The grade ||* listed Cloister sits within the Peto gardens on the Iford Manor Estate in Freshford just outside the City of Bath. The Peto gardens take their name from their designer Harold Peto the famous landscape Architect whom bought and resided at the Estate until 1933.
The cloister is built in an Italianate style comprising of one entrance up stone steps to a central courtyard surrounded on all four sides by a cloistered arcade. In the centre of the courtyard sits a well brought in by Peto from Aquilegia Italy. Constructed mainly from Bath stone in rubble form externally with dressed ashlar internally it is only the fine marble columns that support the arcade that differ.
It was during the hot weather in 2018 that the building became vulnerable. With half of the building sitting on clay and the other on bedrock a long period of dry hot weather meant that the clay contracted and the building subsided quite considerably to one half. Cracks as big a 40mm opened up in the ashlar walls and the marble columns were perilously close to parting ways with the walls they supported.
Corbel Were enlisted by John Mann of Mann Williams Structural Engineers to carry out the emergency repair and stabilisation work. The scheme entailed extensive underpinning, the addition of new footings and some serious temporary works to enable it all. In order to dismantle the columns and the dwarf walls which they sat on we had to construct timber form work carefully scribed to the exact dimensions of each arch. Temporary footings were cast both within the arcade and within the courtyard. Slim shore props were hired, a row of which were set either side of the arcade walls on top of the temporary footing and finally some 30 steels beams were laced between each arch and under each piece of formwork to hold the building up.
The time had now come to carefully remove the columns and the dwarf walls from two elevations, essentially what we were left with was a half a building suspended in mid air for several weeks. The design worked extremely well monthly monitoring of pre-set targets was carried out and the building held firm until the new footings were in, walls re-built and columns re-seated in a now vertical position. We were then able to remove all of the temporary propping and start with the next phase of work which would be the external walls.
The outer walls had suffered the same movement as the inner but these had to be dealt with in a different manner. We could not prop these in the same way so a course of hit and miss underpinning was carried out until all of the affected walls sat on a new solid foundation.
To conclude we carried out rendering to the arcade walls, crack repairs and pointing and finished all of the walls and ceilings with several fresh coats of limewash. There were many nervous times on this project due to the nature of the work, however careful planning and expert assistance from the project engineer prevailed. The building now stands firm and will once again be enjoyed by the thousands of visitors that come each year to enjoy Harold Peto’s masterpiece.
Contract Period; 25 weeks
Engineer: Mann William Structural Engineers
Client: The Iford Manor Estate
Contract Value: £220,000