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

17,000 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 are standing tall (if somewhat wonky) on the roof of Oxburgh Hall and with the help of Bulmer Brick & Tile Company, who have the original moulds, 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

Thousands of bricks are being handmade for the project

Bulmer Brick and Tile Company have 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

24 Feb 21

Hidden beneath the King’s Room floor

The King’s Room is a key room within the Gatehouse, which was named after Henry VII who visited Oxburgh Hall in 1498. Whilst work is underway on the roof, we are taking the opportunity to address a long-standing structural issue with a leaning wall and with the floor raised to insert the steel bars that connects the north and south walls, we have been doing more underfloor archaeology.

So, what did we find? The main surprise for our archaeologist, was the discovery of a thick layer of black material, which turned out be a mix of perfectly preserved oat grains and carpenters waste (saw dust, wood shavings and off-cuts) and ash all trampled down. This means the room has not always been the grandest in the house and in the 17th and 18th centuries it had become a functional space, serving as a grain store and workshop. Entombed here were the remains of what had been an invisible tribe of creatures making their home in dark corners of the workshop, including perfectly preserved cellar and mealworm beetles and little mummified families of mice.

Underneath this was the remains of a timber floor, perhaps the original floor. Resting against one of the rotted joists was a thin bronze coin. In fact, this was a jetton, a type of token used for doing calculations and accounts on a chequer board (hence the term exchequer). The jetton dates from the mid to late 16th century, when presumably the room was still a grand and suitable place to do the estate accounts. This timber floor had been constructed on a layer of rubble, which was a mixture of ornamental brick and stone. Could this be evidence for a fine building, which stood on the site before the construction of Oxburgh Hall?

A jetton found under the floor at Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk.

18 Feb 21

King's Room floor is re-laid

As part of our work to stabilise the gatehouse for the future, the team from Messenger removed the Victorian brick tiles in the King’s Room. The work under the floor has now been completed, as has our archaeologist Angus Wainwright’s excavation of the area, and the floor is being re-laid. When Messenger originally removed the floor, they numbered every brick and recorded where each one came from; now they are putting this jigsaw puzzle back together.

Brick floor being laid in the King's Room, Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk.

15 Feb 21

Work begins on gatehouse roof

Leadworkers are now on-site and cutting sheeting for the gutters. They will also be working to make the roof of the gatehouse weatherproof and watertight.

Lead sheeting being hammered into place, Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk.