Breathing life back into Snitterton Hall

THE ONLY Grade One listed building in Matlock has been fully restored to its original Elizabethan splendour.

Snitterton Hall, one of Derbyshire's most important historic houses, has undergone a seven-year restoration relying on authentic materials and traditional craftsmanship.

The hall, built in the 1630s, is a rare surviving example of an Elizabethan manor house in a substantially original state.

It was in a derelict condition and had not been lived in for some years when Paul Caplan bought it as his family home in 1996.

Mr Caplan, who also hopes to restore Riber Castle, said: "When I first saw Snitterton I was immediately impressed despite its condition.

"We realised it could make a marvellous family home and went ahead and bought it.

"From the start I resolved to restore it as near as possible to its original condition which created some real challenges but all the effort has been well worthwhile.

"Historic buildings need to be treated with sympathy and care. In the past, terrible mistakes have been made with unsympathetic restorations, use of the wrong materials and modern additions which were completely inappropriate but I think that lessons have been learned."

This week, Mr Caplan and supervising architect Adam Bench, from Buxton, signed off the final details of a project which involved tracking down the few specialist craftsmen still familiar with traditional materials and skills.

During Snitterton's restoration, the entire roof was removed and the timber, riddled with deathwatch beetle, wet and dry rot, was either restored or replaced with 17th Century oak timber.

The original lime ash attic floors were restored and plasterwork throughout the building was replaced with authentic clay, straw and lime mix.

The exterior stonework, in parts damaged through age and atmospheric pollution, was protected using a special micro-porous resin.

The gardens have also been restored in the late Elizabethan-Jacobean style with extensive terraces and lawns and formal box hedging.

Architect Mr Bench said: "Snitterton was saved just in time. Another two or three years and it might have been too late."

By Will Kilner