The Master’s House, Ledbury
Located in the market town of Ledbury, in Herefordshire, the Grade 2* listed Master’s House has a timber frame medieval building at its core, encased in later Georgian and Victorian additions. In March 2015, the five year project was completed to repair and regenerate the building to house local council services, as well as a one stop shop and library for the community.
Butler Hegarty were the architects and historic building consultants on the project, and the main contractors were Speller Metcalfe. Gary Butler, Director at Butler Hegarty Architects spoke to Premier Construction magazine about the project. He commented: “The Master’s House was on English Heritage’s ‘Buildings at Risk’ Register, and had major structural problems. The 18th century structure had impacted on the earlier medieval timber frame, which had consequently started to fail. So the conservation and repair work addressed these issues alongside detrimental later 20th century alterations. We converted The Master’s House from a semi derelict building into a well used public resource, which creates an interface between Herefordshire Council and the public.”
The project was made possible by a grant of £1.25 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and funding from Herefordshire Council. The Master’s House has been regenerated as a valued public building, heritage destination and starting point for the interpretation and understanding of Ledbury’s historic environment.
Gary added: “Already a Friends group helps to run the building and the Master’s House provides a valued community facility. There is also an extensive activities programme related to the history of Ledbury, so you can use the building as an orientation for the rest of the town. I think that’s a great starting point.”
The project is the culmination of a process of evaluation of the various stages of the historic fabric of the building. The building now shows off its impressive timber structure throughout.
“The medieval timber work is extraordinary,” said Gary. “Previously it was all hidden so no one understood that it was there, as it was all within the roof voids. Now you walk in and there is a whole building revealed inside a building. The exterior looks like a small scale and fairly ordinary Georgian building, and then inside, it is completely different and unexpected. Within this 18th and 19th century cloak is a medieval timber frame structure.”
Following the completion of the project, the Master’s House has been short listed for a RICS Award in the West Midland Regional category.
Commenting on the nomination, Gary said: “We are delighted at the nomination because it is such a unique and distinctive project.”
The Master’s House is part of the wider St Katherine’s hospital site, which includes St Katherine’s Chapel, Hall, Barn and Almshouses. It is a rare example of a medieval hospital complex that is still intact.
Gary concluded: “We worked on the Masters house for over six years so it has been a major project in the office. We have been involved right from the beginning with the earliest hand drawn surveys of the medieval timber frame, and there were many complex conservation and design decisions to make along the way.”