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Repairs to Royal Fort House

16 February 2017

The University is custodian to nearly 100 listed buildings; most of the University estate is within a conservation zone.  One of our best examples of a listed building is Royal Fort House,  Thomas Tyndall had the house built and it is considered to be the best example of 18th century domestic interior in the city. On the eastern side is an early 19th century three storey house.  Royal Fort House sits proudly in the 19th century Humphrey Repton landscaped gardens.

Carrying out unauthorised work on a listed building is a criminal offence so we obviously need to take great care when repairing these beautiful and iconic buildings.  We do this by following the strategy for the maintenance of the University Heritage Estate. Late in 2016 we noticed some cracks in the render and some internal damp penetration.  Before starting work we consulted and worked with the local authority conservation officer to ensure the work sets an example of conservation.

In carrying out work we peeled away layers of old render from the outside revealing the expected damage caused through decay, it also revealed the surprising inappropriate repairs of the past.  In previous decades the oak lintels seen in the photo were replaced with concrete. We believe the oak lintels may well have replaced brick arches in the late 19th Century.

We are now working closely with the conservation authority as to the best course of action to maintain the structure, the historic record and keep examples of the construction.   

We will replace the lintels and replace the render, but we need warmer temperatures to apply the lime based render and allow it to cure.  Until then we will keep the scaffolding around the building.

When walking through the gardens be sure to have a look at how this listed building was built before we cover it and protect it for hopefully many more decades.