Charity restores Grade II listed Old Bedhampton tower to its former glory

From left, Chris Allen from Emsworth Plastering, project manager Richard Pratt, Guy Richardson from Richardson Decorating Contractors from Gosport and Alan Bailey of Alba Plastercraft in Lee-on-the-Solent, next to the restored tower Picture: Sarah Standing (151812-8234)
From left, Chris Allen from Emsworth Plastering, project manager Richard Pratt, Guy Richardson from Richardson Decorating Contractors from Gosport and Alan Bailey of Alba Plastercraft in Lee-on-the-Solent, next to the restored tower Picture: Sarah Standing (151812-8234)

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  • The Elms is a fine example of Strawberry Hill Gothic
  • But Waterloo Tower had fallen into disrepair
  • Trust told they must restore it
  • Work is complete and it looks stunning once again
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A STUNNINGLY restored 200-year-old Grade II listed tower has been unveiled.

The Elms is a 17th century Grade II-listed manor house, in Old Bedhampton, owned by the charity Manor Trust which provides housing for retired people.

The Waterloo Tower in July this year during the restoration

The Waterloo Tower in July this year during the restoration

The Waterloo Tower, which sits on top of the stunning Waterloo banqueting hall, was in urgent in of restoration. Mouldings, paint and render were in a sorry state and the trustees, as the owners of the building, were at risk of being taken to court unless work was carried out soon.

After managing to raise £2,500 through donations the trustees dipped into the charity’s coffers to pay the remaining £23,000 for the repairs.

And Richard Pratt, vice president of the Manor Trust, said: ‘It looks wonderful.

‘It’s clean and bright and, although I wasn’t around to see it 200 years ago, it looks as good as new.’

It’s clean and bright and, although I wasn’t around to see it 200-years-ago, it looks as good as new

Richard Pratt

The reason the tower needed restoring is because, many years ago, it was painted with impervious waterproof paint – which was the worst thing that could have been used.

Mr Pratt said: ‘Roman cement and lime render must be able to breathe.

‘Once it started deteriorating it accelerated rapidly.

‘The paint was peeling, the underneath lime render and the Roman cement cracked and fell off. The mouldings chipped. It was in a sorry state.’

The conservation officer from Havant Borough Council warned the trustees that, because it is Grade II star listed – meaning it is a building of special interest – they had to get it restored or they could be taken to court.

‘We were obligated to do the work but it wasn’t easy,’ said Mr Pratt.

‘It seemed that every conservator we approached was either too big, too far away or thought the job was too small to interest them.

‘In the end I project-managed it myself and identified three great companies with the specific skills we required.’

The plaster mouldings were restored by Alba Plastercraft of Lee-on-the-Solent, the lime rendering by Emsworth Plastering and decoration by Richardson Decorating Contractors of Gosport.

In 1828 the former owner, of The Elms, minor aristocrat Theophilus Lee, commissioned a stunning banqueting hall to mark the Duke of Wellington’s victory at the Battle of Waterloo.

The next project is to restore the decoration to its former glory. Go to manortrust.org.uk