Old House Project

We look at one of SPAB’s on-going restoration projects which aims to show what can be done to bring an ‘at risk’ building back into use.

Although called a chapel, which was probably associated with the adjoining Boxley Abbey, Grade II* listed St Andrews Chapel became a house early on in its history. Dating from the 15th century, it has a colourful past: it was owned by Tudor poet Thomas Wyatt and acted as a local post office in the 20th century. The house still has its original open timber roof. It has been vacant and on the Heritage at Risk Register for many years and remains as a hidden time capsule.

When the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) bought the building in November 2018 it was hidden behind an overgrown garden; vandal damage had left the site vulnerable; and parts of the roof were leaking. They are working with Historic England and others to bring the building back to life. Known as their ‘Old House Project,’ SPAB’s aim is to showcase the very best conservation methods and materials to repair this medieval building. Over the summer, there was a working party held at Boxley Abbey and a lime kiln was set up in the grounds of St Andrew’s for the production of ‘hot lime’.

Photos: Ralph Hodgson

The most urgent repairs are to prop the west gable which is moving away from the rest of the building as well as roof repairs, repointing, and guttering works.

SPAB are increasingly concerned about the decline of craft skills in the UK. A fifth of their housing stock is pre-1919 but much of the maintenance and repair work on these buildings is undertaken by people without specialist skills. In purchasing St Andrews SPAB have embarked on a five-year project to repair this characterful medieval building whilst showcasing the very best conservation methods and materials.

Sponsor a Tile

SPAB need quite a few tiles to repair the roof at St Andrews and are very excited to be working with a consortium of the country’s leading clay tile specialists, who are helping to source the right clay, experiment with firing techniques and make each and every new tile needed. They also hope to build a demonstration clamp kiln in the garden at St Andrews, where they may be able to fire a small batch of tiles from their very own gault clay subsoil.

Sponsor a tile today and you will become a lasting part of SPAB’s efforts to save St Andrews Chapel.

Photo: Christian Montez

All donations to the campaign will go to support the Old House Project and to thank you for your generosity they will:

  • Enter your name, your company name or the name of the recipient in the SPAB time capsule
  • Send you a commemorative gift card
  • Enter you into a draw for tickets to the capsule burial ceremony

For more information visit:

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