In June we will be working with specialists to conserve and repair multiple parts of our historic building. For the first time in Torre Abbey’s restoration phases, Torre Abbey will remain open while the works are carried out.
This exciting and vital project will conserve and repair the south west and south east ranges of the main mansion, the C14th Mohun Gatehouse, Courtyard 4 including its tower and the north end of the Chapel. Investigation works will also look into the cracking in the lath and plaster in the Chapel, to see what future work would be needed to allow us to open the Chapel fully to the public in the future.
The restoration works will see windows, cementitious render, the roof in the gatehouse and chapel vestry removed, repaired, and replaced, as well as lowering the ground level to the south façade to regain the bottom step to the south façade doors which has been lost to successive resurfacing works and structural repairs to tie in areas of the walls.
Southeast and Southwest Wings
Much of the outside of the southeast and southwest wings on the sea-facing side of the building will be re-rendered, with accompanying window, door, and ceiling repairs to protect these parts of the Abbey. As part of this work, the Ballroom will be closed to allow the necessary works to be completed. The ground on the south façade (facing the sea) will also be lowered, and landscaping works will restore the carriage sweep and bring a sense of pausing space, allowing visitors and walkers alike a space for quiet contemplation.
The masonry of this courtyard will be repaired and lime washed to restore this section of the Abbey to its previous Gothic Revival style.
This project will ensure that our gatehouse, dating from around 1375, is preserved for future generations. The current render will be replaced with lime render, bringing the gatehouse back to its original look. The works will also make the gatehouse fully accessible by the general public for the first time.
The chapel, which was built within the medieval Abbot’s Hall in 1776, is beginning to show signs of cracking. Investigations will take place to find out why the cracks are forming and how the internal room has been constructed. Due to evidence of bats ecologists will help to carry out the investigations without causing disturbance to them.
The team at Torre Abbey has already started to get ready for the works by packing up the collections in the rooms which will be affected. Next time you visit Torre Abbey you may well find objects in rooms where they aren’t normally and see some of the preparatory cleaning and packing works. From June the south east and south west wings will have scaffolding around them to allow the works to start. As well as the building remaining open and ready for visitors, pathways will remain open and accessible through the site for the many thousands of people who walk through it every week.
Torre Abbey will remain open during this phase of restoration works and plan to bring an exciting series of behind-the-scenes tours and opportunities to delve deeper into how conservation work is undertaken in this nationally significant and complex building.
After the works, visitors to Torre Abbey will see the Gatehouse look quite different. When it was first built the whole of the structure was covered in a lime wash render. Over the centuries of sea air and storms much of this render has been lost and you can now see the brickwork below. As part of these works the remaining medieval render will be restored and sensitively replaced where necessary so that it is returned to its original fully rendered exterior. All the works will be done under the close supervision of architects and archaeologists and in line with all the necessary standards required for the Scheduled Monument site.
The Torre Abbey Restoration Project has been made possible with a grant of £468,993 from the Museum Estate Development Fund using public funds by Arts Council England and £363,748 from the Cultural Assets Fund (CAF); a £20 million government funding stream to protect treasured heritage assets in England from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic administered by the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) alongside match funding from Torbay Council and the Friends of Torre Abbey (FOTA).
Working in partnership