11 Nov New funding to help restore Essex’s built heritage
Essex is full of historic built heritage and it needs careful maintenance. Funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund has enabled the Land of the Fanns Landscape Partnership Scheme to team up with Essex Wildlife Trust (EWT) and commission experts from Essex County Council Place Services to ensure that correct maintenance happens by running a training course on historic brickwork repointing.
Attendees on the course were from Essex Wildlife Trust Volunteers and from Upminster Windmill. The EWT volunteers will use their new talents to help rebuild the cold frame structures at Warley Place. The 25 acre reserve at Great Warley is the site of a house and once famous Edwardian gardens which belonged to Ellen Willmott, a much respected plants woman, botanist, author and gardener and one of the great personalities of British gardening. Warley Place was once one of the most beautiful and interesting of English gardens and here Ellen grew over 100,000 different species and cultivars of trees, shrubs and plants. It is now maintained as a nature reserve by Essex Wildlife Trust. The cold frame is a low angled, brick structure with an original glass top that was used as low-to-the-ground greenhouses in the 18th century, possibly for growing seedlings that were later transplanted into open ground.
The participants from Upminster Windmill intend to repoint the brickwork platform that supports the newly refurbished windmill which is situated on The Mill Field in Upminster and dates back to 1805. Upminster Windmill is a Grade II listed building and is widely considered to be amongst the very best remaining English smock mills.
Land of the Fanns part funded the two day course and ECC Place Services and EWT led on the training. Participants learned how to use lime mortar rather than modern cement. The use of lime mortar dates back at least 6,000 years, to the Ancient Egyptians who used lime to plaster the pyramids. Portland cement gradually replaced lime mortar during the 19th century, however cement is not recommended in the repair and restoration of brick and stone-built structures originally built using lime mortar. Lime mortar is more porous than cement mortars, and it draws any dampness in the wall to the surface where it evaporates and the salt content in the water crystallises on the lime, damaging the lime and thus saving the masonry as the building can essentially breathe.
Historic buildings were commonly built with relatively soft brick and many different types of stone. Minor movement in such buildings is quite common and this movement breaks the weakest part of the wall, which when cement is used, is usually the masonry. When lime mortar is used, the lime is the weaker element, and the mortar cracks rather than the brickwork making the structure last much longer.