Interiors

Kelsey Blain – Development Management Graduate Trainee

When you find yourself in your home a bit more than you’ve been used to you might want to look up and consider your ceilings.

Our Building Conservation Team are particularly keen on the ceilings in older houses and buildings in the North York Moors that have historic interest and value that can be easily lost but could be skilfully repaired.

Ceiling and frieze of the first-floor great chamber, Helmsley Castle, Yorks (c.1582). From http://clairegapper.info/Plaster ceilings (and walls) form an important historic, architectural and aesthetic feature in many of the historic buildings within the National Park and elsewhere. They are often composed of lime or earth and can be finished to varying degrees of ornamentation depending on the status of the building or room in which they are housed. Ornate examples may be found within the high status buildings such as Helmsley Castle (currently closed), where the design and finish of the ceilings often reflects the wealth and standing of the building’s previous residents.

Interior plaster walls and ceilings in Spout House, Bilsdale. Copyright NYMNPA.More functional styles of plaster ceiling can be found within the vernacular buildings of the North York Moors, such as Spout House in Bilsdale (currently closed), where the composition and application of the plaster is indicative of the building’s traditional character.

As such, plaster ceilings and wall coverings provide a useful insight into the cultural and architectural history of a building and make an important contribution to a building’s significance. It is for this reason that the repair of plaster ceilings should always be preferred to their replacement in order to conserve the historic, evidential and aesthetic value that they possess. Furthermore, repairing traditional plasters over replacing them has a lower carbon footprint, and traditional materials better preserve the health of the building.

Here is a recent instance of repairs being carried out to a particularly fine plaster ceiling in nearby York which might not be exactly typical – but repairing all sorts of lath and plaster ceilings is possible. Our Building Conservation team can offer advice and help (by email or phone but currently not in person) if you are lucky enough to have a likely building in the North York Moors.

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