Historic building gets £370,000 repair

CAREFULLY positioned buckets collecting rainwater in the entrance hall of one of Suffolk's architectural gems are to become a thing of the past when an extensive conservation project at the building begins later this month.

CAREFULLY positioned buckets collecting rainwater in the entrance hall of one of Suffolk's architectural gems are to become a thing of the past when an extensive conservation project at the building begins later this month.

Around £370,000 will be pumped into 18th Century Ickworth House, near Bury St Edmunds, to repair a 180-year-old lantern which tops the impressive 120ft Rotunda – and has begun leaking heavily due to its age.

Staff at the National Trust-owned property currently grab buckets and towels at the first sign of rain clouds, as even a gentle downfall can see water trickle through the roof onto the historic artefacts below.

But vast amounts of scaffolding will be erected next Monday to give workmen access to the lantern, which lies 120ft above the surrounding parkland, to enable the glass to be removed and replaced.

A spokesman for the National Trust said: "The lantern dates from when Ickworth House was completed in the 1820s.

"Unsurprisingly, after all this time the lantern has begun to leak. During a storm, or even gentle rain, you can see the grand entrance hall festooned with buckets of various shapes, sizes and colours.

Most Read

"Often, the large sculpture of Athamus is also seen wearing a towel - not for modesty's sake but to protect the marble from the rainwater."

Around £370,000 in funding has been secured from various bodies, including English Heritage, to allow the work to take place.

Once a temporary roof has been constructed to protect Ickworth House from the elements, the lantern – which is designed to allow natural light into the Rotunda's staircase below – will be completely removed.

During the winter, when the building is closed to visitors, internal scaffolding will give craftsmen access to the lantern's cast iron frame, which will be cleaned and treated before the new glass is added.

It is hoped the repairs will help control humidity within the Rotunda, while preventing damp from forming.

The project is one of two planned by the National Trust in west Suffolk over the coming months to help secure the future of its buildings.

Essential work on the exterior rendering of the 16th Century Lavenham Guildhall began on Monday, with more modern alterations and repairs stripped away to return the timber-framed property to its former glory.

Hard cement coating the framing will be removed at No 1, Lady Street, the condition of the timber assessed and a new render of traditional soft lime plaster applied. The work is due for completion in November.

Custodian Jane Gosling said she was delighted the project would take place, adding: "As custodian, I actually live at No. 1 Lady Street and will be in residence throughout the conservation project.

"I am so pleased that this necessary building work is taking place as it will conserve and protect the building for many years to come."

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter