Welcome to the Dunham Lodge Estate in central Norfolk, where we have recently completed a long programme of repair and refurbishment. I am particularly proud of this project having effectively been Lead Consultant, responsible not only for structural and civil engineering but also architecture and building/estate services.
The estate currently stands at 235 acres and comprises a classic Georgian manor house (known as Dunham Lodge - Grade II*) and Coach House (Grade II) along with 'Gothick' style Gatehouse and Gardener's Cottage (Grade II), a 'D'shaped Walled Garden (exactly 1 acre internally - Grade II) and a number of other agricultural buildings.
The estate was created by the purchase of 680 acres of agricultural land and parts of the adjoining Little Dunham village by Thomas Rogers Esq, (once Alderman of Norwich) in 1741, but building work on the Lodge did not start until 1783, following purchase of the estate by Edward Parry Esq, on his return from military service in Bengal. The Lodge was finished in 1785 with the remainder of buildings completed by the early 1800's.
Notable former owners include Sir Charles Mansfield Clarke, personal physician to Queen Adelaide, who was created 1st Baronet of Dunham Lodge for his services to the royal house and Major Ivor "Toby" Buxton, a noted colonial soldier who saw service in East Africa. The current owner, our private client, purchased the estate from the Barclay (banking) family in 2006, shortly after the death of the widow of Brigadier Peter Barclay. Poet William Cowper is recorded to have lived at Dunham Lodge for a short time with his female companion Mary Unwin.
Part 1 of this blog will cover works to the Lodge. Subsequent parts will look at the other buildings we have dealt with across the estate.
Our survey work revealed the usual array of problems following a long period of poor maintenance - leaking roof gutters behind parapets and in valleys, rotting and draughty windows, crumbling rubbed brick arches, cracked and leaning brick parapets, totally inadequate drainage system etc - and so we started on a scheme with the philosophy of like-for-like repairs wherever possible.
Site work started in the spring of 2009 with specialist historic buildings contractor R&J Hogg, who did and exceptional job and were always happy to share their expertise to resolve various tricky issues.
I won't go into masses of detail (but do feel free to ask any detailed technical questions via comments or twitter) so have annotated a number of site photographs below:-
|Existing sheds in the rear walled garden were also refurbished. One of the four had collapsed and was rebuilt to match. Under the hardcore lies an original cobbled driveway which we are hoping to restore in the next phase.|
|Note the height of the new lead parapet gutters here. Increased rainfall intensity over recent years has modified step height requirements in the LSA standard details. As you can see we only just got it in under the coping in this corner!|
|Refurbished original dated lead rainwater head with new lead overflow. Although the client has a good maintenance regime in place, he felt he needed a failsafe device!|
|The problem of some existing arches. Many were severely crumbled (partly due to original poor quality) and could not be saved. Others had sagged or rotated and were simply pinned and wedged back in place where possible.|
|The "unseen" elevation. Survey work showed the bay was not an original feature. We cannot be sure but we also believe the lower section is not contemporary with the higher section.|
|Structural roof repairs - Like-for-like timber used where possible. Dense slow-grown swedish whitewood used for structural repairs to existing baltic softwood structure, sourced from the Holkham Estate.|
|New timber sections scarfed onto end of primary trusses. Steel plates used only where necessary due to high loadings involved and the desire to minimise loss of existing historic timber.|
|Dragon beam, hip rafter and wall plates - All like-for-like repairs.|
|New lead covered infill to upper roof. Existing inverted roof was a maintenance nightmare as split into 3 small areas by chimneys. Done at the suggestion of the Conservation Officer on this occasion!|
|Ecological requirements meant we had to allow bats ongoing access to the roof space. You can just see the handmade lead access hole and bat 'ladder' here.|
The Lodge is now ready and waiting for the upcoming program of internal redecoration (once the client has filled his piggy bank again!) This phase will incorporate consideration of possible alternative heating systems (currently oil boiler & rads).