Repairing Dunham's roof after 70 years

View of the rooftops at Dunham Massey, Cheshire, with the Stamford Military Hospital flag flying

What it is

Dunham Massey Hall is a large Georgian house built around a Tudor core. Its roof construction comprises lead covered parapet gutters with Westmoreland green slate coverings. Prior to the re-roofing project, all of the roof coverings had been identified as being at least 70 years old, with parts of the lead gutters suspected to be Victorian.
The slates were in fairly good condition and could be reused, however the lead sheets had cracked with thermal movement and the shallow drips regularly leaked. A decision was taken to repair the roof in four phases as funding became available. The repairs would incorporate features to improve access for maintenance as well as storm overflows.

What we did and why we did it

We needed to rectify problems of water penetration into the roof space, caused by the deterioration of the roof coverings. We renewed the roof coverings using like-for-like materials. We also increased the slope and structure of the parapet gutters to suit current Lead Sheet Association guidelines.
The opportunity was taken to undertake other repairs to the roof area, including: the repointing of chimneys, the repointing and re-rendering of parapet walls, repairs to damaged stonework and repairs to timber, both structural and decorative.
We also renewed the flagpole and relocated the lightning conductor down tapes to more sympathetic positions, for example, within wall junctions or behind rainwater pipes.
We encouraged visitors to Dunham Massey to view the on-going roof repairs via a public access staircase, which extended from ground level in the inner courtyard up to a viewing platform at roof level (separate from the working platforms on the scaffold).

What else did we do?

Our architect came up with some images derived from details shown in oil paintings hung in the mansion. These pictures depicted the front elevation of the house in the years 1655, 1730 and 1906. A banner was created using these images and attached to the scaffolding.
This helped to enhance the site and to hide the scaffolding on the principal elevation. It also provided a better face to visitors, with information boards fixed to hoarding at the entrance to mansion.

Why it was a success

The project was very successful and has generated some thoughtful feedback for any other properties considering a similar approach to this type of work.
The banner, display boards and associated free access to the repair works increased visitor learning and enjoyment – with many favourable comments received on the wonderful views over the listed parkland from the scaffold tower.