Byfleet Manor - PAYE
1662
post-template-default,single,single-post,postid-1662,single-format-standard,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,qode_grid_1400,footer_responsive_adv,qode-content-sidebar-responsive,qode-child-theme-ver-1.0.0,qode-theme-ver-17.2,qode-theme-bridge,qode_header_in_grid,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.6,vc_responsive
 

Byfleet Manor

Byfleet Manor

The village of Byfleet is located South of Weybridge in Surrey on the banks of the river Wey. The house itself is to the South of the village, in close proximity to the river with a number of smaller tributaries running through the estate. Traces of a Neolithic settlement have been found on the site, but the first recorded mention was in 727 when a charter of the King of Mercia granted it to Chertsey Abbey (then a Benedictine monastery). By 1307, Byfleet had come into the ownership of the Crown and from this point on notable figures from history lived at, destroyed, and rebuilt aspects of the manor. Kings, Queens and Princes are said to have visited and/or granted the manor to their favourites over the centuries for use as a hunting lodge; thereby giving Byfleet Manor a rich and varied social history.

There are minimal indents which might suggest a limited number of repairs were undertaken before the introduction of the cement – which in turn might suggest the progressive development of decay. An image was found in a ‘A Village of England – Byfleet’ by LR Stevens dating from 1937 which clearly shows the stonework in good functional order – this would seem to confirm our suspicion that the modern repairs have increased the stone breakdown dramatically.

The Grade II Listed Manor House as it stands today was built around 1686 but incorporates a number of details from the earlier house, including the stone pilasters which adorn the main façade.’ The gate piers are flanked by 10ft high brick walls which form the courtyard. Reference suggests that this is likely to be 18th Century. The two asymmetric wings, to the East and West, were added by former owner in 1905.

The picturesque manor house has found recent celluloid fame, being the on-screen home of Lady Violet Crawley (The Dowager Countess) from Downton Abbey.

Gate Piers

The sizeable gate piers, which stand over 5m tall are typically Jacobean, although are recorded in the listing as being 18th Century in the mannerist style. They are constructed from a heavily shelled, but obviously weak bedded, creamy limestone (possibly from the Bath quarries). They have been repaired poorly with an inappropriate cementicious mortar in the past. This hard repair material has led to an exacerbated breakdown of material and now sees these features in a rather poor condition. A lead capping has been applied to the cap of the pier and heavy sulphation layers can be seen to have built up beneath (where the rain water has not accessed).

There are minimal indents which might suggest a limited number of repairs were undertaken before the introduction of the cement – which in turn might suggest the progressive development of decay. An image was found in a ‘A Village of England – Byfleet’ by LR Stevens dating from 1937 which clearly shows the stonework in good functional order – this would seem to confirm our suspicion that the modern repairs have increased the stone breakdown dramatically.

The ferrous gate pintols which are set deep within the stonework are the cause of some dramatic splitting within the stone piers due to expansion. The urn finials atop the piers are also in poor condition similarly being broken down as a result of internal dowels which are rusting. The East is certainly in the poorest condition, with large vertical vents running up through vase, bowl and socle – it could be considered ‘at point of failure’. There is evidence of previous attempts to stabilise (brass staples) and cement repairs – whilst these may have prevented the full collapse of the urns, they have ultimately played a part in their downfall.

A purist conservation approach was initially considered for the piers, but it looks unlikely that they retain much (if any) structural integrity. Instead, a pragmatic approach was decided upon, as these need to be safe and retain function (supporting the heavy Oak gates which will hang from them).

These initial works, form part of a much larger project which PAYE Conservation were able to negotiate with the owners and will see us complete conservation and restoration works to both house and external buildings over the next 12 months.