Alford Manor House Restoration 2004 - 2006


Moving 2004

The start date was 29th November, when Taskers of Boston brought equipment to secure the site, followed by the scaffolding firm which erected the fully supporting and enveloping scaffold. Further preparations then proceeded under cover, with restoration starting in earnest early in the New Year.
The removal of all remaining artefacts, office, kitchen fittings and furnishings was attended to as there is no access for any members after November 28th. 
Manor House was closed until Easter of 2006 while restoration work is being carried out.
keys handed over

The Keys handed over

The keys to the Manor House were handed over to Taskers of Boston by Bill Read, the chairman of the Alford Civic Trust.

Fencing was put around the grounds secure the site

Scaffolding arrived and the first poles were put in position.





The work included tree surgery and protection works, demolition of the rear porch, disconnection of services, hard standing, road alignment and site set up.

South Lincs Scaffolding erected the scaffolding to the front and rear of the property, and work on the scaffold roof should soon be completed. Fixed roof sheets were put in place, so that the Manor House was eventually be completely enveloped.

Stripping of the thatch commenced in the third week of January.




thatch removedThatch Removed

The thatch has been removed, save for the East Wing, where it has been decided to retain all but the lower four feet, as it is in still in good condition and as a memento of John Scholey's work. This area will need a fireproof master boarding on the underside. Some of the other reed has also been retained in bundles to be used towards the base coat over the rest of the roof. It will of course all be covered with a final coat of long straw.

The Reed plaster view panels will be retained: there may be another panel to view the thatch.
Keith Quantrill (thatcher) also advises that the roof ridge tiles should be fixed with copper wire for extra security.

The roof timbers and wall plates are all cleared of debris and exposed ready for inspection by Andy Allen, ELDC Planning Officer, and Jonathan Clark, the Archaeologist, who were both present for a site examination later that day.

The cross wing has a different eave level to the side wings, and this has led to severe decay of the wall plates, which are completely decomposed in places.

The front wall of the cross wing has moved to the extent that the attic floor joists no longer reach the wall plate, are supported only by a narrow 2x2 lathe which fixes the ceiling.

The fire insurance plaque has been noted and will stay in position, as it is not advisable to attempt to remove it as it is cast iron and may easily break.

As part of the new work new roof trusses will be made to carry the new roof and to leave as much of the old roof in situ as possible. New hand made bricks and the agreed mortars are being sourced for the rebuild of the gable ends and for other repairs.

Hard Hat Day 2005 March 19

This was an opportunity for interested people to view the progress of the restoration of the Manorhouse.

Members of the Council were there to help with supervision

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Alford Manor House Restoration 2005 May

Roger Budge Electrical have started working on the design drawings for the installation and these will be completed very shortly.
Roger Evans, the thatcher, is due to start work on the site mid to end of May.
Taskers, the main contractors, have made contact with Gartec the lift suppliers, and have given them a letter of intent, and they are now working on drawings for approval.
The roof coverings contractor has been to inspect the site and to talk to Taskers on the programme for their works.

thatch to startThatching Work Started

Work on the upstairs windows is now complete and that on the second floor ones nearly so. Work on the roof structure is now over and the thatching had been started. The back inside of the west wing is virtually complete, with top dressing. Two gazebos have been purchased to cover and keep dry the thatching materials. The electrician has started wiring the attic, using neat, copper sheathing, which is unobtrusive.. All the timber-work upstairs in the roof has been completed. The chimneys are now all finished and the scaffolding will be coming down from them this week.

Vandalism to the coach house is proving to be an expensive problem, so we shall submit a planning application for railings and security fencing at the front of the property. It is important that the £2 million investment is safeguarded, especially when we reopen in 2006.

Work is also being started on an outline plan to landscape and plant the gardens in keeping with a seventeenth century Manor House.

Our kitchens will also be refurbished, ready for next season: we shall be getting a dishwasher, stainless steel shelving for work surfaces, tables and open shelves, a wash-up sink, a cooker, a still for boiling water, and a water heater for the sink.

