‘At-risk’ listed greenhouse and potting shed will be restored

Much-needed work will take place to restore the grade II-listed greenhouse and potting shed, at Felton Park.
Much-needed work will take place to restore the grade II-listed greenhouse and potting shed, at Felton Park.

A historic structure which has fallen into disrepair will be saved after major funding has been secured for a vital restoration project.

The grade II*-listed greenhouse and potting shed, at Felton Park, have long been on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register.

But now, much-needed work is set to take place, following funding from Historic England, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Country Houses Foundation and Northumberland County Council.

A team of contractors have been appointed to carry out the repair works, which are due to be completed by the autumn.

In addition to repairing the fabric, there will be greatly increased public access to this important site.

Felton Park owner Tim Maxwell said: “I am delighted to have received such strong support from Britain’s leading heritage organisations. It is a mark of how important this building is.

“The restoration will not only allow greater access, but enable the greenhouse to take its proper place in the gardening history of Northumberland.”

The greenhouse is one of only 20 surviving curvilinear metal and glass structures in England and one of only two in the North East.

Built in about 1830, it is considered to be a particularly early and complete example of the hot-house format developed by John Claudius Loudon.

Loudon was not only a famous garden designer, but through his journalism created the modern mass interest in gardening.

The greenhouse and potting shed are set within an 18th-century garden wall at Felton Park, a site with a documented horticultural history.

However, according to Historic England’s most recent ‘at risk’ register, the structure is in a very bad condition.

It says that the ironwork is badly rusted, the glass panes are becoming dislodged and the potting-shed roof is leaking.

All this is about to change though, thanks to the conservation project, which follows a series of specialist assessments and investigations, undertaken over an extended period.

The restoration will require a number of special skills, including stone masonry, metal conservation and repair and glazing.

Representatives from the four organisations that have offered the funding boost have said they were only too happy to help.

David Farrington, Historic England Heritage at Risk surveyor in the North East, said: “After many years of uncertainty, the repair of one of the North East’s most longstanding Heritage at Risk cases is now within sight.

“The repair scheme at Felton will not only showcase specialist heritage craft skills, but will also offer exciting insights into horticultural history and technology.”

The trustees of the Country Houses Foundation added: “We were pleased to award a grant for the restoration of this tremendously important greenhouse in the North East, a structure that needs preserving for generations to come.”

A number of events are being planned to help mark the restoration of the greenhouse and potting shed.

There will be two walk-and-talk tours, where members of the public are invited to visit the site and talk to the architect and craftsmen.

For safety reasons, the numbers will be limited to 20 people.

Entry will be free, but admission by ticket will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

Dates are not yet fixed, but the first will be towards the end of July and the second is earmarked for early September.

On top of this, a seminar will be held at Felton to discuss John Claudius Loudon’s contribution to garden design and more general horticultural history in Northumberland.

Once again, the date is yet to be announced, but it is likely to be in late September.

For more information, and to see film clips of the restoration as the project progresses, visit the website www.feltonparkgreenhouse.org