Bats about conservation

Building Surveyor, Cheshire

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Rob Westmoreland - Building Surveyor
A night roost for bats, Paddock Cottage

Paddock Cottage is one of the ‘eye catchers’ at Lyme, designed to be visible from, and provide views of, the wider estate. It was originally built as a belvedere, or banqueting house, in the 17th century. 

In the mid-1990s the building was restored from a derelict ruin – but due to lime being incorrectly mixed and applied, it soon began to fall off the walls in chunks. Graffiti was scratched into the render.
 
Last summer, the cottage was fully restored, inside and out. Research indicated it was originally pointed with lime mortar and then limewashed, so that’s what has now been done. We’ve also installed new doors and windows and replaced internal plaster. On selected days from March to October, we’ll have ranger-led walks to Paddock Cottage and behind-the-scenes tours of the house and garden.
 
Small holes in the roof verges allow bats to enter the cottage
Small holes in the roof verges allow bats to enter
 
One important issue we’ve had to deal with is the presence of bats, which are protected. One of the high-level windows had been smashed by vandals, which had provided an access point for bats to get in. The ecologist confirmed that at least one was using it as a temporary night roost, so we were not permitted to properly repair the broken window. Instead, we’ve installed a smaller pane of glass to provide a slot at the bottom of the window to allow bats to fly in and out. We’ve also provided holes along the roof verges to allow bats to crawl under the tiles.
 
The work was undertaken as part of an Environmental Stewardship agreement with Natural England with 80 per cent of the funding coming from Defra and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.