Paycocke's Lime Washing Project

Scaffolding up at Paycockes

In the autumn of 2019, we embarked on a multi-year project to externally re-decorate Paycocke's House. Much of the exterior elevation is covered with a lime based mortar, and the timber-work which supports the fabric of the building is preserved using a 'lime wash'. 

Importantly for historic buildings like Paycocke's, limewash is considerably more 'breathable' than other paint options, allowing any moisture in the building to escape. It consolidates the surface, and is used over both the timber, and the lime render for any repairs. In addition, the alkaline composition of the lime deters problematic wood-boring beetles who would love the timber in Paycocke's.

Because much of the elevation of Paycocke's is rendered or timber, this project does not come without significant costs- each of the three phases costs between £15,000 and £20,000.. Therefore, we have split the project into three sections in order to both manage the cost and ensure that the work does not impact on our visitors, seeing as the majority of the work will take place whilst we are open.

Section One- Autumn 2019

The proposal for the first phase of work is to tackle the oldest part of the house- the Solar Wing (dating back to 1420), and the courtyard which houses our exterior tea room seating. This section is arguably the most viewed because people recline and enjoy the garden from both areas, so it has been designated as the first phase to be lime washed.

Paycocke's Solar Wing & Courtyard
Paycocke courtyard
Paycocke's Solar Wing & Courtyard

Section Two- Spring 2020

The second phase in Spring 2020 plans to deal with the remainder of the rear of Paycocke's. This comprises of the iconic gable, with the entrance way to the house, and the cart way where visitors walk through to access the property itself. Both spaces are equally important as they are exposed to the elements, and also welcome visitors as they arrive! This space is dominated by the historic Wisteria, which has been growing there since the time of Noel Buxton in the early 1900's.

The cart way entrance to Paycocke's
Paycockes House Cartway
The cart way entrance to Paycocke's
The gable of Paycocke's is beautifully swathed in wisteria
Paycocke's Entrance
The gable of Paycocke's is beautifully swathed in wisteria

Section 3- Spring 2021

When Thomas Paycocke built the front elevation of Paycocke's in 1509, he did so with every intention to impress. The delicate and intricate timber work may be interspersed with brickwork, but the timber carvings are still in need of lime washing to protect them from the effects of the elements. In addition, the frontage faces straight onto the main road through Coggeshall, so it is particularly at risk of damage from pollution. This section is planned to be started some time in spring 2021. 

The front elevation of Paycocke's House rises up out of the fog
The front elevation of Paycocke's House rises up out of the fog
The front elevation of Paycocke's House rises up out of the fog

Latest updates

24 Mar 20

Phase 2 is complete!

Once the scaffolding is removed from the second phase of the project, the whole of Paycocke's is revealed in resplendent glory once again. We can't wait to see the Wisteria come into flower against the fresh white backdrop, and we certainly cannot wait to see the front of the house look as fresh as the back currently does!

The whole rear facade is complete

04 Mar 20

The pargetting is conserved

The delicate pargetting is a beautiful, and at times under valued aspect of Paycocke's. Pargetting is the art of ornamenting plaster work on building facades which would otherwise have been plastered smooth. We have a few different styles around Paycocke's, and one of the more intricate is on the gable. Each time that the lime wash is applied, it dries into the grooves of the pargetting, and the detail can be lost. However, the skilled craftsmen who performed this work for us delicately scraped out some of the old lime wash, to ensure that when the fresh coat is applied, the detail still stands out.

Paycockes house pargetting

25 Feb 20

The second phase begins!

The scaffolding for the second phase goes up quickly in February, and a full three levels are needed to reach the very top of the gable end. Much of the cart way is left without scaffolding as it will be reached by a moving tower to allow visitors through the entrance way.

Scaffolding up at Paycockes