Bill ReadAlford Manor House Restoration Report

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING Thursday 7th July, 2005

Chairman's Opening Remarks

Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen and welcome to the Annual General Meeting of the Alford Civic Trust. I am pleased to report that the Restoration scheme of the Manor House is on schedule.

Those of you who were present at one of the site visits on the last Hard Hat Day will have seen at first hand the progress that has already been made. But for the rest of you, who must be wondering at what is actually going on underneath that monstrous covered scaffold...

The repairs to the framework of the roof are complete, though these have been more extensive than was originally envisaged. Most of the timbers of the 1960's renovations have been removed, and replaced with new pressure treated timbers which extend to the wall plates, much of which has been replaced with solid oak as a lot of the early ones had perished. On the south east side where the older timbers have been retained, they have been extended to bed onto the walls securely, and the whole is secured with stainless steel bolts and fixings to make a rigidly strong frame. This is all covered with a breathable solid light coloured membrane. When viewed from the attic floor from the inside of the building, this enhances those parts of the original roof which have been retained. Indeed, the effect is most dramatic as you will all discover for yourselves when restoration is complete.

The three chimney stacks, the sheer size and bulk of which have been so obvious whilst the roof was removed, have been rebuilt, as also have the gables on the front elevation. There are now pots on top which are designed to allow the chimneys to breathe but keep the weather out, essential as the fireplaces are no longer used. The central stack has been extended to match the outer two in height again. One of the more alarming discoveries has been that this central stack had incomplete foundations, which has involved some clever engineering and under pinning, all completed successfully by the team.

All the older cement repointing has been removed from the walls, exposing some rather large cracks in the structure as you have no doubt witnessed yourselves from the street. This is all being repointed with lime mortar, and sections of clay rooftree are being inserted in the wider cracks to give a more visually acceptable and stronger wall so that when complete, they should not be so noticeable. Quite a lot of this work has already been done, as have the repairs to the window frames.

Roger Evans, the thatcher, and his team are making good progress with the thatching. This was a most interesting part of the last Hard Hat Day. I for one was previously unaware that thatching in straw was a completely different technique to working in reed. The Manor House is being thatched in both, a layer of reed below the straw will assist the roof to breathe, and Roger is accomplished with both. He and his team are preparing and wetting the straw on the concrete base of the old scout hut at the rear of the site. By the time they have done this and carried some 40 tonnes of straw up ladders onto the roof they will have walked many a mile!

Internal works are proceeding: the lift room which replaces the C19 toilets at the back is under construction, and the new electrical circuits, which were exposed, will be in a very discrete copper tubing.

Plans for a revamped and professional working kitchen in stainless steel are proceeding. This will be of use for various functions and will ease the workload of the volunteers on whom the Trust depends.

So it all appears to be going well.

The scaffold could be coming down by the end of August, and the sheer magnificence of our old Manor will be revealed.

By the end of the year, the interior renovations should be complete, and a completely renovated House should be opening its doors again in the Spring of 2006.

We will then need a renovated Civic Trust to run the show. So it would seem that now is an appropriate time for me to stand down and let a fresh person lead the show. As is the way of the Alford Civic Trust, I will continue as Chairman for the remainder of this A G M. Grant Allan, without whom we would never have got this restoration scheme to work, I believe will be willing to take the helm at the next meeting of Council if they so desire and elect him to the post. He will then have a year to prove himself before being finally approved at next year's AGM.

He has already shown the capacity to revamp and reinvigorate the Trust, so I am sure you will all support him and be prepared to accept any change of direction that the Council propose.

We are about to have a completely renovated Manor House. This through the Heritage Lottery and other and local funds will have been paid for by the local and district community. It will be important that it is widely available for and used by them too.

I am not forgetting the existing members and officers of the Trust. They are all still busy beavering away behind the scenes, and you and I are eternally grateful. In particular, I would like to thank Michel, our President, Philip as Secretary, Bob as Treasurer, and Linda for Social and Membership, who have all had a lot of work to do. Also to rest of the Council and committee members who are keeping this show on the road. Please continue to support us all.

