Conservation Project at Ickworth to get Underway

A year- long programme of the most ambitious conservation work the National Trust has ever carried out at Ickworth is set to get underway this year, securing its future for generations to come.

The work, costing just under £5 million, will be taking place thanks to the generosity of National Trust members and supporters, together with a fundraising appeal.

Thanks to additional grant-funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Trust will also be able offer visitors the opportunity to experience Ickworth in a completely new way. 

Called ‘Ickworth Uncovered’ the conservation project will see Ickworth’s iconic Rotunda roof re-tiled by a team of craftsmen, whilst work on the East Wing roof to prevent rainwater leaking in will protect the collection housed inside. The installation of lightning protection to the roof will add an additional layer of protection. 

It is the biggest conservation works that Ickworth has ever seen and work started at the beginning of the year with the movement of 2,500 collection items from storage areas where the construction work will be taking place.

Whilst work is underway, and thanks to an £85,000 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Ickworth team will also be presenting new opportunities for visitors to experience the house, as well as share more about the project work.

From a live video feed directly from the Rotunda roof to new ways of seeing more of the collection, the grant will enable visitors to delve deeper into the story of Ickworth and see this special place uncovered. 

Each part of the work is a vast undertaking thanks to the sheer scale of Ickworth, with work just to build scaffolding around the Rotunda expected to take at least two months, before 7,000 slates will be taken off of the domed roof and replaced, together weighing 42 tonnes and each one individually shaped and sized to create the dome.  

The highly complex engineer-designed scaffold enclosing the whole of the Rotunda, including a temporary roof, will begin to be erected late summer, with work on the roof due to start in late autumn. 

Throughout the year, visitors will be able to discover how the project progresses and from January 2020, thanks to the grant from The Fund, see a new and exciting way of exploring Ickworth, called Experiencing Ickworth Uncovered, both within the house and outside. 

Andrew Rowson, Project Manager, said: “Ickworth Uncovered will help safeguard Ickworth and its highly significant collections for years to come. The craftsmanship that went into building Ickworth is incredible, but it is also natural that over time repairs will be needed. We are working with highly specialised team, to ensure we honour this historical craftsmanship. From individually cutting the slate on site to form a domed roof, to the complexities of erecting scaffolding around a historic building. We are looking forward to the challenge and sharing our progress with visitors.” 

Tim Watson, General Manager, said “We are very excited by what visitors will see during Ickworth Uncovered. Any major project which affects how Ickworth is presented will have its challenges but we are working hard to develop an experience for visitors to see Ickworth, its collections and its buildings, in a completely new way. We look forward to visitors seeing a different part of our story and supporting us in our journey to secure Ickworth’s legacy for future years. 

“We are especially grateful to The National Lottery Heritage Fund for supporting our project and helping us to share our work more widely, in an innovative and contemporary way."

Anne Jenkins, Director, England: Midlands & East, The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “Ickworth Uncovered will provide visitors with the perfect opportunity to get up close and personal to the fascinating conservation work, and enable them to explore the enviable collections and buildings of Ickworth, whilst learning new stories and discovering unseen treasures. We’re delighted that National Lottery money will open up these doors for a host of new audiences.”  

Whilst the grant from The Fund will enable the National Trust to present Ickworth in a new way whilst the conservation work is ongoing, the charity is also fundraising to help support the significant investment into Ickworth’s future. You can find out more here: