Cliveden Conservation recognised by the Oxford Preservation Trust Awards

6th March 2017

The Oxford Preservation Trust have announced the roof repairs of the Great Hall at Christ Church as a plaque winner in the category of building conservation at their 2016 awards ceremony. As part of the award, Cliveden Conservation along with the engineers Solid Structures were both acknowledged for their contribution to the project.

The much admired 16th-century ceiling of the Great Hall at Christ Church, University of Oxford, which featured in Harry Potter films, was in serious jeopardy again, having survived a fire in 1720, it now faced death-watch beetle decay. Cliveden Conservation worked alongside Solid Structures to repair the roof of this important historic building.

An extensive survey carried out by Cliveden Conservation revealed that the huge open timber hammerbeam roof built by Humphrey Coke, Henry VIII’s chief carpenter, had not only serious woodworm and rot, a timber roof purlin had become loose. A birdcage scaffold was erected over the entire dining hall which allowed the college to continue using the hall whilst the repair work took place. Further investigation revealed lots of missing and disconnected elements plus additional purlin repairs.

Cliveden Conservation worked with Solid Structures to create bespoke structural brackets to reinforce the roof before carefully reconnecting the junctions of the principle trusses and hammer beams. Every inch of the timber was cleaned and waxed by the specialist conservation team including all the decorative painted bosses, shields, and heads.

Professor Malcolm Airs, Vice President of the Oxford Preservation Trust and Chairman of the awards panel, praised the high quality of workmanship in his speech at the awards;

“Apart from its newly cleaned and bright decorative finish, the result is sublimely invisible – which is just as it ought to be. This was an exemplary conservation project.”

Cliveden Conservation was also mentioned by chartered surveyors Hall & Ensom in their award-winning entry which listed all the principal contractors involved in the restoration of Trinity College Chapel. This project was awarded joint plaque winner of the building conservation category alongside the roof repairs of the Great Hall at Christ Church.

The awards, which are sponsored by Kemp and Kemp Property Consultants and Critchleys chartered accountancy, celebrate ‘Keeping the best of the old and encouraging the best of the new’.

“We are all so lucky to live in this great city and the awards are our favourite annual Oxford Preservation Trust event,” says Debbie Dance, Director of the Oxford Preservation Trust. “Now in their 39th year, they are our way of recognising the projects that make such a positive contribution to Oxford, and some of the skilled craftsmen (people) behind them.”

Oxford Preservation Trust is a charity dedicated to positive regeneration, conserving history for future generations and increasing public access and enjoyment of Oxford for everyone.