CLA FEATURE: Stone by stone

10 January 2019

Arche project

A painstaking project to dismantle and then restore a stone arch bridge dating back to the 1720s has been completed at Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire. Lee Murphy went to take a look.

The project completed by Luke Clark, of LDC Heritage Restoration, to restore a historic bridge in the grounds of Grimsthorpe Castle has been like undertaking a jigsaw puzzle on an epic scale.

Luke is the owner of the Nottingham based stonemasons who specialise in heritage restoration and conservation of historic buildings and churches. He has led a major project that has seen 13 large stone arches that support the Red Bridge in the parkland at Grimsthorpe Castle restored to their former glory.

The bridge is situated in an area of undulating land and separates the Great Water Lake and Red Bridge Pond on the estate. The lake was originally a formal canal but as the landscape evolved, it became a lake. The arches are a striking feature in the parkland.

“We believe the arches were first built around 1720 and have gradually deteriorated over time,” says Luke. “When we started the project only four of the arches were standing. The others had either fallen into the silt, or at an earlier stage been labelled and moved to a barn.”

Once all the original stones had been accounted for they were numbered, repaired where necessary, and then slowly pieced back together one at a time. To ensure future repairs are not necessary everything possible has been done to secure the stones in place this time round. Working with Abacus Design Associates, a structural design was created that could anchor the stones together and ensure they would not deteriorate again.

“We collected all the original stones and each arch was rebuilt over an arch centre,” says Luke. “Between each stone we have placed two stainless steel rods that are out of view but pin the stones together. The stones at the base have been anchored to the original brick base foundation.”

Restoring the stones was only one part of this extensive project. Working with Scarborough Nixon Associates, Luke had to keep a close eye out for newts, frogs and toads due to the potential disruption of the work. In total more than 80 newts and hundreds of frogs and toads were discovered within the nooks and crannies of the stones and were relocated to a new habitat close by that had been created ahead of the work getting underway.

During the restoration of the arches a cobbled surface for the bridge – which there was no historical record of - was discovered under the soil. These cobbles have now been stripped back and provide added aesthetic appeal to the bridge.

Grimsthorpe Castle is predominately a 12,500 acre arable estate with around 2,000 acres of woodland and a large residential portfolio. The castle is open to the public during the spring and summer. The project was undertaken as part of the estates higher-level stewardship agreement with Natural England.

LDC Heritage Restoration | www.ldcrestoration.co.uk/

Grimsthorpe Castle | www.grimsthorpe.co.uk/