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Historic Building workshop, Care and repair of historic masonry structures, Highcliffe Castle, Christchurch, Dorset

June 22, 2018, 09:30 - 17:00


Historic Building workshops

Care & repair of historic masonry strucbures


Date: Friday 22 June 2018

When: 0930 – 1700

Where: Highliffe Castle, Christchurch, Dorset

Cost:  £125.00 plus VAT (£150.00) to include seminar proceedings, all refreshments, lunch, entry to Wimpole Estate and comprehensive delegate pack

The day’s course will consider in depth three aspects of building conservation.

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  • The care and repair of historic stonework
  • Understanding historic mortars and the use of lime in conservation
  • The historic Fabric of Highcliffe Castle including the ongoing repair and consolidation project.


The venue has been carefully chosen as the house represents a fine examples of a Grade 1 country house with a recent history of two disastrous fires, dereliction, and the ensuing battle to save it for future generations. The building is the product of a collaboration between Lord Stuart de Rothesay and his architect William Donthorn in 1831 in the picturesque Gothic style. Lord Stuart had a remarkable career as a diplomat and spent two period as British Ambassador in Paris. Whilst in France he amassed a vast collection of architectural salvage including 12 barge loads of Medieval and 16th century stonework, stained glass, panelling, antique furniture and tapestries. This hoard of materials formed the major elements for his new house.

The castle was bought in 1967 for development and shortly after suffered two fires and then followed 20 years of vandalism and dereliction. The local council compulsorily purchased the property and in 1990 temporary works were undertaken to prevent further decay. In 1994 a phased scheme of repair commenced and is still ongoing with the current phase being supported by a £2.9 million Lottery Fund grant. The building now has a watertight shell with new roofs and well restored exterior. The interior was so badly damaged that it could not be economically restored to its former glory. However, basic consolidation has been undertaken and areas brought back into community use. This conservation of the interior “as found” approach using modern materials to provide useable spaces is a quite interesting solution.


Kevin Stubbs BA(Hons)  DipBldgCons(AA)  IHBC   CertEd

Kevin Stubbs is a Historic Buildings Consultant and comes with a background of education, archaeology and building conservation. He was Director of Archaeology for the Test Valley in Hampshire and later moved to Hampshire County Council to join the Historic Buildings Bureau, where he became the Principal Buildings Conservation Officer for the County. For eleven years he acted as the Director of a Conservation Centre and now runs his own Historic Building Consultancy and Training Company.

He advises on the repair and maintenance of all historic structures and provides training at all levels for the building conservation industry.  This includes the development of historic building technology, traditional materials and hands-on craft training.  Work for Local Government Authorities includes Conservation Area appraisals, historic building condition surveys and feasibility studies.  He has provided training exercises with local communities to raise awareness of their village plans and local heritage interpretation documents and he has provided Traditional Skills Awareness Courses for a number of bodies. He undertakes the Historic Analysis of buildings and produces: Statements of Significance; Method Statements; Impact Assessments and Specifications for the repair and conservation of traditional buildings.

He lectures for various CPD providers, Universities and national building conservation organizations including SPAB, RICS and the Weald and Downland Museum.  Topics include: Bricks and Mortar; Lime, Plasters and Renders; Cob and Earth, Timber Frame and Stone Structures and Traditional Roofing.

Main themes

Care and repair of historic stonework

Stone Buildings are some of our oldest surviving structures in the country and there are many from the medieval and later periods in need of sensitive care and repair. The use of stone was not just confined to the grand buildings and churches but was also used for a variety of ordinary domestic and vernacular buildings. The methods of quarrying, selection and use of stone in the past contributes much to the character and grain of our historic Cities, Towns and Villages.

A basic understanding of historic stone structures will be developed. The identification of causes of failure and the selection of appropriate repair and conservation systems including the selection of replacement stone and methods of fixing will be considered.

Care & repair of historic masonry structures and selection of mortars

The first important stage of this process is to identify the sources which have caused the problems of decay to occur; these must be resolved before the stonework can be repaired.  It is also important to understand the nature and function of historic mortars and the dangers of the use of modern cementitious products.  The use of inappropriate mortars can result in the rapid deterioration of historic masonry and long term structural problems. The problems of water movement, salts, frost and the cleaning of stone will be examined.  The methods of re-pointing will also be considered, not only for aesthetic reasons, but to ensure the correct performance and durability of the new joint.

The historic fabric of Highcliffe Castle

The approach to the conservation of the building will be considered in detail and contrasted to other restoration projects of badly damaged buildings. The meticulous repair of the exterior has enabled the building to be presented in the architectural form as conceived by Lord Stuart and Donthorn and is a spectacular example of the Picturesque Gothic style. The consolidation of the interior allows the surviving post fire fabric of the building to be observed with no attempt to restore or create a facsimile of the original. No attempt has been made to disguise new structural elements and all options for restoration left open for the future.


The parking at Highcliffe Castle is limited to 4 hours. Alternatives are

  • Steamer Point car park currently holds 169 in Mudeford, BH23 4TA. From Steamer Point car park, Highcliffe Castle can be reached in 10 minutes by following the Coastal Path which follows a cliff top route through the nature reserve with sea views of Christchurch Bay.
  • Highcliffe Cliff Top car park currently holds 624 in Wharncliffe Road, BH23 5DF.

The current published cost at Steamer point for up to 12 hours is £7.00

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Or book online below (if you do not have a paypal account please click on proceed to paypal and check out as a guest with a credit/debit card)


Highliffe Castle
Rothesay Dr
Highcliffe, Dorset BH23 4LE United Kingdom


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Highcliffe Castle
£ 125.00 exc. VAT
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