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Restoring the Shell House at Springhill

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The Shell House before restoration | © Adam McCappin

In July 2021, one of the columns on the shell house rotted away at the base and collapsed, leaving it unsafe. A temporary post was installed in order for the roof to be stabilised. Last year, some charitable fundraising for the shell house meant that the first step of conservation could take place - reinstating the supporting columns. This has now been completed thanks to a dedicated team of rangers, volunteers, and specialised conservators, and the work of restoring the shell house to its former glory is well underway.

The Shell House

The shell house at Springhill was created by the Lenox-Conyngham family in the late 19th or early 20th century. It was a decorative shelter in which to read, take tea, and enjoy the sights and fragrance of the garden. It has survived in remarkably good condition over the past hundred years, but time and weather have taken their toll. The Trust is now taking the shell house into the future with a major conservation project, so that visitors can continue to enjoy this quiet corner at Springhill.

The conservation so far

Springhill's second-hand bookshop fundraising

This conservation project has been made possible by using the funds raised by the second-hand bookshop at Springhill. It's thanks to our supporters for making this possible, by their donations of books, memberships, and funding.

Shells and columns

In July 2022, one of the supporting columns collapsed due to the wood rotting. The first step of conservation has taken place and the roof is now safely secured. Some further construction work to the roof tiling is still needed, as several tiles have been damaged.

The second step now is for any broken shells to be carefully replaced by a specialised shell artist, who will be using shells sourced from the local coastline.

The shells are cleaned once a year by our conservation team, using gentle soapy water and toothbrushes. The shells have a tendency to turn green as they are exposed to the elements, and as a result, over the years some of the shells have naturally crumbled and disintegrated.

An archaeologist has been out and carried out a full survey and photo mapping exercise of the shellhouse, so there is a good record of its current condition pre-restoration.

If you would like to support this project, text SPRING to 70525.

Volunteer gardener working to clear growth and debris from the top of a wall with help from a young volunteer at Springhill, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Garden volunteers at Springhill | © National Trust Images/Oskar Proctor
Shrub with white flowers in full bloom September at Springhill, County Londonderry


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Visitors walking in the grounds at Springhill, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland

Springhill beech walk 

Enjoy a stroll on a historic path leading up to an 18th-century tower through an avenue of beech trees, once a favourite route for the generations that lived at Springhill.

DistanceMiles: 0.25 (km: 0.4)