Replica Roman villa restoration fund gets a £25,000 grant

The Roman VIlla at 
Butser Ancient Farm
The Roman VIlla at Butser Ancient Farm

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A REPLICA ancient villa is now one step closer to undergoing a restoration project.

Butser Ancient Farm in Chalton Lane, Waterlooville, has been awarded a £25,000 grant from East Hampshire District Council to help fund the refurbishment of its Roman villa.

Director Muareen Page

Director Muareen Page

The farm’s £100,000 fundraising bid started in August last year, when bosses deemed the villa to be too worn-down for visitors to appreciate how Romans lived 2,000 years ago.

Director Maureen Page said: ‘The villa was built as a replica, and was finished back in 2003 –since then it has seen a tremendous amount of wear and it is looking a bit tired.

‘We are going to improve the surfaces on the walls, and then put some fresco paintings on the top, which are permanent wall decorations that were very popular at the time.

‘One of the things we are most excited about changing is the doorways. Currently, we have two doorways to the villa and although they are historically accurate, they are too small for many wheelchairs to get through.

The villa was built as a replica, and was finished back in 2003 - since then it has seen a tremendous amount of wear and it is looking a bit tired.

Maureen Page, director

‘We’re only expanding it by a couple of centimetres but it will make a massive difference.’

So far, Butser Ancient Farm has raised £2,000, which will go towards sandblasting the wooden beams that preserve the villa’s structural integrity.

However, this grant from the council will allow the group to raise parts of the ceiling, redecorate the walls and level out the earth floor.

The funding will also pay for the disabled facilities to be added to the villa.

During the restoration process, builders will be teaching the Butser staff and volunteers the skills they need to maintain the site themselves.

These traditional skills will then also be shown to members of the public in workshops.

The villa itself is based on the original excavation of a Roman villa in Sparsholt, near Winchester, and represents what life would be like for the ordinary citizen living in the Roman era.

Mrs Page said the Roman villa is an integral part of Butser Ancient Farm.

She said: ‘The villa is really important because it allows people to have an insight into what everyday life was for us.

‘Many other places that have been preserved are special sites, like palaces and the like.

‘Furthermore, we use the villa throughout the year – and not just for school visits or as part of regular tours of the farm.

‘It is a huge part of our Beltain festival, which is a Celtic celebration at the beginning of summer; we’re planning to have as much of the work done as we can before then.’

The total cost of all planned renovations is £100,000, with work due to begin in February.