Historic Blickling Hall ceiling repaired

Blickling Hall. Picture: Danielle Booden

The long gallery ceiling at Blickling Hall needs a series of repairs - Credit: Danielle Booden

For four hundred years, it has been gazed at by lords, ladies and - more recently - members of the public.

But the grand ceiling above Blickling Hall's Long Gallery, has been showing its age prompting fears it could crumble down.

Now, after a major renovation project, the room's ornate plasterwork has been made safe and restored to its former glory.

The work has addressed years of damage from an infestation of deathwatch beetles and previous repairs which caused cracks in the ceiling.

Reports commissioned by the National Trust found it was in a "delicate condition" with "cracking patterns present".

The project has now been completed, but the trust, which owns the property, has just submitted retrospective plans to Broadland District Council, detailing the work carried out.

It focused on repairing pendants - which hang down from the ceiling - and the cornices - decorative edging.

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Repairs were carried out from the eaves and attic space on the floor above the ceiling, where workers restored the laths - or wooden pieces onto which the plaster is fixed.

Officials from the trust said the materials used were appropriate to the rest of the building and have a "minimal" impact.

Margaret Ratcliffe dressed as Anne Boleyn at Blickling Hall. Guided tours will be given around the h

Margaret Ratcliffe dressed as Anne Boleyn at Blickling Hall. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

A stainless steel rod was installed into each pendant and timber framing introduced into the eaves on the east wall, where investigation work found a lack of supporting structures for the pendants or cornice.

It also found evidence that elements had been significantly disturbed by structural alterations at the hall in 1974.

Other damage was blamed on deathwatch beetles, which create small holes in wood, damaging timber and causing structural decay.

The report found there was "clear evidence that extensive death watch beetle was present within the structural timbers".

The newly restored pendant that was damaged by Death Watch Beetles in Blickling Hall. Pictured is Se

A previously repaired pendant in another area of Blickling Hall - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Blickling has been at the forefront of pioneering new conservation methods. Earlier this year, the National Trust said it was using wasps to tackle clothes moths, which were damaging items at the hall.

The Trust said a trial - which has seen microscopic parasitoid wasps introduced to lay eggs inside the moths' own eggs - had been a success, cutting moth numbers by 83pc. 

Anne Boleyn (1533-36) Oil on CanvasNational Portrait Gallery (NPG 668)Picture: National Port

Anne Boleyn, who was born at Blickling Hall. - Credit: National Portrait Gallery

THE LONG GALLERY

The National Trust describe the Long Gallery as "perhaps the most remarkable room at Blickling".

It was built for Sir Henry Hobart, who owned the hall in the 17th century, for social activity and exercise in bad weather.

It houses 10,000 books and is considered one of the most important libraries in the country.

Blickling Estate normally attracts around 200,000 visitors a year. The manor house was built between 1616 and 1626, on the site of a late medieval moated hall, also called Blickling, which is where Anne Boleyn and her siblings were born at the start of the 1500s.

After the Boleyn family, the house passed through several notable hands and served as an officers' mess in the Second World War for the nearby RAF Oulton.