Crown post in the attic

This autumn we are delighted to partner with Surrey Domestic Building Research Group for a volunteer project to find out more about how the manor house developed. This project is part of Heritage Without Barriers: our National Lottery Heritage funded programme. 

Chair of DBRG, Martin Higgins, tells us more:

"Throughout the centuries the owners of West Horsley Place have sought to hide out-of-date features and introduce fashionable ones. The building recording project seeks to identify the age of each element and virtually peel them away to reveal the earlier form of the building.

For instance, when built, the 1425 garden elevation of the west range had a fashionable overhanging first floor, known as a jetty. Jetties are only possible if a building is timber-framed, so became unfashionable once brick became available. To address this a later generation ‘underbuilt’ the jetty in brick and rendered the first floor, thereby hiding the evidence the building was timber-framed. A subsequent generation sought to complete the deceit by cladding parts of the first floor with ‘mathematical tiles’ (special hanging tiles that look like bricks).

On a smaller scale individual rooms were plastered, lined with panelling or later stretched fabric in order to hide what lay beneath. The moulded plasterwork of the Geraldine Room ceiling was a truly revolutionary architectural novelty when created in 1547. It originally extended over The Red Drawing Room, but was replaced once out of date by a plain ceiling.

the west rangeNovice volunteers will have the opportunity be trained by a building historian to record rooms within the house, photographing anything diagnostic or that that might suggest alteration has taken place. Parallel archive research may suggest dates for some of these features. The record will help us understand how different areas of the house changed in status over time and feed into a set of notes for our house guides."

We are very excited as to what we might learn about the building's chronology and development and look forward to sharing it here. 

Thank you to Lottery Players for making this project possible.