The needs and requirements of the 21st century family are quite different to those of 500 or even 50 years ago. Park Farm, a large 16th century Herefordshire farmhouse, is almost 500 years old and has been continuously occupied since it was constructed. The spectacular renovation of the property benefits from many new technology features - modern insulation, damp- proofing, central heating, plumbing and wiring, but uses traditional materials, oak, lime-plaster, brick and slate to maintain the architectural integrity of the building. The result is a contemporary 21st century home and a building restored to survive another 500 years of family life.
In October 2004, following a long period of consultation with English Heritage and Hereford County Council plans were approved to start work on restoring the historic farmhouse.
New green oak from Gloucestershire was used to replace rotten timbers and the building physically lifted nearly 9 inches on one side to bring it back level.
The opportunity to take a building apart and put it back together has resulted in the uncovering of some surprising information about the buildings development. Following a thorough internal investigation by Archaeological Investigations it was found that some attempt had been made by previous owners to stabilise the structure, essentially to keep the building upright.
Park Farm was suffering from a potentially lethal case of rot, literally sinking into the ground due to decaying timbers and a rotten sole plate; absolute essentials for maintaining building stability. Major works were previously attempted to include the removal of defective timbers from the lower level and a solid brick wall was constructed off the original stone plinth to brace beneath the main horizontal floor beam to provide support for the wall. Additional works previously carried out include the introduction of tie rods and plates, internal brackets and ties and bracing timbers and props; all inserted to stabilise the building and attempt to prevent further distortion of the frame. These actions were successful in their aims but as in the case of the bracing timbers contemporary materials were not used. These required replacing in order to keep the structure close to original.
The majority of timbers were found to be in remarkably good condition, with little replacement required with the exception of the base and the central frame and one horizontal member. The state of repair of the mortice and tenon joints are an important feature with the potential to critically affect the structure, with each joint requiring individual assessment for wear and degradation. Due to the structural dropping of the gable the joints had become distorted and misaligned and therefore potentially a major issue requiring replacement in their entirety.
In 1910 the large gable was roofed with stone which weighed over twenty tonne, the framing underneath had disintegrated in places and a sixteen by twelve inch beam had rotted right through at both ends. The framework was only held up by bolts running through the house and many of the tie beams were plated on the inside. Remedial works to this gable were proposed to level the whole building in order to remedy the sinking of the North gable. This would inevitably lead to greater stability and balance to the structure.
Once the northern wing was finished and the majority of the structural work completed, the rest of the house was able to be gutted and rooms restored to original dimensions and (in some case) uses.
MORE INFO HERE : PARK FARM WEBSITE