Holme Lacy House is a Grade I listed late 17the Century manor house, the largest of its kind in Herefordshire and said to be inspired by French chateaux. A house has stood in its position since the reign of King Henry VIII, and it is likely that the current building still has parts of the original
house hidden within its walls.
The house, as with many grand English houses, has been altered a number of times over the years, with each owner creating additions and alterations to their own tastes and designs.
As with many historic houses, well-meaning repairs have been completed over the years, but not all of these repairs were appropriate, many causing further damage to the stonework.
Mono Masonry Ltd. has been asked to survey and repair the building, to help restore it to it’s former glory and to protect it for future generations.
Holme Lacy House is primarily built from a mixture of Bath limestone and a red sandstone. The Bath limestone is the honey/cream coloured stone used for the window and door surrounds and the balustrading, and the sandstone makes up the main ashlar walls.
The lighter patches on the walls show where previous repairs have been made in the form of cement render.
The first phase of repair includes works to the Bath limestone balustrades which were added in the 19th Century. Over the years the iron fixings that were used to construct the balustrading have rusted, and subsequently expanded, causing the soft limestone to crack. This is a common problem found with historic iron fixings and stonework.
The balustrading at Holme Lacy was originally fixed into place using iron fixings. Over the years these fixings have rusted and a large proportion of the bottles have cracked as a result. Some past repairs have been completed, replacing original bottles with concrete alternatives.
Often with past repairs on large historic houses, only the bare minimum works were completed at one time. This often means a patchwork of repairs of varying quality and materials. Warner Leisure Hotels see the importance in maintaining these wonderful buildings and as such have decided to completely restore and conserve the balustrading, on the advice of the Conservation report.
What this means is that all concrete bottles will be replaced with Bath stone bottles to match the originals, and any bottles and panels that can be retained, will be repaired, conserved and made structurally sound.
This process involves dismantling any unsafe sections, rebuilding using stainless steel fixings, and completing any mortar repairs and pinning. The stonework will be repointed in a soft lime mortar appropriate to the Bath stone.
If you are passing the Holme Lacy hotel, you’ll be able to see our masons working on this prestigious house in the flesh. We’ve created an on-site workshop where passers-by can look through the viewing screen to see the stones take shape.
Britain is known for its grand houses, and often we hear of additions and alterations made over the years by eccentric aristocratic owners. But what is sometimes forgotten is the mass demolition of country houses in the 20th Century. A combination of social revolution, death penalties and two World Wars, brought about a decline in the need/want/wealth required to maintain multiple country retreats amongst the wealthy. During this time, hundreds of historically and architecturally important houses were sadly demolished, and it was the introduction of The National Trust, English Heritage and other private trusts that meant we were able to save and maintain these beautiful, yet wildly expensive treasures.
Holme Lacy is no exception. This estate is steeped in history, having roots dating back to the time of King Henry VIII and having played host to Royalty, along with an array of interesting owners.
In more recent years, companies such as Warner Leisure and the Landmark Trust, have brought about a new use for country houses, enabling the public to stay in these magnificent buildings, whilst generating an income to support their maintenance and conservation. The evolution of the country house continues.
Since the days of masking problems with repairs that did more damage than good, knowledge of stone conservation has vastly improved, and many Stonemasonry firms now train their workforce not only in the traditional craft of Stonemasonry but also in Heritage and Conservation techniques, often including specialist Stone Conservators. This also means that traditional skills are kept alive, even with the help of modern tools and techniques.
This combination has brought about a turn around in the protection of our country’s heritage, and as such, important houses such as Holme Lacy will remain well maintained for years to come!