HOUSE AND ESTATE

RESTORATION OF THE HOUSE

Introduction

The restoration work carried out on Chawton House was all done using traditional methods, in keeping with the history of the house. Before work even started, extensive research was done to establish the history of the building and the landscape, and during the restoration, a careful watch was kept for evidence of archaeology and architectural history. A historical team, including architectural historian Edward Roberts, archaeologist Christopher Currie, dendrochronologist Dan Miles and landscape consultant Sybil Wade, were able to investigate and document anything found that provided additional evidence of the history of the house and estate.

The first repair work was done on the roof of the south range of the house. This work began in 1995 and consisted of temporary holding repairs. The historical research carried out was then used to put together plans for the listed building application and planning consents. This was extensive work involving long negotiations with the local planning departments and English Heritage. At the end of October 1997, planning and listed building consent was finally granted, enabling work to begin in 1998, when the initial phase of the main restoration work began. The south range roof was stripped of the tarpaulins and major timber repairs were carried out. The Victorian billiard wing, which was causing damage to the fabric of the Elizabethan house, was demolished. The following year, work began on the outbuildings, which subsequently became the estate offices and workshop. The drive was lowered and, in 2000, work also started on the restoration of the well and pumphouse, including its machinery. In 2001, internal work began on the south range and the restoration of the west range roof was also carried out. In 2002, work began on a timber framed barn to accommodate four shire horses, a tack room and a hayloft, and in the same year, the final phase of restoration work began on the house, with work carried out on the internal part of the west range and the whole of the north range. Extensive dry rot was discovered; brickwork had to be removed, and timber was also removed so that it could be treated and rebuilt. The restoration of the house was essentially complete when it opened as Chawton House Library in July 2003.

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Temporary cover over part of the Chawton House roof

Temporary cover over part of the Chawton House roof, which was in need of significant repair when the restoration work began

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roof timbers

During restoration, the roof was stripped off to reveal the timbers beneath, in order to carry out essential repair work

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