Brickwork has begun on the dormer window which, after unexpectedly collapsing in 2016, exposed a structural weakness to the roofline; launching the Raise the Roof project. It is an exciting stage in the project, to see the dormer which started this work begin to reappear. After everything we’ve learnt about Oxburgh Hall’s history, and the discoveries made throughout the project, we wonder now if we should be thanking this troublesome dormer window.
Oxburgh Hall's Roof Project
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.
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.
03 May 21
Rebuilding the troublesome dormer
22 Mar 21
Roof tiling begins on the north range
The north range of our roof has now been felt and battened, and almost all the lead detailing has been completed, which means that we can now begin to tile those areas. The uniform black colour and lack of wear stands in contrast to the visual appearance of the old roof, but we know that the tiles appearance will change over time as they weather in.
As the new roof goes on, we are also working to prepare the environment for our local bat population, who will move back in once the project is finished. There will be areas where amended roof tiles leave space for bat access points and adjustments are being made to some tiles to create friction for bat claws, allowing them to roost.
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?