31 Market Street, Lutterworth.
Home to Sullivan Building and the Woodburner Workshop
Skills and Experience are the two most important factors any company can possess when engaged in the specialist field of restoration. The exacting parameters demanded by architects, local authorities and overseeing organisations, such as English Heritage and the National Trust can only be met by a sound knowledge of traditional practises. Sullivan Building and Restoration are fortunate to have a team with a wealth of skill and experience. For instance, traditional Sheet Lead work; a sound understanding of lime putty and plasters; the fabrication and use of ‘green oak’ in both historical and modern contexts; see our blog post Snark Bottom Farm
The restoration of 31 Market place, a former coaching inn dating back to at least the beginning of the seventeenth-century, was, at the time, one of the most extensive projects that Sullivan Building had achieved.
The fabric of the building was in quite a precarious state and we were asked to work closely with the borough’s listed buildings officer in renovating the structure according with the practices used by the original builders.
It was necessary to get back to the building’s origins to ensure the restoration would have integrity.
Sourcing materials was a start. Green oak with a specific grain was obtained from a local timber merchant.
Mortar, which might be thought of as ordinary, was treated with the reverence of mother’s cake mix.
There are often mythologies that evolve within communities that focus on buildings which extend beyond living memory; 31 Market street was no exception.
Many town’s people said it was rumoured that a secret passage existed under the building, a means of escape during the English Civil War.
During our restoration we uncovered a hidden trap door and on prizing it open found a passage which had been filled with rubble. It took our team two days to excavate the waste. What they revealed was…the former pubs original cellar.
With the cellar cleared of rubble and refuse the structure above had a chance to dry; the ingress of water in one form or another had been a major factor in the building’s deterioration. This effected both masonry and the timber structure. Yet we found that the oaken frame of the building was generally in a good condition considering the age of the structure.
As part of our restoration we had planned to extend the original floor plan with the addition of a space created by using oak frames, produced and jointed, using the methods that the original builders would have recognised.
The frames were put together in our fabrication shop and taken apart again and then transported to the site. It took surprisingly little time in erecting and securing them into place.
Once the frames are in place and the roof is on, the rate of progress increases. Cables can be run and insulation installed, glass ordered and fitted.
Before long our twentyfirst-century addition is complete. The effect of such a large airy space has proved to be very complimentary to the rejuvenated and quirky original.
The completed restoration of 31 Market street is much more than an echo of the past, it’s a modern functional building, that delivers a form not yet designed by the digital age, for as the timbers settle they will twist and crack a little and look wonderfully imprecise and a little quirky.