Conservation of the Castle Courtyard
As part of the ongoing conservation of Hever Castle, the maintenance team restored the Tudor façade in the Castle courtyard in 2016.
What conservation work took place?
Tudor construction is comprised of exposed timber frames in-filled with rendered timber panels. In 2000 the maintenance team replaced half of the timbers as they had suffered from death watch beetle. Part of the current conservation effort involves checking those timbers to ensure they are still in good condition.
At the same time, the team replaced the rendered panelling in between the timber frames which has previously been badly repaired using a high cement mixture. These cement covered panels do not move and flex as well as a lime mix, do not look as good and too often have started to peel away from the building.
The new panels will be covered in lime render, which is a natural product that is sympathetic to the building’s age. The lime will be pre-coloured for consistency, ensuring a uniform look across the Tudor exterior. Lime render dries slowly over a period of months, during which time the colour will gradually change until it settles in its final colour at some point next year.
As is typical when renovating historic buildings, you can never be quite certain of what will be uncovered. If the team discovers that the timbers are not in good condition, they will need to replace these and potentially renew the timber frames surrounding the windows as well.
Any timbers that need renewing during this process will be replaced with green oak. As the oak dries it will give a lovely effect that will tie in with the rest of the building. Any additional timber required will be sourced locally and manufactured on the Hever Castle Estate. Once restored, this section of the Castle shouldn’t need to be refurbished for well over 50 years.
A similar process was carried out by the maintenance team three years ago when they restored the Tudor Suite portion of the Astor Wing. Once complete, the Castle Courtyard will bear a similar appearance to this section.
What will be the impact on visitors?
During this time the entrance to the Castle was covered in scaffolding; however, there was minimal disruption to the public.
Who is in charge of the conservation work?
The conservation of the Tudor exterior was carried out by head of maintenance, Clive Manning. Having worked at Hever Castle for 21 years and previously for the Sackville family on the Knole Estate and other properties, Clive has extensive experience working with historic buildings.
A passion for working on historic properties is clearly in his blood. During his seven year tenure working for the Sackville family, three generations of Clive’s family were working there at once. Today at Hever Castle, Clive’s son Tom is also part of the maintenance team, following in his father’s footsteps.