The Mobile Heritage Lab has pitched up at the Vyne as the roof of the National Trust property receives substantial conservation work. The Vyne is a historic country house near Basingstoke in Hampshire; a handsome mixture of 16th century Tudor brickwork and later classical additions. After the winter storms of 2013 uncovered some major leaks the trust decided to initiate a £5.4 million conservation project, the biggest in over 150 years. As well as restoring rotting timber trusses, repairing lead flashings, replacing decayed stone coping and re-tiling the entire roof, this involves the systematic reconstruction of some of the taller chimney stacks, which had begun to lean precipitously. Replacement materials – bricks, stones, slate and tiles (all 71,000 of them!) – were chosen to match the historic fabric as they aged.
Heritage science has played an important role not only in the analysis of materials, but also in engaging the public. The building site has been open to the public during the entire project, with a raised walkway in the scaffolding displaying the changing roofscape from a bird’s eye perspective. For the busy spring and summer months of this year, the Oxford Rock Breakdown Laboratory and its SEAHA affiliated students have been spending some weekends on site. With the Mobile Heritage Lab parked in the gardens of the Vyne, visitors have had a chance to come inside and try out a number of scientific instruments used by OxRBL to diagnose and quantify building decay. SEAHA students have spoken to an interested public about the work going on at the Vyne and their own doctoral research. The final public engagement weekend will take place on the 1st and 2nd of July.
Header Image: Credit: Martin Michette