Heritage and Conservation Showcase Through Doncaster's Historic Mansion House

Paul Allcock
Mansion House in Doncaster is a fantastic example of Faithful+Gould's expertise in conservation and heritage.

Our long standing relationship with Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council has provided several opportunities to work with buildings of historic interest. Our conservation experience has allowed us to offer heritage advice to our client in a borough which houses a wealth of fine historic buildings. In addition to working on the Grade I Listed Mansion House our team has also provided heritage services to Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council on the Grade I Listed Cusworth Hall and Grade II* Listed Corn Exchange Market Hall buildings.

During these heritage projects we have built a strong relationship with the Local Authority's Conservation Department through close liaison to ensure that the buildings are afforded the correct level of care and are protected for the enjoyment of future generations. The Grade I listed Mansion House is no exception with its town centre location making the building a focal point and a source of civic pride for the residents of Doncaster.

The Mansion House was originally constructed in 1749 and is one of only five Mansion Houses built in the country to provide accommodation for the Mayor and entertainment space for the town. The importance of Mansion House to the town of Doncaster and the country's historic building stock was therefore at the forefront when considering potential external maintenance works.

As highlighted by William Anelay, site manager, in episode one of the recent BBC series, The Hairy Builder, funding for repairs to Mansion House were limited, therefore careful consideration to prioritise remedial works was required. Our team was integral to the prioritisation of the external repair works and completed a feasibility study which considered the highest priority works and potential budget costs to complete. Our in-house building surveyors and quantity surveyors combined our maintenance planning, cost planning and heritage skills to provide robust recommendations for a scope of works. As with all heritage projects, protection of the building is key. Our focus was, therefore aimed at rectifying defects which had the potential to cause further deterioration of the building. This resulted in a large amount of the repairs specified relating to the prevention of water ingress to roof areas, above ground drainage systems and windows.

The Mansion House was originally constructed in 1749 and is one of only five Mansion Houses built in the country to provide accommodation for the Mayor and entertainment space for the town.

Mansion House is also an operational building which is still utilised for private and public entertaining. The building is a focal point of the town centre and adds to the town's tourism offering. The appearance of the building is, therefore also of great importance alongside the protection of its fabric. It is important that historic building stock is functional and can be revenue earning with the ultimate aim of being self-funding, this approach gives the building its best chance of survival and the ability to reinvest funding for its up keep.

Once works had been prioritised and a budget set we began the process of specifying the repair works in detail to gain statutory approvals and tender prices. At this stage our heritage experience and close links with the conservation officer proved invaluable. Careful consideration was required to establish where original materials could be retained to protect the character and history of the building or replaced to enhance the building. Examples of this included:

  • The introduction of modern breathable roofing membranes and additional ventilation.
  • The introduction of improved insulation within roof voids without compromising the historic building fabric and the internal environmental conditions.
  • Consideration of retaining the existing roof covering materials to retain the external appearance of the building versus replacement with new to provide a longer serviceable life.
  • Consideration of the most suitable preparation techniques and finishes to redecorate the front façade. This element required careful consideration of previous paint schemes applied to the building to ensure that the new scheme was historically accurate.

It is important that historic building stock is functional and can be revenue earning with the ultimate aim of being self-funding...

Where necessary we utilised our wide network of conservation specialists to assist with the specification process. Examples of this include:

  • Historic paint specialists to analyse the previous paint schemes applied to the front façade.
  • Historic timber specialists to survey the roof timbers for fungal decay and insect infestation.
  • Ecology specialist to assess the site for potential bat roosts commonly found in roof and other complex/ornate building elements.

During the construction phase the client continued to utilise our heritage knowledge and instructed us to provide a watching brief. This role allowed us to monitor the progress and quality of the work that we had specified. It also allowed us to provide the client with additional advice when a variation to the works was encountered which needed liaison with the Conservation Officer and a swift solution to keep the project on track.

Mansion House remained open during the works and continues to provide a beautiful venue in the town centre which adds to the attraction of the historic town of Doncaster.

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