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The Cullompton Walronds Preservation Trust has restored a Grade I Listed Tudor/Jacobean mansion in the centre of the old town of Cullompton in Devon.

The property now known as The Walronds was bought by Henry Parish in 1564 when the Manor of Cullompton was sold in parcels following the dissolution of the Abbey of Buckland, its former owner.

The building facing Fore Street was erected between 1602 and 1605 following a disastrous fire which also destroyed the properties where the Merchant’s House and Manor Hotel now stand. The arms of Henry’s granddaughter and heiress, Emlyn Parish, and her husband, John Peter, builder of the new house, are on the overmantels in the hall and first floor parlour.

After the Civil War the property was bought by Sir John Portman and leased to his political allies, the Walronds of Bradfield, who gave the property their name though they were never the owners. Subsequent owners were the Bakers of Tiverton and the Sydenhams. The Reverend George Sydenham died in debt to the Solicitor Alfred Burrow, whose office was in the Merchant’s House next door. Burrow foreclosed on the mortgage and spent a great deal of money repairing and restoring the property.

After the Second World War the Burrow family sold the house to Mr Neatby. In 1954 Miss I V Yeoman bought the northern range where she lived with her niece, Miss June Severn.  In 1956 she bought the remainder of the property and on her death bequeathed it to Miss Severn.  Lack of funds forced Miss Severn to sell off three plots of land at the Western end of the burgage plot where the bungalows Laurel Dene and Little Walronds are now located. Later she had to sell the south range to the twin sisters Beatrice and Daphne Reeves. These three ladies bequeathed the property to the Cullompton Walronds Preservation Trust which Miss Severn had caused to be established under the chairmanship of Mrs Jane Campbell.

With strong support from the town, District and County Councils and with advice from English Heritage and the Architectural Heritage Fund, a programme of inspections and reports was carried out which made it possible to apply for major funding.

Renovation began in October 2012 thanks to generous grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, Devon County Council and many others and reached completion in March 2014.  Work was undertaken by Splitlath Building Conservation Ltd of Hereford with many local sub-contractors being employed.

Splitlath repair, maintain and conserve historic buildings using traditional methods, the company employs skilled craftsmen who specialise in the conservation of ancient and historic buildings. In addition to carrying out on-going conservation building work across the UK, Splitlath also research and develop new building techniques and materials.

Speaking about their involvement in the development, Director of Splitlath, Shaun Gay said: “I am pleased to say that Splitlath pride ourselves on our use of traditional materials which are compatible with those at The Walronds.  We used local subcontractors on this project and sourced local materials.  With commitment to and investment in research and development, this enabled us to give our clients the benefit of more efficient and cost effective conservation solutions.”

Shaun added:

“With my considerable expertise and management experience comes a deep understanding of both the complexities and intricacies inherent in historic building projects.”

SW Sodablast ltd worked alongside Splitlath on the project, the company restored certain wooden elements of the mansion using sodablast cleaning. The method involved projecting non-abrasive sodium bicarbonate (Baking Soda) against the surface to be cleaned using compressed air.  Sodium bicarbonate particles remove contaminants by means of the energy released when the soda particles ‘explode’ (crush) on contact with the surface.

The non-abrasive energy transfer action allows it to lift any contaminate off most surfaces such as aluminium, steel, stainless steel, brick, sandstone, marble, glass, fibreglass, wood, plastic, bearings, seals, hydraulic cylinders and more.

Director, Tim Willson said: “To strip an oak staircase and balustrades of paint and wood fillers in Walronds we used soda blasting as it was the most efficient and sympathetic means to do so.  Soda blasting is a preferred blast cleaning method in listed buildings as it can preserve the integrity of common substrata surfaces found in listed building materials such as oak, stone, brick and tile.”

With the completion of the project the Cullompton Walronds Preservation Trust (CWPT) will now let a 50 year lease on the upper floors of the house, the inner garden, the car park and connecting path to their project partner, the Vivat Trust.

The Vivat Trust will exploit the possibilities of the property and its excellent location for holiday letting.  The CWPT will use the ground floor and outer garden as a community resource as was done before closure for repair. Usage will be increased by better facilities for disabled access, better toilets and a large and well-equipped kitchen.

For more information Walronds please visit: www.walronds.com.

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