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The restoration of Frizzell's Cottage at Ardress House

View of the floorboards taken up and wiring exposed for the re-wiring project, Baddesley Clinton, Warwickshire
Looking after special places for the future | © National Trust/Nick Taylor

One substantial legacy gift, a dedicated team, two years and hundreds of mud bricks saved Frizzell's Cottage from total ruin. Discover more about this important restoration project.

About the building

The Grade B1 listed building, located at the entrance to Ardress House along the Lady's Mile walk, Frizzell’s Cottage is believed to have been constructed circa 1740. The mud brick, thatched cottage typical of houses that were popular throughout South Ulster during the mid-18th century.

The cottage passed to the National Trust in 1996 and was last lived in during the 1980s when two elderly sisters of the name Frizzell resided there.

Falling into disrepair

Having laid uninhabited for almost 30 years, time had not been kind to this mud-walled thatch. Overgrown with vegetation, scorched by fire damage and boarded up with metal grills, the building had fallen into a state of disrepair, resulting in it being added to the ‘at risk’ register for listed buildings in Northern Ireland.

The project

The project, which was fully funded by a legacy gift of £334,000, commenced in 2017 and took two years to complete.

Working in conjunction with Chris McCollum, Heritage Building Surveyor, and Robert Weir, builder, the team at Ardress aimed to restore this hidden gem using traditional techniques and materials, such as mud-brick and thatch.

A team effort

Many of the mud-bricks at Frizzell’s needed to be replaced, and we were delighted to welcome a team of enthusiastic staff and volunteers on site who mixed clay with straw and water, vigorously ‘puddling’ this together with their feet, before putting the mixture into moulds to make the new bricks.

Other conservation works to restore the cottage included roof timber repairs followed by re-thatching, lime render, new sash windows, doors and floors, and a new extension to side and rear.

Protected for the future

The project took 18 months, and every care was taken to maintain the several notable ‘vernacular’ features surviving within Frizzell’s Cottage that reflect the period style of the region. For example, the brace beam across the central bay and the jamb wall with spy hole.

Frizzell’s Cottage is now a beautiful building that respects the character and tradition of the original design, while incorporating modern-day comforts to create a unique two-bedroom property and is now a cosy, unique home to our tenants.

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