Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Preserving Leeds Castle: The Gloriette Masonry Repairs

You may have noticed that scaffolding has started to be put up around the Gloriette. As part of the on-going preservation work undertaken by the Leeds Castle Charitable Foundation, a restoration project is taking place this winter and again next winter requiring a major programme of stonework repair, replacing up to 30% of the stone and pointing with lime mortar.

The Gloriette (or Keep) dates in part from the late 13th century and is the oldest part of the main castle building. It was erected in the 1280s by Edward I on the foundations of the original 12th century stronghold, and is built on a D-shaped footprint, following the outline of the small island on which it sits. At that time it would have been a mostly single-storey structure built around a central courtyard and with internal walls of timber. In the 16th century the upper floor was added to the Gloriette when a suite of royal apartments were prepared for Henry VIII.

In the 1660s the Gloriette was severely damaged by fire and had partially collapsed, before its fortunes were transformed by Fiennes Wykeham Martin who rebuilt it as part of his major restoration of the castle in 1822.

1660s Fire - arson by Dutch Prisoners of War 

The Gloriette just prior to the 1822 restoration
The Gloriette is built of ragstone, a local stone which is very soft. Weather and the passage of time impact on buildings of this age and they need attention at regular stages during their history.

The railway line used for the 1927 restoration
The restoration project will cost nearly £1.7 million, funded by our visitors. Universal StoneLtd. a company with much experience in restoring heritage buildings will carry out the work for us.

We very much hope the project will not inconvenience you during your visit and are grateful to you all for your support, without which preservation of these great buildings would not be possible. 

The Leeds Castle Foundation exists to preserve Leeds Castle for the benefit of the public. If you would like to help us, there are donation boxes around the estate or you can donate by texting LCGH01 plus amount to 70070.

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