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Steepwood Bungalow, Adversane Lane, Billinghurst
West Sussex
United Kingdom


Historic Building Conservation Matters Blog

Find out about what we've been doing at HBC&R and our thoughts on building conservation matters.


Roland Locke

In the last few months we have been working on a number of widely differing historic properties.

Over the summer we completed the work on the fabulous, fourteenth century,former open hall house and we were delighted with the finished result. The owners were equally pleased and have invited us back to do more work next spring. It is always a source of great pride for us to get to return to a building we have worked on and continue the conservation. With its newly finished exterior, carefully returned to its former glory, we like to think that the house would now be once more be recognisable  to former medieval occupents We are also honoured that the current owners have allowed us to make their Peaselake home our flagship property.Pictures with the lovely new lime wash will follow shortly1

We have done brick work repairs to two later but listed of historic importance, homes in Chobham and Brockham. Both had suffered from inappropriate cementitious repairs that had caused further spalling of the bricks and the damage had resulted in water ingress. Neither were our usual line of work but both still required the relevant skills and techniques to conserve them and as a result the houses now look much improved and have happy owners.

Then we have done brick and timber repairs, to the only remaining historic section of a purportedly seventeenth century house which has been a bit of an anigma,we had been unsure of its true origins within moments of beginning our original condition survey earlier in the year. During the initial stages of work, we began to suspect even more strongly that what we were conserving was far more likely to be later, probably early eighteenth century and had most likely  begun its life as a barn! Whilst removing some large chunks of cement in one extreme upper gable end, I found a considerable quantity of wheat on the stalk, barley on the stalk and hay. which did lend weight to the barn theory. As I worked on the removal of cement to the brick panel margins, stave mortices and mullion holes were revealed in some of the under sides of timbers and a bricked up former window. I love making little discoveries like that! Clearly there had been wattle and daub panels at some point, although not necessarily in that building as a lot of the timbers were re used. The brick panels were mainly of a herringbone design, which was nice to re build where required. The timbers, were repaired by removing as little material as possible or patch and surface repairs. With new appropriate, non hydraulic lime mortar and margins, the rear of the house is looking great again. Another job well done and more happy clients.

Where have we been?

Roland Locke

Hello to all those of you who are fortunate to own one of our nations wonderful,historic houses and those of you who dream of doing so.....we're back!

Over the last year (can it really be that long) I have had the privilege to work on some truly lovely homes, from a rambling, grade two star listed, moated manor set amid its own gorgeous gardens, to a cute, two up two down cottage perched next to a road. What amazes me, is that every historic building we work on has its own character and charm and of course its quirks. Uneven floors, no straight walls, low ceilings, to name but a few. Yet like the thousands of people, likewise under the spell of the history, in an old house. I never grow tired of the journey of discovery, that comes with the job.

One day we might be basking in tropical sunshine and the next, shivering as rain drips onto us, as we try to stay dry underneath a flapping tarpaulin. But we can honestly say....we love it! At the moment we are finishing off on one job, where we have made our largest window to date. An impressive 3.2 metres by 3.7. It looks fantastic and we are justly proud of our hard work! Then we are returning to the oldest house we have worked on so far....Built around 1400, it incredibly still has much of the original daub panels still intact, complete with smoke blackened hazel wattles., from when it was an open hall, with a fire in the centre of the floor!I I find it so fantastic, to consider the history which has gone on around this house in its six hundred year plus existence and it delights me see the history unfolding before my eyes as we work. 

Do I have broken finger nails and an aching back? AT the end of the day,do I mostly go home covered in lime mortar, brick dust or soot? The answer is yes of course I do. 

Would I change it for a regular job? No, I love my work! Who can say as I do, my work is a joy, a privilege and quite simply, the best job in the world.




Crondall mid smoke bay Cottage

Roland Locke

We are currently working on what I believe may be a late mid smoke bay house.

This cottage was I believe built towards the end of the smoke bay building period. The smoke bay was never used and in fact a chimney was inserted within the smoke bay.

we are currently working on the end gable structural timbers and panels where there is some fairly major deterioration of the timbers.

work on Shell bridge

Roland Locke

This design of this bridge has been attributed to Caperbility Brown however this is unconfirmed. But it was once owned by the world speed record holder Donald Cambell. 

The bridge was once set in formal grounds but now is surrounded by a wilderness and haven for wildlife. It spans a tributary of the River Mole in Leatherhead and joins two islands.

We have been doing some urgent repair work which include renewing one side of the bridges coping and brickwork repairs, all in lime mortar.

The work is complete now and it will be another 50 years before more maintenance is required.

All change!

Roland Locke

We have now completed the work to Shell Bridge in Leatherhead and Daniel moves onto re-point a chimney near Chichester.

We have now completed the work to the Wealden cottage in Hurstpierpoint and myself, Neil and Molly move on to work on a mid smokebay cottage in Crondall, Hampshire.