How were bats protected during The Vyne roof project?
Like many historic buildings, The Vyne’s roof is visited by hundreds of bats. In fact, it’s been home to at least five species during our huge £5.4 million roof project, including a maternity roost of whiskered bats in the Tudor chapel roof. Here, we reveal how we’ve protected these furry creatures, by including new features like bat ladders.
Bringing in the bat experts
Surveys revealed our roof is peppered with bat roosting sites. With the correct licence, works to the roof could be carried out despite the presence of bats. However there were strict guidelines.
The ecologists were on site whenever we needed to strip locations that were likely to contain bats, such as under the ridge tiles. If bats were spotted raising their young, then work to that section of the roof stopped until they had left. Any adult bats found were carefully re-homed in bat boxes on the estate.
By staggering the repair work in this way, we were able to ensure the bats would continue to breed successfully through the entire build programme.
Bat ladders & bunkers
To make sure that bats can still access the attic space in winter, our carpenters created 15 ‘bat ladders’ which were inserted into the roof. These small, V-shaped wooden tunnels sit behind the tiles and allow bats to climb through the insulation to the attic space inside.
In order for the bat bunkers to be more ‘roomy’, the team placed tiny wooden frames under each end of the ridge tiles when they were fitted. This held the mortar up allowing these little mammals to crawl under the adjacent tiles.
Maintaining bat roost sites
The Vyne will always continue to be a safe haven for bats. As part of this project, all roost sites were maintained in the new roof. To achieve this, small plastic objects called 'spacers' were used to prop up the bottom end of some of the tiles. This allows the bats to roost underneath them. The spacers were added in roughly the same location as the original roost sites.
Recent research has shown that modern building materials like breathable membranes can 'defibre', with bats becoming entangled in the fibres and dying. Here at The Vyne we used traditional felt with an air ventilation system instead, along with handmade clay tiles rather than absolutely straight ones, so that there would be gaps for bats to get behind them.