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Iconic landmark clad in scaffolding as roof re-tiled in £5m revamp

PUBLISHED: 16:17 28 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:18 28 January 2020

The view from the gardens of Ickworth of the roof enclosed by scaffolding. Picture: JIM WOOLF

The view from the gardens of Ickworth of the roof enclosed by scaffolding. Picture: JIM WOOLF

JIM WOOLF

One of Suffolk’s most famous landmarks has been covered in scaffolding as builders re-tile the icnoic Rotunda at Ickworth as part of a £5million restoration project.

The view through the roof of the Rotunda - more than 7,000 slates are being replaced. Picture: JIM WOOLFThe view through the roof of the Rotunda - more than 7,000 slates are being replaced. Picture: JIM WOOLF

The conservation project is the biggest investment the National Trust has ever made at Ickworth, near Bury St Edmunds.

Shrouded in scaffolding whilst the specialist conservation work takes place, the interior of the Rotunda has been plunged into darkness.

This has been used by the trust to stage a new exhibition called Ickworth Uncovered, using bespoke scaffolding structures, spotlights and floodlights to showcase some of the house's treasures including paintings, sculpture, ceramics, and furniture.

The presentation has been made possible thanks to a grant of £85,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The timber roof the the Rotunda exposed by the removal of the old tiles. Picture: JIM WOOLFThe timber roof the the Rotunda exposed by the removal of the old tiles. Picture: JIM WOOLF

Anne Jenkins, director of England, Midlands and East at the National Lottery Heritage Fund said: "Ickworth Uncovered provides visitors with the perfect opportunity to get up close and personal to the fascinating conservation work, and enable them to explore the enviable collections and buildings of Ickworth, whilst learning new stories and discovering unseen treasures.

"We're delighted that National Lottery money has opened up these doors to a host of new audiences."

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More than 40 tonnes of specially cut and shaped slate tiles will be installed at the 200-year-old building.

The work has created unique conditions in which to show Ickworth's treasures, such as Flaxman's The Fury of Athamas sculpture. Picture: JIM WOOLFThe work has created unique conditions in which to show Ickworth's treasures, such as Flaxman's The Fury of Athamas sculpture. Picture: JIM WOOLF

Experts will cut and shape Westmorland green slate to fit the Rotunda roof, a process first completed at Ickworth in 1806 by the stonemasons De Carle.

A specialist construction team will be replacing 7,000 slates weighing 42 tonnes, taking them off the domed roof and individually shaping each new slate to create the dome.

In addition to the roof the house's underground vaults are being reinforced thanks to a £50,000 grant from the Wolfson Foundation.

The conservation work is due to be completed in the summer of 2020.

Looking through the scaffolding from the top of the Rotunda. Picture: NATIONAL TRUSTLooking through the scaffolding from the top of the Rotunda. Picture: NATIONAL TRUST

Ickworth House is set within 1,800 acres of rolling parkland and woods in the village of Horringer, just outside Bury St Edmunds.

Originally commissioned in 1795 by the Earl-Bishop, Frederick Augustus Hervey - the 4th Earl of Bristol - the east and west wings of the house were built to display the significant art treasures he collected during 30 years of grand tours around Italy.

For further information on the project and opening times visit the National Trust Ickworth website.


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