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Barholm Old Hall Dovecote - Anthony Goode

2017 Angel Awards runner-up Anthony Goode guided the repair of the 17th-century dovecote in the grounds of Barholm Old Hall in Lincolnshire, persuading the architect and contractors to use earthen mortar and traditional techniques to repair the important historic structure.

Anthony Goode inside the dovecote at Barholm Old Hall, Barholm, Lincolnshire
Anthony Goode inside the dovecote at Barholm Old Hall, Barholm, Lincolnshire

Art of persuasion

The Grade II listed dovecote in the grounds of Barholm Old Hall in Lincolnshire is a complete standing structure that has remained unaltered since the 17th century. The dovecote is rare in that all its internal and external features, including nesting boxes, turrets and all other openings, have been preserved intact. By 2016, however, part of the south wall was at risk of collapse and the scheduled ancient monument was on the Heritage At Risk Register.

The dovecote had been built from local limestone bedded in earthen mortar and over the years water had leaked into the masonry, causing the stonework to bulge and the bedding mortar to erode. To preserve the integrity and significance of the structure, Historic England strongly favoured using authentic materials to repair it, but neither the architect nor contractor knew where to source or how to use earthen mortar. 

It was specialist Anthony Goode who overcame their initial caution and not only persuaded them that the material was up to the job, but steered Historic England towards an important turning point in its approach to the use of authentic materials.

Worker on Barholm Old Hall dovecote site
Worker on Barholm Old Hall dovecote site © Anthony Goode

Mud, glorious, mud

Anthony’s experience and expert knowledge of earthen mortars guided the project every step of the way, beginning with the search for suitable subsoil in the surrounding area. Anthony was able to determine whether the subsoil had the right clay content to make earthen mortar just by rubbing it between his fingers into small balls to make a sausage. He also used more sophisticated tests to check that the earthen mortar matched the original and was appropriate for the project. Under his guidance, the contractors rolled up their sleeves and got stuck into working with the most basic of materials, with stunning results.

Exterior of Barholm Old Hall dovecote showing chimneys and brickwork
Exterior of the dovecote at Barholm Old Hall © Anthony Goode


In addition to dismantling and rebuilding the unstable stonework with earthen mortar, the team repaired the roof and windows and repointed the dovecote. The project, which began in April 2016 and was completed in December of that year, has not just taken an important historic building off the Heritage At Risk Register but spearheaded future use of authentic materials and traditional techniques. The architect is now confident about specifying earthen mortar for similar projects in future, and the contractors have learned new skills in using these materials.

Exposed wall of Barholm Old Hall dovecote during repair work
Exposed wall of Barholm Old Hall dovecote during repair work © Anthony Goode

Why this category?

Throughout his professional life, Anthony has consistently passed on his skills and expert knowledge to other craftspeople and this project continues that legacy. With over 50 years’ experience in the conservation and repair of traditional buildings, particularly in the repair of earthen materials, Anthony has personally helped to keep the skills of earthen construction alive.

After training as a bricklayer under the City and Guilds system, Anthony established his own contracting firm and began specialising in the repair and conservation of traditional buildings. He gained a postgraduate diploma in Building Conservation and has travelled widely to consult or work on high-profile conservation projects. He has developed expertise in areas including earth structures and gypsum plaster and has produced several well regarded technical papers. A member of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) for more than 20 years, Anthony has run many training courses and hosted many young SPAB scholars and craft fellows. In this way, he has been an inspirational mentor to countless craftspeople and conservation professionals. Today, his family business, A.J. Goode, specialises in the conservation, adaptation and repair of old, ecclesiastical and historic buildings. 

The legacy of this project cannot be overstated. The project provides a template for specifying earthen mortars in other restoration projects and a case study will be published so that others can learn from it. This successful restoration has demonstrated what can be achieved when the owner, architect, funder and contractor and consultant are prepared to put their faith in specialist knowledge that does not rely on sophisticated technology or hi-tech products. As an important component of a 17th-century manorial complex, the dovecote at Barholm Old Hall preserves valuable evidence of the way in which dovecotes functioned both symbolically and economically in high-status establishments of this period. Its restoration shows that using the most basic building materials can produce stunning results and boosts confidence about their future use in heritage restoration projects.

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