Channel Islands, Heritage

Esperanza brought back to life

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The National Trust of Guernsey- Heritage

The National Trust of Guernsey has been working on a number of projects to preserve the heritage of some of the island’s most beautiful buildings.

Esperanza House is one of a pair of semi-detached houses that were built around 1820 in a regency style, faced with Guernsey granite.

Andrew Dyke, Charted Architect and Managing Director of CCD Architects told premier Construction about the project. He said:

“Esperanza is a very attractive building that was acquired by the National Trust of Guernsey about 15 years ago and has been let out to tenants for a number of years.

The National Trust of Guernsey- Heritage

“Recently one of the tenants left and it was found that the property was actually in very poor condition and needed extending so we carried out a complete refurbishment of the house.

“As it’s a historic building it had to be done with good conservation principles and taking into account the requirements of the specific Guernsey architecture we have here.”

The £167,000 project began in January 2012 and was completed in October 2012. The main contractor on the project was W Mosgrove Ltd and the architect was CCD Architects.

The National Trust of Guernsey- Heritage

A two-storey extension was added to the rear of the house, providing a larger kitchen, utility area and a shower room on the ground floor and a new bathroom on the first floor.

Andrew said:

“There was a lot of dampness in the building and generally the accommodation was below standard. In terms of the refurbishment of Esperanza, we made sure we were sympathetic to the historical nature of the building. We were using things like lime mortar and lime plaster, and repaired the existing windows rather than replacing them.

“We didn’t find any particularly unusual things because we were already very familiar with the building. It has some very beautiful fire places and some lovely joinery so those had to be conserved, repaired and preserved for the future.”

The National Trust of Guernsey- Heritage

Andrew has worked with the National Trust of Guernsey for over 25 years. CCD architects are currently working on nine different projects for the National Trust of Guernsey which are in various stages of completion.

“We actually do all the work for the National Trust of Guernsey and I advise them on all of their historic properties. It’s fascinating to be involved with them; it’s a great privilege because Guernsey is quite unique.

The National Trust of Guernsey- Heritage

“It’s different to the UK, it’s different to France, it’s even different to Jersey. The buildings are quite special so it really requires a lot of experience in order to understand how these buildings are put together.

“In terms of working on older buildings, often there is the opportunity to find exciting things that have been hidden for years. It didn’t happen with Esperanza but sometimes we will uncover fireplaces that have been hidden for 200 years, we have also found cannon ball damage from the civil war and human bones. You never know exactly what you’re going to find.

The National Trust of Guernsey- Heritage

“It’s a great privilege but also a great responsibility because you are looking after things which are important for the community as a whole but also important for future generations.”

Antoinette Martin, Trainee Architectural Technologist at CCD Architects worked on the project throughout the refurbishment of Esperanza.

“The extension was to fit in with the existing rear elevation. It was interesting project to work on because it’s an old house yet with the new extension, I learnt to deal with the old and the new.

“It’s good working with the National Trust of Guernsey because it means I’ve been able to work on such an unusual building and gain experience that I might not have been able to have otherwise.”

The National Trust of Guernsey- Heritage

The National Trust of Guernsey is also working on a number of other projects, including Les Caches Old Farm, which forms part of the same property as Esperanza.

The National Trust of Guernsey restored the building to how it would have been in 1800 using traditional materials such as clay mortar, wattle and daub and putting thatch back onto the roof.

Andrew said:

“Les Caches Old Farm was a very exciting project – it’s now visited by hundreds of people every year and it forms part of the Guernsey folk museum.

The National Trust of Guernsey- Heritage

“We also worked on a really interesting smaller project, the restoration of a water wheel out in the countryside on the west side of Guernsey. The actual water wheel hadn’t been used for 50 years and had long since disappeared, but the mill and adjoining buildings were given to the trust in a legacy and one of the conditions was that the water wheel should be restored.

The National Trust of Guernsey- Heritage

“We found some old photographs which showed the original water wheel so we were able to use those as a basis for actually finding and then constructing a new one. The wheel was constructed by students who were apprentices in carpentry and joinery at the local college of further education. It’s a beautiful addition to Guernsey’s countryside.”

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