During the opera season which finished in mid-July, work in the house had to stop but the north-west corner of the house is once again a hive of noisy activity. The reconstruction of the north wall which had previously been near collapse is now virtually complete, and a beautiful repair has been done, scarfing new oak onto old to conserve as much of the historic fabric as possible, and reusing the original bricks for infill panels.
A new doorway out to the orchard has been made here. Partitions to create the ladies and gents lavatories have been installed and the main drains carefully trenched in. A new plant room has been created in a space above the old wine cellar; and trenches, carefully watched by archaeologists, are being dug across the Lily Pond Garden behind the house to take the pipes and ducts for new services. A major BBC filming project starts in the house soon and will continue until the end of November, so it will be down tools again; but despite this, our project to introduce heat, light and power to the ground floor of the house and install the new toilets for event guests and visitors should nevertheless still be complete by the middle of spring 2019 – in time for next year’s events calendar.
Elsewhere, design work has been continuing apace for the buildings at Place Farm prior to the commencement of work to repair and convert them to their new uses. We hope and expect that our builders can commence with repair work on site over the next few weeks. The adjoining beautiful early 18th-century brick stableblock has turned out to be in even worse condition than previously thought; 20th century steel supports to the clocktower will need replacement as they are pushing apart the tops of the walls, which are no longer being restrained by the ceiling beams whose ends have rotted. We are therefore particularly grateful for the most generous grant of £50,000 which we have just been offered by the Country Houses Foundation towards this work which will make a real difference. We need to raise more funds before we can make a start on this part of the project but this is a great encouragement.