Retiled Ickworth Rotunda to be visible by end of this month
PUBLISHED: 13:57 11 September 2020 | UPDATED: 15:37 11 September 2020
An ambitious £5million project to restore the roof of the famous Rotunda at the National Trust’s Ickworth has been completed.
It took 45,000 new slates and 270 miles of scaffolding to retile the iconic dome in the biggest investment the trust has ever made at Ickworth, near Bury St Edmunds.
One of the most photographed buildings in the National Trust, Ickworth’s Rotunda has been covered in scaffolding for more than a year whilst the conservation work was carried out to re-slate the entire Rotunda dome, repair the East and West wing link roofs and add lightning protection to the building.
Called Ickworth Uncovered, the project has seen construction experts cut and shape more than 7,000 Westmorland green slate tiles on site to fit the Rotunda roof, a process which was first completed at Ickworth in 1806 by the stonemasons De Carle.
The scaffolding, which in 2019 took more than two months to erect, will now begin to be dismantled and will take about six weeks to come down, with the Italianate-style building becoming visible to visitors again by the end of September.
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The 80-foot crane which came on site last year to lift the temporary scaffold roof onto the 40 metres high and wide building will return to start the process of lifting the scaffold roof off the Rotunda.
Work to fit the new slate - which is the same type originally used more than 200 years ago - began to make its way up onto the roof in July, many of them bearing inscriptions and messages from visitors who supported fundraising for the project by donating to sign one.
MORE: 262ft crane needed to finish mammoth scaffolding at Ickworth
Tim Watson, general manager at Ickworth, said: “Ickworth Uncovered has been a huge investment in Ickworth’s future, securing the Rotunda and all of the treasures it houses within and we are incredibly grateful for our visitors’ support and donations during the project.
“It’s been an incredible conservation project to be a part of with all the complexities involved when the house was open before the coronavirus pandemic forced us to close, showing visitors what we’ve been doing on the roof through our purpose built Project Studio and a new house exhibition alongside the project.
“Whilst the scaffolding does look spectacular, we are also all very excited to be able to see the Rotunda in all its glory once again.”
During the project, many of the old slates have moved on to new homes, with visitors buying them to use in home projects such as plant borders, dinner placemats and even old shed roofs.
The team of skilled craftsman, lead workers and slaters on site have been working under new safety arrangements to allow for social distancing and the final slate was laid at the beginning of August.
The conservation project is being funded thanks to the generosity of the charity’s members, supporters and donors, together with significant grant funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, The Wolfson Foundation and the Arts Council.
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