Hotel Designs

Miniview - 7th Jun 2011

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Ightham Mote, a designer's source book

It may seem extravagant in our recessionary times that the NT spent £10 million on conservation but the money has been remarkably well and intelligently spent. The decisions made prior to any work being undertaken were well thought through. Rather than restoration conservation was decided on. As the building was continually built and adapted the house acquired by the National Trust contained the original 1330 moated farmhouse but differed greatly from it as the courtiers and landowners of the succeeding centuries added to and amended the house to keep it up with the times.

The National Trust essentially deconstructed the house and recorded the position of every brick and piece of timber. Many timbers were replaced to repair both the ravages of time and the death watch beetle.Some of these can be seen externally as no effort has been made to hide the new wood.

Carefully all the 1512 amendments made to a wing built in 1450 were deconstructed, the original structure photographed and recorded, repairs made and then the later amendments carefully replaced over the top.

Where new timbers have been spliced in to replace those too poor to be reused techniques used have carefully replicated those of the original time. Plaster was researched and then carefully reconstructed - everything from burning limestone to make slaked lime to using horsehair in the plaster has been carefully replicated. As one staff member said "It lasted more than 400 years and we are not sure modern equivalents would do the same".

First published in the DesignClub on 9th May 2011

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