The Restoration of the Manor House Stables (2007-2008)
The completion of the Manor House Stables in April 2008 marked the culmination of nearly 10 years of research and restoration. The result has is a unique restoration of a previously redundant Grade II Listed Stables into self-catering holiday accommodation, tearooms, small shop and space for courses. Environmentally-friendly natural materials have been used throughout the restoration in a historically-sympathetic way.
Restoration is a great example of sustainability - the importance of re-using an existing building is often overlooked. Using natural materials in restoration is important in that these materials not only contribute positively to the environment, but they also allow the building to 'breathe' (thus ensuring its continued survival) and can also be re-used or allowed to degrade when the building is at the end of its life - a truly sustainable life-cycle. In addition, natural products are not only beneficial for the building but also for the environment and for the health of people too.
During the restoration of the Stables, natural sustainable materials/products were used and the sustainable principals of SPAB (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) were adhered to as closely as possible. A very local firm of builders (Tasker Builders of Sleaford) with experience of historic conservation was employed to carry out the restoration.
In the restoration both historic conservation and ecological principals were considered.
Original features including doors, windows, timber beams, stable stalls and mangers were retained and repaired rather than replaced and the new extension was built using materials that complemented the age and original use of the Stables.
Only materials with natural breathable qualities were used in the restoration to allow the building to ‘breathe’.
Natural environmentally-friendly paints and wood stains were used throughout on doors, floors and window frames (which smelt of oranges during application!)
High levels of thermal insulation (well above Building Regulation requirements) were achieved throughout the building but only natural chemical-free materials were used. These included battens of cotton-hemp and wood fibreboard in the walls and ceilings, and layers of re-cycled foam glass and limecrete (known as 'glaster') below the floors.
Borax salts were used instead of the normal toxic wood-preservative treatment.
Solar panels and a ETA wood pellet boiler (rated number 1 in Europe) were installed which together fuel the upstairs radiators and the downstairs underfloor heating system as well as providing lots of hot water. Wood-burning (Clearview) stove were also installed in both accommodations.
Our Environmental Policy
Our aim was to restore our redundant 18th century stable block to give it new life. We wanted to retain its character in a simple traditional way and restore it using natural earth-friendly materials that would allow the building to ‘breathe’. We chose natural materials because they are good for old buildings, the environment and for the health of people. This holistic concept has been the basis for the decisions we have made from the beginning of the restoration and is now shaping all aspects of running the business – from the products we offer to the services we provide. We are committed to providing a good quality service whilst minimising the environmental impact of our activities in order to preserve the environment around us for future generations.
We want our visitors to relax and unwind and enjoy the peaceful surroundings within this traditional rural setting. We hope that as they view the surrounding countryside, taste the fresh local food, smell the natural oils in the plant products we provide, breathe the fresh air (inside the building as well as outside), wake to the sound of bird song, and touch the wood, the wool and all the other natural fibres, their enthusiasm for living in harmony with nature, their appreciation for the environment and their understanding of the reasons for preserving it will all be enhanced.
We also view communication as an important part the service we provide and we are more than happy to provide information about, and answer questions on, a large number of topics including eco-friendly building materials, wood pellet heating, local produce, chemical-free bath and beauty products, organic gardening, local events, where to go locally to experience nature (e.g. nature reserves, where to go walking and cycling) and any other information they require – these and others are activities are those that encourage a greater awareness of environmental issues.
Our environmental policy is all about choosing the types of sustainable products which are kinder to the environment and to people; communicating, encouraging and providing information about these products and services to our guests; and providing inspiration by example.
Products and Services used during restoration
- Only natural sustainable materials/products were used throughout the restoration and the sustainable principals of SPAB (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) were adhered to as closely as possible.
- Original features were retained and repaired rather than replaced
- Solar Panels and a very efficient ETA Wood Pellet boiler were installed - these work together to supply the underfloor heating, cast iron radiators and hot water. Cast-iron wood-burning stoves were installed in both accommodations and a low energy storage heater/cooker was installed in one of the units.
- Natural insulation was used throughout and included battens of cotton/ hemp and wood-fibre boards in the walls & ceilings and layers of re-cycled glass/limecrete (known as ‘glaster’) below the floors. The quantity of insulation used ensured that u-values were well above that specified in the Building Regulations were achieved.
- Natural environmentally-friendly paints and wood stains were used on the woodwork both inside and out, and lime plaster, distemper and lime-wash were used in all the interior decoration.
- Borax salts were used instead of the normal toxic wood-preserving treatment,
- Local builders were employed for the restoration of the building, local kitchen craftsmen were used to build the kitchens, and where possible, local products were purchased and local services were sought.
- A Rainwater harvesting system was installed - the water collected is currently used to partially satisfy the requirements of our organic vegetable garden and raised beds. A purpose-built bat roosting box was incorporated into the roof void of the Stables
- The brand new dishwashers are triple A rated for efficiency and the washing machines are A++ rated (recommended by the Energy Savings Trust).
- Green Electricity - All our electricity is from 100% renewable sources, i.e. from free-falling water, wind, biomass, solar and tides. Low energy light bulbs are used where possible, there are several ‘lighting zones’ in each room and the outside lights are on timer switches so they are only used when required
Products and services provided for guests
- Welcome Hampers - these include local (organic where possible) Lincolnshire produce as well as other organic products from further afield. The vegetables and fruit are either produced in our own garden or purchased locally. Eggs, cheese, butter and Lincolnshire sausages are all produced locally, the bread we make is made from flour from local windmills. The fruit presses is made at a fruit farm in Lincolnshire. Honey is from a farm near Lincoln and jams are made by local producers.
- We are members of Tastes of Lincolnshire and promote the county's rich agricultural heritage by using and encouraging the use of local produce and products. Lincolnshire food, drink, restaurants, tearooms and many other establishments are all promoted through our books and literature provided in the accommodation.
- Toiletries and household cleaners are provided for the guests – these include chemical-free plant-based soaps, shampoo & conditioners, face cleansers, bath products and low-impact cleaning products, dishwashing products and laundry liquid.
- Nature appreciation - Each accommodation has its own small garden fenced off with hazel hurdles which include bird-feeding tables and pots and troughs planted with vegetable/herbs available for use during guests’ stay. Binoculars and bird books are provided in the accommodations. We are also continually working on our own garden which extends to one acre around the Stables and which includes a lavender field, organic vegetable garden, apple orchard and a small native woodland - we are happy to show guests around and talk about what we’ve done and other nature conservation issues.
- We provide composting buckets indoors and wooden compost bins outside in the gardens of both accommodations (our own re-cycling bins are also available for guests to use). Oak water butts collect water from the roofs which guests can use to water their own gardens.
- Natural materials/fibres have been used everywhere, including wood floors, wool or cotton rugs, cotton sheets and towels (mostly organic), organic wool mattresses, silk, cotton or linen curtains
- Collection and drop-off services to the nearest railway are offered and information on local transport is provided.
- We provide photo albums about the restoration and are also in the process of developing information packs which will contain much more detailed information on where to obtain various materials and products and advice about other eco-living topics.
Plans for the Future
- We are now running courses at the Stables on topics ranging from wildlife gardening to basket-making which are open for anyone from the local people to guests.
- We also have a small gift shop which is now closed but we hope to open it again in the near future. Items for sale include those inspired by nature as well as products made by local craftspeople.