Thatching in Progress: 2005 August 19

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Inside Repairs: 2005 August 19


Alford Manor House Report: 2005 September 21

Thatched Roof and Internal Work

The roof has now been finished and looks wonderful. It has been covered in copper chicken wire, which will help prevent moss growth. The pointing has been touched up, and the painters have done the top windows on the third floor.

manorhouseInside, the top floors were all down, though not yet all complete on the second floor. The ceiling of the tea room has been tied in. More stripping of floors has taken place (especially of the middle room above the hallway). The ceiling of the upstairs attic rooms have held up well. A lime, cow hair and sand/plaster mix on hazel lathe have been used.. A cut-out through to the thatch has been made with a glass viewing panel.

There is a lot to do on the ground floor. The hallway floor is not being taken up, but there will be new flooring in the Tea Room. The top of the winding staircase has been completed. The rest of the roofing repairs will be done when the scaffolding comes down. The wiring has just about been finished.

Planning application has been made for the lightning conductor. The cat-hole door in the attic has been restored and put back where it was.



Alford Manor House Report: 2005 September 30 - Topping Out

Topping OutTopping Out

Friday 30th September was a Day To Remember for Alford's Ancient Manor house.
The Alford Civic Trust celebrated a major milestone with the ceremony of Topping Out.

unveilingTopping Out is traditionally when the builders reach the highest part of the roof and the last timber is nailed in place. A flag is raised on top of the building.

The Alford Civic Trust then broaches a barrel of beer for all those who have had a hand in the construction and restoration. This ceremony is a thank you to everyone involved with the project. The friends of Alford Manor House provided light refreshments for the guests and workers to go with the beer and other beverages.

This was the first opportunity to see the house emerge from its scaffolding cocoon in its magnificent restored state. Thank you to all supporters both large and small, we hope that you feel it has been all worth while, we most certainly do.


Alford Manor House Report: 2005 September 30


unveilingLocal people and heritage enthusiasts gathered in Alford, Lincolnshire on 2005 September 30 to watch the grand unveiling of the latest stage of improvements to the county's largest thatched house, Alford Manor House.

The 17th century, grade II listed house has been hidden in a shroud of scaffolding and protective sheeting for over eight months, whilst a £1.7m restoration scheme, largely funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund with support from several groups including English Heritage and the European Regional Development Fund, has been underway to protect and improve the town's most important historic building.

The 'topping-out' ceremony marks the completion of one of the most important stages of the project, work on the thatched roof, which has involved the hard work of teams of many skilled thatchers, consultants and architects specialising in historic buildings.

Prior to the work beginning on the house, its owners, Alford and District Civic Trust, ran it as a museum. Once the project is complete it will be brought back into community use as a museum again, this time focussing more on the history of the building and its construction.

unveilingSince the project began in November 2004, a new extension has been built, the roof has been stripped of all old reed thatch, which was put on in late 1960s, and the timber roof structures and chimneys have been repaired. Because of the building's unusual composite construction it has had structural problems since it was first built, so the main part of the work has been to carry out long-term repairs that will deal with these difficulties.
Other work has included the full re-pointing of all brickwork, repairs of historic joinery and internal floor structures, the installation of a new lift to make the building more accessible to the public and improved toilet facilities.

The project is planned for completion in November 2005 and remaining work includes internal finishing, decoration and the installation of rainwater goods, drainage and plumbing.

unveilingGrant Allan, Chairman of Alford Civic Trust, is really excited about how the project is progressing. He said: "Before the main work started we had an opening up contract to understand the building and its problems, which has worked very well. At that stage we also had an archaeological team from Field Archaeology Specialists, based at York University, to record and pontificate on the age of the building, its construction and plan form.

"Dendrochronological dating has shown that the main building was constructed around 1611, however it was altered later in the 17th century and parts of it were rebuilt during the 18th and 19th centuries. This research has formed the structure of how this restoration project has been carried out and it is wonderful to expose this magnificent thatched roof once again."


