Episode 1: Halswell Park

Episode 1: Halswell Park

The first instalment in the Halswell Park documentary series.

Through interviews with art and architecture historian Roy Bolton, conservation director Mark Lidster and project architect Claire Fear, we delve into the history and legacy of historic Halswell House, how it came into the hands of current owner Edward Strachan and his vision of restoring the manor to its former glory as a true British landmark.

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The re-roofing of the Tudor Manor

And the removal of twenty-first-century dormer windows

The roof structures of the old manor complex at Halswell date from the many different phases of building. Roofing evidence from before the Tudor period has not yet been identified; we know there has been a manor here since at least Domesday times but the roof structures have not necessarily survived as well as the stone. From the early and late Tudor periods respectively we have the Great Hall building to the east, the south range and the two sides of the inner courtyard. It is this area of the roofing structures and their associated wood and stone repairs where this current phase of restorations focusses.

The roof plans of Halswell, courtesy of Claire Fear of Architectural Thread Ltd. The areas highlighted in red correspond to the Tudor Great Hall, which takes up the northern half of the east range, the 1590’s south range and the three gabled additions to the Great Hall in the east of the courtyard.

The roof plans of Halswell, courtesy of Claire Fear of Architectural Thread Ltd. The areas highlighted in red correspond to the Tudor Great Hall, which takes up the northern half of the east range, the 1590’s south range and the three gabled additions to the Great Hall in the east of the courtyard.

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Revealing the historic Manor House at Halswell (part 1)

Restoration of the south façade.

The south range photographed in c. 1898.

The south façade photographed in c.1898.

The areas highlighted in red date from the 1590’s improvements to the old manor. The blue outlined addition to the right was probably added by the architect Francis Cartwright of Blandford in 1754, and includes a classical mid-eighteenth-century room with a high ceiling and florally decorated plaster cornice. Originally built with Georgian sash windows, this corner addition was transformed shortly before 1908, when Tudor-style gables were added to the south and east corners (see third image) and the Georgian windows on the east side were removed and replaced with sixteenth-century style stone mullions. A gabled loft space with window was also added to the east; externally this has the appearance of an extra full floor but was never in fact converted for habitable use. The green highlighted buildings to the left date from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

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Restoring the Chimneys

The chimney stacks at Halswell consist of two distinct groups; those hidden within the formal architecture of the Baroque north wing, and those that survived from the Tudor manor with its later additions in the 1590’s and beyond. During the nineteenth century and the 1920s all of the chimneys were rebuilt above the roofline, either using big new redbrick stacks typical of a robust Victorian roofline, or hidden completely within the parapet of the seventeenth-century Baroque wing. As enticing as it seemed for us to remove the Victorian redbrick and attempt to re-create the older mix of chimneys, there were no remaining features to work with, and although the Victorian brick has a different feel, they are honest indicators of the house living through that period, and as such are important historically in their own right. Therefore, in consultation with conservation authorities, the decision was made that the redbrick would be maintained, and the mixture of twentieth century pots that cap them should be removed and replaced with more sympathetic features.

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Bath University Visit

Study by Masters Students in the Conservation of Historic Buildings and the Conservation of Historic Gardens and Cultural Landscapes

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Students arrive at the West Entrance

On the 18th March 2015, masters students, studying the Conservation of Historic Buildings and the Conservation of Historic Gardens and Cultural Landscapes, from Bath University, visited Halswell Park.

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Dr. Marion Harney

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