Hampton Court Palace

Next on the conservation trail was Hampton Court Palace, where the group enjoyed a tour of the impressive roof. The palace started its life as a grand barn with a stone camera (room) that was used in 1236 by the Knights Hospitallers of St John Jerusalem as somewhere to store produce and keep their accounts. Excavations show that the original palace lacked any real residential accommodation. The building, as it stands today, is a mixture of Medieval, Tudor and Baroque architecture. Henry VIII, the palace’s most infamous resident, actually seized the palace from Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. Wolsey had acquired the small manor house on the Hampton Court Palace site in 1514 and built a luxurious palace around it.

Hampton Court Palace roof conservation

Hampton Court Palace roof conservation

Our Scholars and Fellows were introduced to the building’s crumbling Reigate stone (half limestone/sandstone) and the on-site team taught them how to brush away the friable pieces or protect the stone with a lime shelter coat. It is not just modern surveyors who find Reigate stone problematic, in 1713 Sir Christopher Wren described it: ‘That which is to be most lamented, is the unhappy Choice of Materials, the Stone is decayed four inches deep, and falls of [sic] perpetually in great scales.’

The group also learned how to save the live lime ceilings with polyester resin and fibreglass tape. The beautiful diaper (criss-cross) pattern brickwork was dyed to increase the contrast. Andrew Harris, the architect on site, gave them magnets to test the Tijou railings to discern the newer materials from the old. The older railings were made of iron, whereas copper and brass have been used as replacements. Lead paint with linseed oil and turpentine was applied to protect the railings.

Learn more about the conservation work going on at Hampton Court Palace on their website.

Historic Royal Palaces, Hampton Court Palace. Andrew Harris of Martin Ashley Associates: architect, CWO: contractor, William Page: surveyor for Historic Royal Palaces; Clive Dawson: Engineer. Photo from Ross Perkin

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