Facelift for Ardress

Ardress House.
Ardress House.
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Traditional skills are being kept alive with the re-rendering of Ardress House in Co Armagh.

his charming 17th-century farmhouse is undergoing a facelift thanks to a significant investment from the National Trust. The conservation charity, is investing £120,000 to reintroduce the original façade of the house and restore it to its former glory.

“When Dublin architect George Ensor built Ardress House in the 1700s, building techniques and materials were very different from those used in the last 50 years.”

Edward Mason, general manager for the National Trust Mid Ulster properties said: “When Dublin architect George Ensor built Ardress House in the 1700s, building techniques and materials were very different from those used in the last 50 years. The original façade was made of weatherproof materials to protect the walls, however in the 1960s a cement-based render was applied to Ardress. This left the building susceptible to problems with damp, cracking render and flaking paint, caused by trapped moisture.”

“To ensure protection of the farmhouse a lime render will be used due to its distinct advantages over cement based render. Lime is less dense and more breathable and closer in strength to many of the types of material used by the Ensors when Ardress was built. The simple advantage of using a lime render is that it allows the walls to breathe and diffuse any water vapour that penetrates into them.”

Local tradesmen will carry out the essential repairs and it is estimated that it will take up to a year to complete. The end result will be the re-instatement of the intended weatherproofing system needed to protect this historic building and ultimately to extend the life of this special place, visited by nearly 8,000 people every year.

Come along to Ardress House, see conservation in action and get up close with these traditional building methods of a bygone age. While you are there take the opportunity to see nature’s splendour on the gentle walks around the garden and woodlands such as ‘The Ladies Mile’. Say hello to the farmyard animals and feed the chickens. Top off your visit with a tour of Ardress House to discover the history behind the 17th- century farmhouse, famous for the elegant neo-classical drawing room, with plasterwork by Michael Stapelton.

Ardress House is open from Thursday-Sunday in July and August and on weekends in September from 1-6pm. For more information call 028 8778 4753 or visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ardress-house.