18 Century cottage restored with legacy funding

Frizzell's Cottage in mid-Ulster is currently being restored by the National Trust

We have recently embarked on a £334,000 restoration project to completely refurbish Frizzell’s Cottage. The project is being fully funded by a legacy gift, as a conservation charity such gifts provide an invaluable source of income, allowing us to pursue our objective of protecting special places for ever, for everyone.

When people think of the National Trust they often picture palatial houses and grand estates but the reality is that as a conversation charity, we look after a rich variety of places and spaces – from coast and countryside, to traditional cottages and ancient monuments.

A case in point is Frizzell’s Cottage in mid-Ulster.  A mud walled house with a thatch roof under tin, Frizzell’s is located at the entrance to Ardress House along the circular walk called ‘My Lady’s Mile’. 

Frizzell's Cottage during restoration
Frizzell's Cottage during restoration

The original cottage is believed to date from 1740 but could be significantly earlier, as such it is of national importance and is a grade B1 listed building.  Although characterised by a number of later extensions added around the 1950s, the cottage is typical of houses prevalent throughout south Ulster during the mid-18th to later 19th centuries. 

Restoring a hidden gem

It is estimated the project will take 12 months to complete and the Trust will be working in conjunction with Chris McCollum, Heritage Building Surveyor, and Robert Weir, builder, to restore this hidden gem using traditional techniques. Where an element needs to be replaced the original structure will be kept as much as possible and traditional materials, such as mud-brick and thatch, will be used.

The magic of mud

In mid-Ulster the most common material used in the wall construction of these types of dwellings was clay or mud, often dug on site, and from which the cottages derive their popular name of ‘mud-walled house’.

Traditional mud bricks are being used in the restoration process
Traditional mud bricks are being used in the restoration process

Many of the mud-bricks at Frizzell’s needed to be replaced we were delighted to welcome a team of staff and volunteers on site to mix clay with straw and water using their feet and put the clay mixture into moulds for shaping. 

Other conservation works to restore the cottage include roof timber repairs followed by re-thatching; lime render; new windows doors and floors and a new extension to side and rear.

Preserving historical features

Every care will be taken to maintain the several notable ‘vernacular’ features surviving within Frizzell’s cottage that reflect the period style of the region; for example the early 19 century iron fireplace with hob grate and beaded timber mantle in the west gable wall; the brace beam across the central bay and the jamb wall with spy hole’.

Once the refurbishment of Frizzell’s is complete we are keen to see this unique property become a home once more.  The Trust will be seeking a tenant to live in the two-bedroomed property and information on renting this or other properties can be obtained by contacting Roz Griffith on 02897512366.