Croome under the floorboards
Just over two years ago Croome underwent a huge re-servicing project to replace the plumbing and electrics, install ground source heating, replace rotten floorboards and window frames, shore up crumbling beams and work on the roof to make the building watertight.
Having successfully applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a £1.8 million grant which added to a further £3.2 million raised from generous donations from our visitors and grants from charitable trusts we set about making the house safe, secure and usable.
We carried out the huge repair in front of our visitors, encouraging them to get involved and share in the conservation and building works taking place, to interact with the builders, plasterers, electricians, roofers, plumbers and other specialists during the two year refurbishment by Croft Building & Conservation Ltd.
What proved extremely interesting to many people were the items we found under floorboards and in the hidden spaces uncovered during the works, including a single leather shoe, ping-pong balls, a Nike trainer, some 1970s girly magazines and some 18th-century nails, to mention but a few.
Also found was an old wallpaper paste brush, some cigarette packets, a piece of broken crockery under one of the flagstone floors, old newspapers and a note giving the names and addresses of some decorators who had worked in the house in 1976.
We had to erect scaffold around virtually the whole property and as it was going to be in place for around a year we built a platform and a ‘Sky Café’ at one end so that visitors could see what was happening close up.
During all the works we undertook we discovered more about this incredible building that had been a family home since the 17th century, a school, British headquarters of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, a potential hotel and finally a family home again before it was secured under a 999-year lease by the National Trust.