Astley Castle February 2018

by Stuart Leavy

Stuart Leavy (Craft Team Leader) and his team had 20 days to carry out important repairs at Astley Castle in Nuneaton, Warwickshire.

Concealed behind part of the wall panelling at Astley Castle is a rainwater pipe that sheds the water from a large flat roof above both double bedrooms on the ground floor. It was discovered that this pipework had a leak, as was indicated when gapping appeared in the parquet flooring nearby. The leaking moisture had been finding its way under the floor, where it was then being dried by the underfloor heating. This wetting and drying shrunk the boards and caused them to cup.

Our in-house craftsmen were tasked with solving the problem; the leaking pipework was to be replaced, the damaged structural timbers removed and replaced with steel structures, and finally the floor replaced. We had 20 days to carry out these repairs and have the building open for guests. 

The first job was to expose the leaking pipe and identify all the elements of timber work that needed replacing. We had to remove the window soffit and re-make the frame-work and insulate, as well as removing the vertical timber supports before we could fit the steel which was the replacement for the vertical structural timbers.

The pipework was a challenge to replace as we had to reach it from the underside which meant carefully cutting around timber beams to get to the underside of the flat roof above. This was a full arm’s length of cutting directly up to give a simple image of what was involved. This took all of the first week, and by halfway through the second week we were able to position and fix the steel support in place. Once complete, we could start putting everything back together.


We renewed the timber panelling that had to be cut to gain access so the whole thing looked good as new. We then removed the damaged floor, repaired the sub-floor, and finally put the new floor down. We sourced the oak floor from Sweden and had it specially imported as it had to be an exact copy of flooring elsewhere in the castle. Once laid, the whole thing was sanded and finished with a white lye and master floor oil to match existing. 

The whole job was completed in 19 days by our superb in-house craftsmen.