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The Restoration of Ordsall Hall
Between February 2009 and May 2011, Ordsall Hall enjoyed a complete restoration and redevelopment, thanks to the generosity of funding bodies and individuals from across the United Kingdom.
Before money was secured to sustain its future, the hall was falling into disrepair with the roof in a bad state and historically significant rooms being completely inaccessible.
Costing just under £6.5 million, the Extraordinary Ordsall Hall Project allowed new life to be breathed into the old timbers of the hall. In terms of building restoration and conservation, activity included work on all architectural elements of the hall including the roof, woodwork, stained glass, plaster, stoneware, terracotta and paint.
Why is Ordsall Hall so special?
The hall represents the continual evolution and use of an almost unique building from the fourtheenth century to the modern day and is one of the finest records of construction techniques and materials of its kind in the North West of England.
Ordsall Hall is only of only eight comparable, Grade 1 listed, timber-framed, large houses in Lancashire and one of only three which retains significant fourteenth century fabric.
The hall contains a number of nationally significant rooms and architectural features, including:
- The East Wing, some of which dates back to the 1360s. This also contains rare, surviving examples of medieval domestic apartments which makes it especially significant
- The Great Hall - one of the largest, open, timber framed halls in the North West
- Quatrefoils (four leaf repeating pattern found on the Tudor interior and exterior of the hall). These are more usually associated with halls in the South East of England. Ordsall Hall appears to have set a fashion in the North for the quatrefoil pattern when it had it emblazoned on the interior and exterior of its Great Hall in 1512
- Six, medieval pieces of armorial stained glass
- The Italian Plaster Ceiling Room - As its name suggests, the main feature of this room is a rare plaster ceiling of Italianate 'lozenge' design. Never before seen by the public, the ceiling has been carefully restored to its original 1500s appearence
- Restored medieval paintwork depicting pomegranates and oak leaves on the roof brace in the Great Chamber. Pomegranates were an early symbol of unity and fertility, with oak leaves being used to represent strength of faith
Overall objective of the restoration project
The objective of the project was to allow the hall to be fit for purpose for the next 800 years.
The team involved also wanted to use the hall's own distinctive and unique building features to tell its story. A story of which only a small part had been properly told before.
As part of this, the following objectives were reached:
- The installation of 2 lifts to allow unlimited access for all to every part of the hall
- The opening up of the previously unseen and unused roof space and upper floor of the medieval East Wing
- The restoration and conservation of the unique, sixteenth century Italian plaster ceiling room that had suffered years of decay and bad maintenance
- The complete restoration of six medieval, armorial stained glass panels that had languished in both dust and pieces for many years in Salford Heritage's stores
- The complete restoration and conservation of medieval paintwork
- The stripping back of Victorian blackened wood throughout the building to reveal sixteenth century honey-coloured oak beams beneath, replete with original carpentry marks. This has resulted in the entire internal and external appearance of the hall altering, for the positive
Strategy for implementation
Because of the significance of the building and site all repairs, maintenance and general conservation work were carried out in compliance with best conservation principles. Formalized policies were drawn up to guide this process. These included the focus on retaining as much of the original material as possible and to pursue a policy of minimum intervention to the historic fabric.
On all aspects, workmanship of the highest standard was expected and delivered. Original materials, or those as close to the originals as possible, were used. For example, lime and hair were key ingredients in the restoration of the Italian Plaster Ceiling, air dried English Oak was used in the timber frame repairs, and mud and daub dug out from the grounds of the hall were used to replicate the mix of the West Wing roofspace trusses.
Wireless technology was used for elements such as a the fire alarm to avoid visually intrusive cabling.
The hall offers a true and honest interpretation of building styles over the centuries. We have kept everything - from medieval wattle and daub to 1970s concrete lintels - to allow the visitor to read the true development of the building over time.
Accessible specialist reports
Reports were produced for the project by a number of specialists. You can access a range of these by viewing our downloadable documents section.
- Archaeology report (Adobe PDF format, 277kb)
- Ordsall Hall Gazetteer (Adobe PDF format, 9.14mb)
- Conservation Management Plan (Adobe PDF format, 30.9mb)
- Ordsall Hall Stage 2 Stained Glass report (Adobe PDF format, 16.7kb)
- Hirst Conservation - Paintwork final treatment report (Adobe PDF format, 3.2mb)
- YJA Conservation - The Conservation of the Plasterworks of Ordsall Hall (Adobe PDF format, 1.29mb)