James Edgar, English Heritage Historic Buildings Inspector, said: "Alford Manor House is Lincolnshire's largest thatched manor house. It is a very important historic building both locally and nationally and is in the top 6-8% of historic buildings in the country. This project underlines the importance of the skills of specialist craftsmen, as without them this building could not be protected for future generations to enjoy. We look forward to seeing this building back in use by the community once again."

The Heritage Lottery Fund made the project possible with a grant of £1.3 million. Explaining the importance of the award HLF's regional manager Sheila Stone said, "We are delighted to restore this historic landmark and open it up for the community. As will as conserving an important heritage asset in Lincolnshire, the project will give the public much better access to the building and give them the opportunity to learn about its colourful history."


Alford Manor House Report: 2005 November

The progress report made to the Civic Trust Council stated that:

  • The work would be completed within the contract period.
  • All the electrics had been completed on the top floor and the second fix had been completed on the first floor.
  • Considerable digging had taken place on the site (of soakaways), and the foundations of a dwarf wall (to the west side of the property) had been discovered, parallel to the Park Road one.
  • An area had been built around the cellar, using engineering brick, to ensure its dryness.
  • The painters had completed all the ceilings and stripped away any anaglypter wall coverings.
  • The wallpaper restorer is due to come next week.
  • The joiners have started on the cover to the lift mechanism (the mechanism to be cleaned and oiled before the cover goes over it).
  • The charge for the electricity supply has been reduced from £27K to £19K.
  • The mechanisms necessary to operate the electric gates is being installed.
  • Provision for the electricity supply can only be completed once the suppliers know who the contractors will be.
  • All the kitchen equipment has been ordered (to be fitted at the end of the works).
  • Excess grant money can be used, with the agreement of our funding partners, to finance details mentioned in the original funding package: some examples cited are: the gates, railings, paving, gapping up hedges, regravelling paths, moving the blacksmiths' arch to a more suitable position, rebuilding and repositioning the kitchen garden wall, video systems around the house, audio handsets, an outside toilet in the Coach House, additional decoration to the Victorian wing.
  • We shall try to get a paved drop-off point for wheelchairs.
  • It was confirmed that the Craft Market and Jazz Festival would be able to go ahead and have access to the garden next summer.


Alford Manor House in the Spotlight for Christmas 2005


Alford Manor House: 2005 December 20th - Civic Trust Council Visit guided by Mary Anderson.  


Replacement of the concrete paving to the front and side of the House with natural stone.


The flooring is complete inside the house

fireplacefireplacefloormeat hookswallpaperwallpaper

The wallpaper specialist (one of the foremost in the country, who has done work for the Victoria and Albert Museum) has seen the wallpaper in the east end of the house and asserts that it is eighteenth century. She wants to submit a sample for possible reproduction and use in Keats' house in London. The wall beneath has revealed much interesting history: for example, evidence of a fire which occurred after the wall was papered.

cornerfloorfloorfloorframe workfloorwinding gearraftersviewplasterfloorstairs

Alford Manor House: 2006 February

viewingCivic Trust Council Visit guided by Mary AndersonALFORD Manor House is looking splendid in the centre of town - and it is expected to look even more magnificent once the gates and railings go up.

It will open to the public at Spring Bank Holiday but members of Alford Civic Trust will have a special tour of the building at the end of March. Interpretation boards will explain what renovations have taken place - and why.

There will also be a new logo for the Manor House to mark its new look.

An official opening of the Manor House is planned for Tuesday, June 13.

Alford Manor House: 2006 April 13

Guided Tours of the Manor House are planned for Spring Bank Holiday and subsequent Tuesdays and Fridays throughout the Summer.

A baby grand piano in full working order has been donated. This will be useful as it planned to open the Manor House as a venue for weddings and receptions. A full license has been obtained for the Manor House to serve liquor and as a performance venue.

Seats have been purchased for the Manor House. The cost has been covered by donations.

