Alfriston Clergy House, A grade II* listed timber hall built in the 14th century, was the first built property to be acquired by the National Trust. It was purchased in 1896 for the grand total of £1.The significance of the modest wealden hall structure is drawn from its status as the first building saved for the nation by the National Trust and the role it plays within the organisation’s early history.
If the efforts to purchase and restore it had failed it is quite possible that the National Trust may never have acquired another building again! It follows that such a nationally significant and much-loved ancient property requires diligent and conscientious custodianship. Happily, as well-established timber scientists and building pathologists, H+R were ideally suited to conduct a full condition survey of the property and to give ‘best possible practice’ remedial advice as to its ongoing preservation.
The aim of this investigation was to identify timber decay and condition issues or relevant building defects to the historic listed property and to give recommendations on any remedial works required to correct such problems and prevent damp or decay problems in the future using environmental means.
How we solved the problem
H+R undertook a detailed top-down survey of the property using a multitude of traditional and cutting-edge surveying techniques including thermography, drones, fibreoptic borescopes, resistance drilling and deep moisture probing. Through testing and sampling of representative and vulnerable locations, we were able to build-up a detailed picture of the timber frames condition and points of vulnerability.
Detailed CAD drawings were created of all elevations, trusses and frames in order that H+Rs findings could be clearly identified and bespoke remedial recommendations were prescribed to individual defects. From H+Rs survey the National Trust were capable of meticulously planning and budgeting for the next ~10 years of conservation strategy in order to best safe guard the property for future generations to enjoy.