Recent conservation projects

Great Hall Re-Decoration


A four-month project is under way to restore a significant example of interior decoration by John Fowler. Paint conservators are cleaning, repairing and restoring the paintwork in the Great Hall and South Stairs. The Great Hall was designed by James Gibbs in the early 18th century, decorated by former owner and society decorator
Nancy Lancaster in the early 1930s, and subsequently redecorated by John Fowler in the 1950s.

The restoration of the Great Hall has been the subject of much discussion in recent years - in November 2012, Kelmarsh Hall Trustees invited a panel of experts to discuss the future of the Great Hall in front of an audience of interested parties. A decision was taken with the Local Authority’s Conservation Officer to conserve the current Nancy Lancaster/John Fowler scheme.

Read more here.


‘Below Stairs’ Restoration and Education Project

Plans are well under way to transform the derelict underground area of Kelmarsh Hall to transform it into a unique education resource. Kelmarsh Hall received £1.2m from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the project, entitled Tunnelling Through the Past: Life Below Stairs in a Country House. 

Dating back to 1800, the basement of the main house contains a butler’s pantry, brew house, wine cellar, bakehouse and footman’s bedroom. A separate laundry block includes a wash house along with ironing and fuel rooms. While some of the areas are in extremely poor condition, some well-preserved original cupboards and fittings remain. These, along with other features from different phases of occupation, will be retained and conserved, starting with the laundry area. 

Once the project is complete, it will provide a valuable education resource for both visiting school groups and general visitors. For instance, families will be able to take part in fabric and textile activities in the laundry area, or have a go at bread-making in the bakehouse. 


Read more here.

Restoration of the Orangery

Work is now complete on the restoration of the formerly derelict 18th century Orangery in the grounds of the Hall. The Orangery was salvaged in 1954 by former Kelmarsh Hall owner Colonel CG Lancaster when Brixworth Hall was demolished. When it was located at Brixworth it was listed on English Heritage’s National Monuments Record in 1945 and the Orangery is now the only publicly accessible remnant from Brixworth Hall. Its restoration ensures that it can be enjoyed by the public once again. Not only does it offer a community space for local groups and organisations, it is the perfect venue for a special celebration or small wedding. 

A New Roof for Kelmarsh Hall

Work to replace the roof of Kelmarsh Hall was completed at Easter 2013, marking the end of one of the biggest projects undertaken in its history. The project, which was funded by the Kelmarsh Trust, included the removal of existing slates, the strengthening of the structural timber and repairs to the stone work. The existing Westmoreland green slates were replaced like for like and original building techniques were employed, such as pegging the slates instead of nailing them. 

The opportunity was taken to have the roof timbers dated using dendrochronology and it was discovered that a quantity of the wood was re-used from the hall’s predecessor, a 17th century manor house building that was originally part of the Northamptonshire estate.

Renewable Energy – Water Source Heat Pump

In 2012, Kelmarsh Hall became one of the first historic houses in the county to install a water source heat pump to help conserve the building and its contents.

The renewable energy system is now in place, ensuring that the Grade I listed hall will be heated to a constant temperature throughout the winter months, which is vital in protecting the fabric of the building and its chattels. The system, funded by energy company E.ON, sources heat from the estate’s lake. Coils of pipe containing an environmentally friendly fluid have been submerged in the lake: this fluid travels around the collectors and takes low-grade heat from the water to the heat pump situated in the basement of the hall. 

The £200,000 project by Ecovision Renewable Energy will see Kelmarsh’s reliance on oil cut by at least 60%. Previously, Kelmarsh was using about 50,000 litres of oil a year at a cost of around £25,000.  


Thank you to the following organisations and individuals for their financial support of Kelmarsh projects:

Garfield Weston Foundation 
Museum Development East Midlands
Heritage Lottery Fund
The Big Lottery 
The Finnis Scott Foundation 
The Rothermere Foundation 
The Leslie Church Memorial Trust 
John Lancaster
Mrs Patricia Black

• The Sylvia Waddilove Foundation
• The Idlewild Trust
• Heritage Conservation Trust





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