THE National Trust (NT) is embracing heritage science to give visitors an extraordinary insight into an ambitious £5.4 million scheme to repair a leaking roof and crumbling chimneys which are threatening the future of The Vyne.
Described by the NT as a former Tudor ‘power house’, the 16th century country mansion, located in ancient woodland just outside Sherborne St John near Basingstoke, The Vyne was built for Lord Sandys, King Henry VIII’s Lord Chamberlain.
On the ground floor of the house, which is open to the public, visitors can uncover the visit of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn in 1535, through Immersive ‘moving tapestries’ and music, while in the pre-reformation chapel, a soundscape re-creates a Tudor mass as Henry VIII may have heard it.
Visitors can also learn about a Victorian owner who saved the house from disrepair from 1842 and see two rooms that have been turned into illuminated ‘stores’, featuring a mix of treasures.
However, it is the ‘Lifting the Lid’ project which is currently causing a buzz with a newly opened, all-access, 360° rooftop walkway. Protected from the elements by a huge, metal and shrink-wrap shell, the walkway looks down on to dramatic views of The Vyne’s rooftops, as 71,000 tiles are removed and replaced, above historic interiors such as the 16th century Tudor oak gallery.
The multi-million project is providing a journey of discovery looking at how new technology and centuries-old practices can work together to the damage.
A NT spokesperson: “We’ve developed a range of high and low-tech equipment allowing us to investigate the serious problem of water ingress. By combining simple tools such as hand held moisture meters with more complex methods like 2D resistivity surveys, we can probe into the walls without causing damage.”
Meanwhile, viewing areas give a breath-taking panorama across the wider estate, taking in the north lawn where Tudor buildings once sprawled.
Access to the roof-top walk is via 77 steps or by lift.
Discoveries made about Tudor roof construction, as well as the new techniques being introduced, are revealed in illustrated panels, while knowledgeable volunteer roof guides have lots of fascinating facts to share.
There is also an opportunity to drop a coin down the rooftop money chute or to tag one of the hand-made clay tiles, destined for a spot on the new roof. Every penny raised will go towards The Vyne roof fundraising appeal.
For more details visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/the-vyne