Masterful roof renovation in the spirit of the Arts and Craft movement. The historic roof of the landmarked British country house “Swiss Cottage” posed special artistic and technical challenges. The strongly weathered roof with its distinctive geometric pattern had to be completely restored. Through a perfect synergy of technical know-how and craftsmanship the challenge was more than met.

Project details

Project Swiss Cottage in North Yorkshire, UK
Client Castle Howard Estate
Roofer Dodds Roofing Services Ltd,
Clay roof tiles used Humber Clay Plain Tile in natural red and antique slate, handmade arrow head feature tiles in antique slate, handmade 90° slotted ridge tiles with Fleur-De-Lys and ball inserts in antique slate.

Swiss cottage with a roof featuring a distinctive geometric pattern

Swiss Cottage in North Yorkshire, UK © Andrew Smith SG Photography Ltd

Roof featuring a distinctive geometric pattern

Swiss Cottage in North Yorkshire, UK © Andrew Smith SG Photography Ltd

Roof featuring a distinctive geometric pattern

Swiss Cottage in North Yorkshire, UK

Roof featuring a distinctive geometric pattern in detail

Swiss Cottage in North Yorkshire, UK © Andrew Smith SG Photography Ltd

Inspired by the Arts and Craft movement

Located in a conservation area, “Swiss Cottage” is one of over 200 properties on the Estate, which is situated within the Howardian Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), just 15 miles north east of York. The design of the house was inspired by the Arts and Craft movement, which was developed in England during the second half of the 19th century. The steep-pitched roof features a distinctive geometric pattern and had to be entirely replaced as the tiles were severely weathered.

Laying a roof by hand

Sandtoft’s Humber clay plain tiles in Natural Red and Antique Slate have been used on the main roof, plus an extensive number of arrow head feature tiles, also in Antique Slate. To meet the requirements of the local planning authority, the pattern had to be replicated using handmade tiles and 90° Slotted ridge tiles with Fleur-De-Lys and Ball inserts.
 
Graham Dodds from Dodds Roofing Services, who was responsible for the re-roofing, said:
 
“We partnered with Sandtoft as it has extensive experience of working in conservation and restoration projects. The team advised us on the most appropriate products as well as the fixing specification.” The decorative ridges and diamond shaped tiles were all handmade by Sandtoft’s skilled craftsmen. “Recreating a geometric pattern is no easy task, but with the support of Sandtoft and its heritage service, we have succeeded in replicating the original design and restoring this character cottage back to its former glory.”
Nigel Dyer, Sandtoft’s heritage service manager, added: “The roofers had to carefully draw the pattern onto a grid to enable our craftsmen to match the original tiles and fittings. Using our technical knowledge and specialist methods, we have produced authentic finished products which meet both the requirements of the local planners and the Castle Howard Estate.”

Preservation as top priority

Over the last five decades Castle Howard has committed millions of pounds to conservation and essential repairs, in addition to regular spending on maintenance and management, as part of the estates ongoing restoration and conservation programme.
 
In December 2007, Castle Howard partnered with English Heritage and Ryedale District Council to draw up a management plan to ensure a sustainable future for the Castle Howard Estate. This plan won the Heritage category at the national planning awards hosted by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) in February 2010.

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