Our Summerhouse restoration

Elgar's Summerhouse restored to health

Elgar’s beautiful historic summer house nestled in The Firs cottage garden has been lovingly renovated and restored.

The summerhouse was initially situated at Marl Bank in Worcester, Elgar’s last home where he passed away in 1934.

Elgar and his Summerhouse in Marl Bank
Elgar and his Summerhouse in Marl Bank
Elgar and his Summerhouse in Marl Bank

When Marl Bank was knocked down in the 1969 as part of Worcester regeneration project, one Elgar enthusiast rallied against the destruction, he was unable to save the house, but he was gifted the Summerhouse from its garden as consolation.

In time the family donated the summerhouse to the Elgar Birthplace Museum in the 1980s since then it has been enjoyed by many visitors to Elgar’s Birthplace as a shady spot on a scorching day or a cosy dry shelter on the more common British rainy days.  

Perfect for reading whatever the weather
Perfect for reading whatever the weather
Perfect for reading whatever the weather

It was recently discovered that it was structurally unsafe so had to be closed off to visitors. Funded by the Elgar Foundation James a carpenter and restoration expert was tasked with fixing the Summerhouse.

Restoring the Summerhouse walls
Restoring the Summerhouse walls
Restoring the Summerhouse walls

The summerhouse was top heavy with thatch and 3 of the 8 upright poles had completely rotted at ground level.

 'The whole thing swayed rather alarmingly. The roof was only attached to the uprights with between 8 and 16 nails.' said James.

First the roof was supported with scaffolding, then the seating and cladding was removed.

Strangely the three poles that had rotted were made of Cherry wood an interesting choice for an outdoor structure as is more commonly known for its beautiful colour rather than its longevity. Therefore these were replaced with Sweet Chestnut poles which the existing posts were made out of.  

As much of the original cladding was reused after James individually took all of the nails out. However, there was a shortfall so more cladding was needed, James had to source an appropriate diameter of sweet chestnut wood which he shaped in his workshop to replicate the original cladding.

Restoring Elgar's Summerhouse Seats
Restoring Elgar's Summerhouse
Restoring Elgar's Summerhouse Seats

Unfortunately, the seating was beyond a state of repair due to woodworm attack making the pieces flimsy and unsafe. Therefore, more Sweet Chestnut needed to be sourced and crafted to emulate the original seating. 

Restoring the summerhouse seating
Restoring the summerhouse seating
Restoring the summerhouse seating

 ‘I would like to think that the summer house is safe now for many years to come and feel very proud that my work has added to the rich heritage that is attached to this beautiful sight, ‘says James

Now the summerhouse is set to be enjoyed by all of you just as Elgar enjoyed it in his final years. So come and sit a while in the peaceful Worcestershire countryside and see what will inspire you.

Summerhouse peeking over roses
Summerhouse peeking over roses
Summerhouse peeking over roses