Protecting the plasterwork at Avebury Manor

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Latest update 28.07.2014 18:11

Protecting the plasterwork of the Tudor parlour – the next phase

In June this year, we started with the second phase of the conservation of the plaster ceiling in the Tudor parlour.

Last year we saw some small cracks appear in the ceiling. When we investigated, it turned out to have been caused by a combination of movement in the past (which was allowing vibrations in the ceiling), and old deathwatch beetle damage. At worst, we could lose the ceiling which dates back to 1600, so action had to be taken quickly.

Over the winter we inserted some metal brackets between the main beam and joists to stop any movement and vibrations in the floor. In February 2014 a plaster conservator carried out remedial work to part of the ceiling, but more work was needed. Until that work had been done, the Tudor rooms would have to stay closed.

The work needed to stabilise the ceiling

Now, in June, floorboards have been lifted in both the Tudor bedroom and the anteroom before it, so conservators have access to the ceiling from above. Cliveden Conservation continued inserting wires and washers into the ceiling through the ribs from below, attaching them to beams and joists above, and backfilling areas where the wooden laths had disintegrated.

Even though we knew there had been movement between the beams and joists in the past, and we’d put metal brackets between the main beam and joists, it now showed that the movement extended further back than we thought. Luckily, the beetle damage was not as extensive as we feared, but the conservators discovered another, even more serious problem: Many of the laths had become detached from the joists that they'd originally been attached to, so the ceiling was only supported in a few places.

Tudor parlour now open to the public again

Emergency supports were quickly put in place, and the debris and dirt that was sitting on top of the ceiling was very carefully removed. We now need to raise funds to continue the conservation work in this area. The emergency supports mean we have been able to re-open the Tudor parlour, but the bedroom is still out of bounds in order to avoid any vibrations in the ceiling.

We need your help

Please help us raise the money needed to secure and conserve the ceiling. All proceeds from raffle sales at Avebury will be used for the work on the ceiling.

Between Tuesday 29 July and Sunday 3 August there will be a Big Book Sale in the education room behind the barn to raise funds for the ceiling. If you wish to make a donation, please contact the Visitor Services Team on 01672 538 016.