Work has started on a major project to renovate the iconic entrance Rotunda at Northwood House in Cowes, funded by a grant from the Coastal Revival Fund.
The Rotunda, opened in 1838, is a unique Georgian structure. The dome was formed over bricks using Medina cement render to the internal and external faces. Through the years, various repairs have been undertaken, but the structure suffers badly from water damage. Many layers of later coatings, including paint, bitumen and plaster, have been carefully removed to find the original dome that George Henry Ward would have seen.
The dome roof is a critical part of the project to restore the Rotunda to its original splendour as the grand entrance to Northwood House, an entrance that has welcomed prime ministers, dignitaries, royalty and the Isle of Wight community for over 180 years.
In addition to the roof project, detailed restoration is taking place inside the building, including stripping layers of paint from the Georgian pillars, cleaning and refurnishing the historic stone floor and repainting the interior in period colours.
Tim Wander, the Charity’s Project Manager, said: “As always, once you peel back the layers of an old building, there are always some unwelcome surprises and challenges to overcome. But we have a great team on site and some ground-breaking technical solutions to recently found structural issues that have just been agreed with Historic England.”
Roseleen Cullen, Chair of the Charity, said: “We are delighted that this essential work is underway to preserve and protect this unique part of the House, through which visitors, staff and tenants pass every day. The House has watched over and supported the town and people of Cowes for over 180 years, and this work will ensure it can continue to do so long into the future.”
Work on the project is hoped to be completed by the first week in June, subject to weather and any unforeseen factors, in time for the busy summer event season at Northwood House.