With substantial funds provided by private investors, the subsidised purchase of ‘The Gatehouse’ is a continuing project which should be welcomed by local historians and anyone who appreciates fine architecture.
The renovation project, which is expected to be completed in September 2018, is reliant upon the semi-charitable efforts of several local businesses; Rochester Building and Damp being the sole provider of initial structural works and damp treatment.
As the purchase and subsequent continued restoration has remained intentionally discreet, the Rochester Building and Damp team are most grateful that their exhaustive efforts have been acknowledged with a blue plaque.
The property (referred to locally as the “Old Vicarage”) was formerly owned by the Church of England and fell into disrepair some years ago. Indeed, the Church retains ownership of the land on which the building resides, but in an unconventional arrangement, the grade 2 listed property was sold-on in hopes of providing a complete restoration.
The property was originally constructed by the Church of England as the gate house for a private estate. When the estate was demolished in the late 19th Century, the gatehouse was left untouched and remained in use as a Vicarage for many years.
An initial survey in 2015 concluded that deterioration to both timber and masonry was irreparable.
A separate independent survey conducted by Rochester Building and Damp in 2016 disputed such claims and discredited a number of findings from the original 46 page report. Subsequently Rochester Building and Damp received the contract and agreed to undertake works on a semi-voluntary basis.
Despite a series of set-backs ranging from rebuilding collapsed drainage to logistical difficulties involved in obtaining almost entirely reclaimed materials, the project is currently running marginally ahead of schedule.