Oxburgh Hall's Roof Project

Project
Oxburgh Hall scaffolding

A £6million project is underway at Oxburgh Hall, which will see repairs carried out to the roof, windows, chimneys and medieval gatehouse façade, securing Oxburgh’s future and the collection within. Our most ambitious conservation project to date, the work will take us until the end of 2021 to complete. 

The project came about after the unexpected collapse of a dormer window in 2016, which after further investigation, exposed a structural weakness to the roofline. 

In order for us to carry out the work, a highly complex engineer-designed scaffold will be erected around Oxburgh Hall for the duration of the project, which has had to overcome the added complication that the 500 year old building is surrounded by a moat. 

Roof repairs

Oxburgh Hall roof

14,000 roof tiles

The tiles now in need of repair are black-glazed pantiles, bought by the 4th Baronet to replace the originals in the 1770s. At the time of purchase he noted he required 50,000 pan-tiles and 800 ridge-tiles from Holland. Many are now weatherworn, cracked and damaged. 

A decorative chimney at Oxburgh Hall

27 chimneys

These elaborate chimneys stand tall (if somewhat wonky) on the roof of Oxburgh Hall. Those in need of repair will have hand-made bricks created that look like they’ve always been there.

Dormer windows at Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk

14 dormer windows

We have 14 dormer windows of varying shapes and sizes, all of which need dismantling and rebuilding. The dormers were added in the 19th century and although they’ve held on well for the last 150 years, the collapse of one in 2016 made it clear they’re in need of some TLC.

Story of endurance

Go behind the scenes
Video

Adapting the roof tiles for bats

We're adding 14,000 new black-glazed pan tiles to the roof at Oxburgh Hall. However, we've found that they're a little too slippery for our nocturnal friends. In this short film, Jane Harris our bat expert carried out a test, which found that a special bat friendly coating of paint mixed with sand, will ensure they can grip on and climb the tiles with their tiny claws, around the openings of their new roost.

Video

Thousands of bricks are being handmade for the project

One of the brick makers working on the project is Bulmer Brick and Tile Company. They've been supplying bricks to Oxburgh for over 50 years and have worked on other key historic buildings around the UK, including Hampton Court Palace. As well as the bricks for the dormer windows, they're making 12,000 bricks for the chimneys.

Video

Look what we discovered under the floorboards

Research continues to shed light on Oxburgh's history. Head behind the scenes with our curator and archaeologist, as they give you a further glimpse of some of the fascinating finds we've found so far under the floorboards and reveal more about what they tell us.

Video

Take a tour of the Gatehouse

Our curator, Anna Forrest, takes you on a tour of the Gatehouse and reveals more about the King's Room, the Queen's Room and the secret priest hole. Lynsey Coombs, our House and Collections Manager also reveals more about the work we're doing in this part of the building.

Video

Take a look behind the scenes as we protect Oxburgh's collection

As work begins in earnest on Oxburgh Hall’s roof project, the house team have been beavering away behind the scenes to get everything ready to ensure the historic collection remains safe whilst the work takes place.

Although the building will be wrapped in scaffolding whilst the work takes place, now is a really exciting time to visit Oxburgh Hall. The roof project at Oxburgh Hall has been made possible thanks to a grant from the Heritage Stimulus Fund, part of the Culture Recovery Fund, which is administered on behalf of the government by Historic England, as well as support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, thanks to money raised by National Lottery players. We also have The Wolfson Foundation to thank for their generous support. 

We’re also grateful for the support we've received from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development through the LEADER programme, the Sylvia Waddilove Foundation UK and The Constance Travis Charitable Trust. It's also thanks to many of you who have donated to our roof appeal or supported us through visiting or spending money in the tea-room, shop and bookshop. 

 

Latest updates

12 Aug 21

Bats on a non-slip roof

We're currently adding 14,000 new black-glazed pan-tiles to the roof that have been chosen to look the same as those used over two centuries ago, which had become weatherworn, cracked and damaged. However, the black glaze on the new tiles was found to be too slippery for our resident bats. Looking for a solution, our bat expert carried out tests which found that a coating of paint mixed with sand of different sizes enabled bats to grip with their tiny claws to climb easily to the safety of the rooftop roosts.

Surveys found a total of six bat species flying close to the house but it is brown long-eared, common pipistrelle and soprano pipistrelle bats which roost in the building. The brown long-eared bats use attics and roof spaces, and all three species use crevices under roof tile, ridge tiles and lead flashing. We worked with our bat expert to create a new roost in the nearby Bell Tower and installed bat boxes in the trees on the north terrace to provide alternative roosting places whilst the roof works takes place. Currently the bell in the Bell Tower can’t be rung, so not to disturb the bats.

The builders have also ensured there will be 32 new bat openings around the roof - some under the ridge tiles, some lower on the roof under pantiles, and others on the dormer windows. The roof tiles near the openings have been given the specially developed bat coating. Several of the roosts have carefully designed gaps in the roof lining to allow brown long-eared bats to get into the attics and roof voids. We hope they enjoy their new home when they move back in.

The roofscape and new tiles at Oxburgh Hall

02 Aug 21

Final dormer steels installed

The steel for the last of the dormer windows has now been installed. They also span an area of the roof which was previously damaged by fire during the Civil War and the charred timbers are now receiving support from the adjacent steelwork. The steelwork has been incredibly complex to design and place within the building, we are very grateful to the team who have done such amazing work completing this complex geometric puzzle.

Beams blackened by fire during the civil war receive steel supports

07 Jun 21

New roof greets the sky

Sections of the temporary roof across the North Range are starting to be dismantled, giving Oxburgh’s newly tiled roof its first glimpse of the sky. In the coming weeks some sections that are dismantled will also reveal the changes to the rest of the world, displaying the beautiful black tiles to our visitors. Eagle-eyed viewers may notice that we’re incorporating a copper strip at the ridge line of the roof which changes the acidity of the rainwater as it runs over the tiles, preventing moss growth and ensuring the tiles last for many more years to come.

Parts of the temporary roof have been removed from Oxburgh Hall, Norfok