Non-slip tiles to help bats roost after £6 million West Norfolk hall renovation
A multi-million pound renovation project at a West Norfolk stately home will make sure it's not only human visitors who are welcome there.
Specially adapted tiles are being fitted to the roof of Oxburgh Hall in a bid to stop bats sliding off as they access their roosting points.
The tiles have been coated with a mixture of paint and sand, which allows bats to grip the surface, after their original glaze was found to be too slippery.
More than 30 bat openings, with the adapted tiles around them, are also being created as part of the work.
And officials say that should enable the three species of bat which currently roost there - the brown long-eared, common pipistrelle and soprano pipistrelle - to go on doing so.
David White, project manager for the National Trust, said the effort to accommodate the bats followed a specialist survey of the 16th century building.
He said: “There were signs of a maternity roost in the past but the current use has been as day and night roosts for numbers of brown long-eared and common pipistrelle bats.
“We have worked with bat experts to create a new roost in the Bell Tower and installed bat boxes in the trees on the north terrace to provide alternative roosting places whilst the roof works takes place.
“Currently the bell in the Bell Tower can’t be rung, so not to disturb the bats.”
In total, around 14,000 new tiles are being laid on the hall's roof during the restoration programme, which is expected to be completed early next year.
The project was drawn up after one of the hall's dormer windows unexpectedly collapsed five years ago, exposing a structural flaw in the building.
Restoration of the window with the original problem is now nearing completion and 13 other similar windows installed during the 19th century, plus 27 chimneys, are being rebuilt.
Mr White said: “This has been an ambitious project which now runs across every aspect of the roofscape. This major restoration will safeguard Oxburgh’s future.
"The project has certainly come with its challenges, as you’d expect for a 500-year-old building surrounded by a moat. However, it’s rewarding to see the craftsmanship and roofline gradually being revealed, as we inch closer to completion.”
To mark the completion of the window, a time capsule is being place in the roof space next to it, along with tiles signed by people who have worked on the project.
Victoria McKeown, experience and visitor programming manager, said: “Staff, volunteers and contractors have added their own messages to the time capsule, with details about the role they’ve played.
“We’re also including photographs of the project, a newspaper dated from the day the capsule goes in, copies of some of the reports written about the project as well as a few additional items including a face mask, as a nod to the project continuing through a global pandemic.
“It’s a strange feeling to think that people in hundreds of years may discover the box.”
The project has been funded through contributions from National Trust supporters, as well as grants from the Heritage Stimulus Fund (part of the Culture Recovery Fund), the Wolfson Foundation and The National Lottery Heritage Fund.