A couple of major working parties will need to be convened for two working weekends: Saturday and Sunday 13th and 14th May and Saturday and Sunday 20th and 21st May. They will be needed to tidy the place up, bring most of the building up to standard, creosoting, weed treating the new gravel and cobbles, grass cutting, clearing up debris and branches. FOAMH will prepared lunches for the working parties.

Very soon railings will be erected in the front of the Manor House.

nearly finishedfire placenearly finished fire placenearly finished stairsnearly finished floornearly finished fire placenearly finished fire placenearly finished cornernearly finishednearly finished roofnearly finishednearly finished stairsnearly finished

Alford Manor House Open for Spring Bank Holiday

2006 May 27 - 29

Alford Manorhouse openAlford Manor House was open to the public for Spring Bank Holiday (2006 May 27 -29) after two years of restoration work. Very little furniture and artifacts are in place. It was the House itself including the original roof structure, that was be on show.

After the official opening on 2006 June 13, the Manor House will open to the public on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Civic trust chairman, Grant Allan said: "There is an all-singing, all-dancing stainless steel kitchen to service the tea rooms, and we hope to buy a new marquee to seat up to 120 guests for receptions. It will be much more than a folk museum and there is a new lift to take disabled visitors up to the first floor."

The house will have a new role in Alford and be used more by the town. It is licensed for civil weddings.

Sarah Blair-Manning, from Spilsby, has been appointed as house manager, to promote the work of the house.


Alford Manor House Open: 2006 June 13

Alford Manor House was officially opened on 2006 June 13 after two years of restoration work.

Very little furniture and artifacts are in place. It is the House itself including the original roof structure, that is on show. It is licensed for civil weddings.

The Manor House open to the public on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Michel Ducos, President of the Alford Civic Trust, introduces the Grand Opening. Cllr. Grant Allan, Chairman of the Alford Civic Trust, gives a brief history of the Restoration process.

Michel Ducos, President of the Alford Civic Trust, introduces the Grand Opening.

Cllr. Grant Allan, Chairman of the Alford Civic Trust, gives a brief history of the Restoration process.



London Mozart Players played Purcell, Bach and Mozart.

Alford Manor House Site Foreman, presented with a commemorative mug by Mr. Roger Douglas, the High Sheriff of Lincolnshire


Mrs.Mary Cawthorpe unveils the garden benchDavid Brailsford, President of the Alford and Mablethorpe Rotary Club, unveils the garden bench donated by the Club

Mrs.Mary Cawthorpe unveils the garden benchwhich is in memory of Bill Cawthorpe, a former chairman of the Alford Civic Trust.

David Brailsford, President of the Alford and Mablethorpe Rotary Club unveils the garden bench donated by the Club.

The ribbons are cut by Cllr. Colin Helstrip, Chairman of L.C.C., Cllr. Dr. Lawrence Taffender, chairman of ELDC and Cllr. Sarah Devereux, Mayor of Alford.The Manor House is open!

The ribbons are cut by Cllr. Colin Helstrip, Chairman of L.C.C., Cllr. Dr. Lawrence Taffender, chairman of ELDC and Cllr. Sarah Devereux, Mayor of Alford.

The Manor House is open!


The Manor House is openTea and scones

The Manor House is open!


Michel Ducos shows visitors 18th Century wallpaperMichel Ducos shows visitors evidence of a past fire that damaged the beams.

Michel Ducos shows visitors 18th Century wallpaper

Michel Ducos shows visitors evidence of a past fire that damaged the beams.


Philip Masters shows visitors the ancient beams.old roof structure.

Philip Masters shows visitors the ancient beams and the original lift mechanism.


earlier thatching.old roof structure

Philip Masters shows visitors earlier thatching and the old roof structure.


  opening  philip mastersand grant allanopening

Philip Masters (Secretary) and Cllr. Grant Allan (Chairman)


Alford Manor House: 2006 July 13

Alford Manor House railings put in place

Alford Manor House railings put in placeAlford Manor House railings put in place

Alford Manor House railings put in placeAlford Manor House railings put in place