The Palladian style manor at the heart of the Estate has seen a variety of changes to its internal and external structure over the last three centuries, and is one of many building and features across the Estate that are in need of continuous attention and care. From our paintwork, to paintings, to the built structure of the hall, we are continuously raising funds to conserve Kelmarsh wherever it is needed.
As an independent charitable trust, we don’t receive support from the government and all the funds we raise, through admission and events, are invested back into the hall and the vital conservation work to protect the estate into the future. The Kelmarsh Trust has been caring for the hall since 1997, and in that time we have completed a variety of vital projects to protect the hall for future generations thanks to our visitors, donations and grants.
In 2018, Kelmarsh Hall and Gardens officially opened over a dozen new, interactive spaces which have never been accessible to the public, thanks to a £1.3 million pounds grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Our servants’ quarters, bake house, butler’s pantry and laundry rooms have all been conserved to bring the stories of those living ‘Below Stairs’ to the forefront of learning about life in a country house.
In 2015, our significant example of 20th century interior paintwork was restored. A four-month project was completed to the interior decoration by John Fowler. Paint conservators were 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. This 20th century decoration left much of the 18th century plasterwork untouched.
The formerly derelict 18th century Orangery in the grounds of the Hall was officially opened in December 2014, after building work commenced eight months earlier in April to restore the structure. The Orangery can be enjoyed by all the visitors to the Hall, as they journey through the gardens and as part of the landscape as they approach the east facade of the Hall.
The Orangery was salvaged in 1954 by former Kelmarsh Hall owner Colonel CG Lancaster when Brixworth Hall was demolished, located under 10 miles away. When it was in-situ 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.
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 to secure the built structure of the hall. 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.
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 as well as providing a renewable energy source for the buildings. The £200,000 project by Ecovision Renewable Energy will see Kelmarsh's reliance on oil cut by at least 6%. Previously, Kelmarsh was using about 50,000 litres of oil a year, at a cost of around £25,000.
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.
Thank you to the following organisations and individuals for their financial support of Kelmarsh's efforts to preserve and protect the heritage of the site. Without their contributions, the vital work to protect the building would have been impossible to complete to the high-quality standards seen when visiting Kelmarsh today: