Moated manor house to reopen to the public after £6.5m roof restoration

Oxburgh Hall has undergone a £6.5m roof conservation project.

Oxburgh Hall has undergone a £6.5m roof conservation project. - Credit: Nicholas Farka

Norfolk's 500-year-old moated manor house is set to reopen to the public as its £6.5m roof conservation project nears completion.

The National Trust’s Oxburgh Hall, near Swaffham, will reopen its doors to the ground floor rooms of the house from Saturday, April 2. 

Oxburgh Hall's library will reopen to the public from April 2.

Oxburgh Hall's library will reopen to the public from April 2. - Credit: Jim Woolf

This will include the hall’s library which has been closed for several months following the discovery of a structural weakness in the ceiling beams. 

It was during the middle of the roof conservation project, in June last year, that staff noticed the plasterwork around the central ceiling beam in the library was beginning to crack. 

After further investigation by architects and structural engineers, three beams were found to be in poor condition including signs of major pest damage caused by deathwatch beetles. 

The effects of deathwatch beetle.h beetle.

The effects of deathwatch beetle. - Credit: National Trust

The deathwatch beetle is a species of woodboring beetle which sometimes infest the structural timbers of old buildings. 

Russell Clement, general manager at Oxburgh Hall, said: “After the discovery was made, all of the collections in the library had to be relocated to allow four props to be installed to secure the weight of the beams.  

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“This wasn’t an easy task, as one of the marble busts alone weighs around 60kg, so everyone on the estate pitched in to help. 

Staff pictured rolling the library carpet away ready for repairs on the roof at Oxburgh Hall.

Staff pictured rolling the library carpet away ready for repairs on the roof at Oxburgh Hall. - Credit: National Trust

“With the props safely installed, collection items carefully stored and the room protected, repairs to the beams began to take place in early autumn last year.  

“Now everything is back in place, the library has undergone a deep clean and all that’s left to do is reinstate an area of historic wallpaper which was removed by a specialist and welcome back our visitors.” 

Oxburgh Hall's library will reopen to the public from April 2.

Oxburgh Hall's library will reopen to the public from April 2. - Credit: Jim Woolf

Visitors will be able to discover more about how the roof project is progressing and the story of the conservation work the National Trust has been undertaking, including in the newly restored library, in a new display opening soon in the Gun Room.  

Mr Clement added: “We’re really looking forward to giving visitors the chance to once again explore this beautiful building with its portraits and treasured objects, all of which have fascinating stories to tell. 

Oxburgh Hall's library will reopen to the public from April 2.

Oxburgh Hall's library will reopen to the public from April 2. - Credit: Jim Woolf

“The end is in sight too for the roof project. In a couple of months we look forward to opening up more areas of the house.” 

For more information visit https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/oxburgh-hall