that you standing above a three storey building.
We first took the trip to the roof top walk back in May and returned again just a few days ago. It is fascinating watching the carpenters, stonemasons and roofers using their skills to weatherproof such an historic building. I hope you’ll enjoy looking into these photos, seeing the centuries old beams, bricks and tiles that have been exposed and brought to eye-level.
As much as possible the renovations are conserving the original materials: lead taken from the roof has been melted and reformed into sheets, using similar methods to those of 500 years ago, and is being fitted back onto the roof; the slender brick chimneys that were leaning alarmingly have been dismantled and rebuilt brick by brick with the addition of metal rods fitted like skewers through the layers to keep them straight; even the centuries old wooden beams have been left in place wherever possible.
In May the roof of the Tudor Chapel was left intact to allow bats to continue using the roof space as a nursery!
By October the bats had left the Chapel roof and restoration work began in earnest. Amazing to think those beams and bricks are 500 years old!
- Tiles and bat tunnels ready to be fixed to a restored section of roof
Not all the materials could be saved: it was decided to replace all of the tiles (the replacements have been made in a similar way and of similar materials to the originals) and many crumbling coping stones have been removed and skillfully replaced by fresh ones in a more weather resistant stone. There are 21st Century innovations too: fire proof cladding and insulating materials; tunnels to encourage bats to return to their roosts; hatches to allow easier access to the roof for maintenance and a secure safety wire so in the future (when all the scaffolding has been removed) workmen on the roof can be harnessed and safe.
The work on the roof is scheduled to finish in January 2018.
Thank you for taking time to get to the end of this post. I hope you’ll forgive me an occasional post away from patchwork and quilting? 😀
And a reminder that I continue to update my Pinterest boards as a contribution to this great worldwide patchwork and quilting community – see my latest finds on the board Pins of the Week.