Restoring the historic structures in Fishpool Valley

Building repair works are underway to conserve the Gothic pumphouse and grotto within the valley. Don't forget to check out the icehouse and limekiln which were restored during 2018.

Each structure was carefully cleared of its vegetation by our ranger volunteer team before work started. We’ve also been working alongside archaeologists and ecologists to ensure the things that make our valley special are fully protected whilst the works are being undertaken.

Colin Richards of CJR Heritage Services and his team worked on the structures in 2018. They consolidated the existing structure of the limekiln while also preserving its archaeological integrity. The limekiln was an important industrial structure within this romantic landscape; limestone quarried on the estate was burned in these wood-fired kilns to produce quicklime which was used as a fertiliser on the farmland.

The icehouse has also been repaired and restored. This igloo shaped cellar would have been filled with winter ice from the ponds and used to cool drinks in the summer months.

For eight weeks from Monday 13 May, restoration work will also be completed on the rusticated grotto. It was stabilised during 2018 but further conservation work will now be carried out to the stonework. Built into the far slope of the valley, this drystone grotto dates back to the 1790s. It was constructed as a place of tranquility and to provide a panoramic view of the valley. Eventually, you will be able to sit inside the grotto and admire the view from within it, as was originally intended.

The grotto in Fishpool Valley after stabilisation and strengthening
The grotto in Fishpool Valley after repair works
The grotto in Fishpool Valley after stabilisation and strengthening


Restoration work will also be carried out to the Gothic pumphouse over the same time period, including conservation of the stonework and interior beams and timber. This used to pump spring water up to the castle and we think it was built sometime after 1800. It is unclear what the water was used for or what prompted the need to pump water from the valley. There is a reservoir hidden in a small copse just above the castle and it has been suggested that water from the reservoir was once used to supply water to an ornamental leat that ran through the gardens at the front of the castle.

Once this building has been restored and repaired, we hope to install a timber viewing platform inside it so that you can enter the building safely for the first time in many years. You'll also be able to see the remains of the beam pump and water wheel.

An artist's impression of the pumphouse after restoration work. This project has been supported by a restoration grant from the Association for Industrial Archaeology
An artist's vision of the pumphouse in Fishpool Valley after restoration work
An artist's impression of the pumphouse after restoration work. This project has been supported by a restoration grant from the Association for Industrial Archaeology

Thanks to our supporters, we're able to restore these historic structures and bring them back to life. This project has been supported by a restoration grant from the Association for Industrial Archaeology. The work has also been funded by the Ian Addison Foundation. 

Find out more about our project by following one of the links below.