The Vyne stately home, roof renovation with Keymer tiles

Case Study

The Vyne

Constructed between 1500 and 1520, The Vyne is a spectacular Tudor mansion steeped in rich history, with many fascinating stories taking place under its roof. When storms hit hard in Winter 2015, the roof started to fail and The Vyne had to be rescued using Keymer Traditional Antique Plain tiles.

This family home was originally built for Lord William Sandys, one of King Henry VIII’s Lord Chamberlains. Surrounded by ancient woodlands and 13 acres of stunning gardens, this beautiful Hampshire home has also inspired great authors such as Jane Austen.

The Vyne was passed to the National Trust in 1956 and since then visitors from far and wide have visited this precious piece of historical architecture. The 1,600m² roof of this former Tudor “power house” was suffering from a leaking roof, a crumbling chimney and rotten roof timbers.

The National Trust team sprang into action to protect the valuable and irreplaceable contents of the house as rainwater started dripping through the ceiling.

They embarked on a £5.4 million project to construct a brand new roof, which would mean replacing all 71,000 tiles, rebuilding chimney stacks, fixing battens and leadwork and installing new insulation. Having carried out small patch repairs in the past, this was the first major roof refurbishment since 1842.

Keymer handmade clay tiles were chosen to help return the roof of The Vyne to its former glory. Keymer is the only manufacturer still using Weald clay to craft roof tiles by hand. This material was a natural choice for this project as it is native to the local area and would have likely been used on the original roof as it can be found in the ground deep beneath The Vyne estate. Keymer Traditional Antique plain tiles were selected for their inherent character which will age beautifully over time.

Experienced in working on restoration projects, the Heritage Services team were on hand to offer their advice and support, working closely with the National Trust to ensure that the roofing products supplied met all the required regulations.

The Vyne roof is a complicated and vast structure featuring many elevations. A team of skilled roofers from Ken Biggs Contractors Ltd fitted the handmade tiles. A rooftop walkway with viewing platforms was built around the scaffolding to give over 140,000 visitors the unique opportunity to take a closer look at the roof conservation project while work was underway.

Archaeologists and heritage science researchers from the University Oxford worked alongside the contractors to discover the secrets of how the 500 year old building was constructed. Once the scaffolding was taken away, the finished roof was revealed.

Close up image of the new Keymer Traditional Antique tile roof

"Keymer Traditional Antique plain tiles were selected

for their inherent character which will age beautifully over time."

The Keymer team don’t just make tiles, they immerse themselves on every project they work on and help bring old buildings back to life.

On this project, they gave additional support to National Trust’s fundraising efforts which proved vital for the progress of the roof restoration.

At a number of special “Make a Tile” and “Tag a Tile” events held at The Vyne, our team invited visitors to try clay tile-making for a small donation. Visitors could make a tile, marked in traditional Keymer fashion with a hand print, or write their own message on the back of a pre-fired tile which would be installed on the new roof.

This proved extremely popular with visitors and raised £64,000 for the renovation project. 12,885 tiles that were either made or tagged by members of the public have become part of The Vyne’s new roof. 

Hollie Ryan, Visitor Experience and Fundraising Manager at The Vyne, commented: “Working with the team from Keymer was a lovely experience as they are as passionate about heritage as I am. When the team came to make tiles with our visitors, they put in a great amount of enthusiasm and energy, which really helped us with fundraising to make the project possible.”


Project Summary

  • Location: Sherborne St. John, Basingstoke
  • Contractor: Ken Biggs Contractors Ltd
  • Architects: Nick Cox Architects
Products Used
  • Keymer Traditional Antique Plain Tiles

To find out more and enquire about using Keymer handmade tiles on your project, visit the Keymer website now.

The Vyne Tudor mansion with landscaped lawn and trees

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