11.03.2021

Award-winning Wythenshawe Hall encounters further success

Grade II* listed Wythenshawe Hall has been successful in winning the AABC Conservation Award at the 2021 Civic Trust Awards.

Wythenshawe Hall sits in registered parkland in South Manchester. The two-storey oak-framed core dates from the 1540s and was originally home to the Tattons, one of the north west’s great noble families.

In 2016 the Hall was subject to an arson attack and was badly damaged in the ensuing fire. There was significant damage to the oldest, most significant parts of the building, travelling up into
the roof-space and bell-tower. Given the urgency to respond, the project brief was a collaborative process which was clarified and developed, as the building and its condition were assessed and understood.

Core to the approach to every step of the project has been the conservation philosophy; bespoke to the building, its significance, and responding to the fingerprint left by the fire. Early listed
building consent was granted against the outline conservation philosophy, and detailed drawings for restoration were produced and discharged as planning conditions to support progress. An
unusual step in reaction to the unique circumstances of the project.

The work was approached in phases over 3 years. An initial six-week period of emergency response secured the temporary envelope, made the building weathertight and allowed for damage
assessment. The building was then allowed to dry and stabilise, preventing further deterioration of the historic fabric.

Buttress were on site for two years restoring the external envelope and restoring interior detail. Key spaces badly damaged included the ground and first floor principal rooms of the hall with decorative wooden panelling, ornate plasterwork ceilings, leaded lights and wall paintings. The roof space and clock tower were largely destroyed. The building was re-roofed in slate, new structural oak frames crafted to replace those lost and external lime plaster walls reinstated. Material choices were informed by the historic fabric and suitability to building type and period. Some inappropriate replacements such as concrete tiled roofs and Perspex windowpanes were reversed, and appropriate replacements designed.

Internal works have included restoring wooden panelling, cleaning the charred surface and re-polishing. Decorative plasterwork ceilings have had centuries of paint peeled back and lost detail
replicated in lime plaster. Wall Paintings have been assessed by specialists and stabilised. Stained glass windows melted by the fire have been hand crafted, replacing lost panels with new,
incorporating as much original glass as possible.

A simple colour palette unifies the building, informed by paint analysis and gives more flexibility to the use of spaces moving forwards. All consultants involved in the project took an active role in engaging with the community, local services, educational and interest groups; with 44 social value activities delivered over the course of three years. The team also sought to provide, wherever possible, employment and supply chain opportunities. By project completion 64% of labour was sourced from within a 30-mile radius from the site, while a number of local and regional businesses have been engaged to provide materials and services to aid the restoration.

“Impressive disaster relief project with a pragmatic and informed approach taken to repair” Judges’ Comments

Conservation Architect – Buttress
Structural Engineer – Thomasons
Main Contractor – Conlon Construction
Client – Manchester City Council

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