Refurbishment at Swarkestone Pavilion

Refreshing the miniature prodigy house

Swarkestone Pavilion near Ticknall, Derbyshire, is a fine example of playful 17th-century architecture. Linked to the long-lost Swarkestone Hall, this example of a miniature prodigy house was built to provide a grandstand view of whatever activity went on in the enclosure in front of it. 

In this blog, Jo Quinby, Regional Property Manager, North & Central England and the Channel Islands, takes us through a few of the things that needed to be considered during a substantial refurbishment.

Swarkestone PavilionSwarkestone Pavilion.

Forward planning 

When we are planning a big refurbishment such as this, it is not only is a chance to refresh and update a property, it’s also a great opportunity to re-evaluate other things. Typically we'd have a good look through customer feedback, thanks to the guests who take time to provide it after their stay and see what else we can improve. For Regional Property Managers in particular, the maintenance and improvements programme can span up to 30 properties per region.

Detailed planning before any project is essential. Each piece of furniture in our buildings has been specially chosen, so before any work can begin, the pieces have to be moved and stored correctly. Any furnishing issues or requests need to then be placed with Landmark’s Furnishings Manager, John Evetts. We then work out whether John will need to take any furniture away and when he is able to refurnish a building, all before we re-open.

Swarkestone interiorVarious items and furniture needed to be stored carefully during the refurbishment project.

Logistical planning is also a big part of our projects and during this particular refurbishment, Stuart Leavy, Assistant Surveyor North West and Berriedale, had to coordinate multiple contractors in a small space, ensuring that they were given enough space to carry out their tasks, whilst fitting in with the timeframe of the closure.

Guest feedback is reviewed

It is not only furnishings and building works which are carried out during a refurbishment, but it is also a chance to reassess our guest’s requirements and utilise any feedback we are given.  We replaced the bed base and mattress, and chair covers and cushions were taken for cleaning and repairs.

A new bed base and mattress are now at Swarkestone Pavilion.

As Swarkestone is a smaller property with very limited storage space, in order to protect the more delicate items, they were kindly taken and stored by John Broadhurst, Housekeeper from Knowle Hill. These included the property’s library books, visitor logbooks and other visitor information. This meant that the items were stored safely and carefully away from the disruption in a warm dry place. Other Relief Housekeepers - Dorothy Hubball and Gill Wood alongside Swarkestone Housekeeper Eloise Hubball were a big help with the project, helping to move items to make way for the refurbishment and ensuring Swarkestone was clean and tidy in time for guests.

Swarkestone LibraryThe Library books, logbook and visitor information were all packed away and stored safely.

Practical changes

At Swarkestone a more practical consideration was storage for the Housekeeper’s equipment. Vacuum cleaners and other items such as cleaning products have to be carried around the property. Linen and towels need to be carried up and down stairs – we need to ask ourselves: are there any health and safety measures that we can reasonably consider, to prevent accidents? To solve this potential problem and combat this storage issue, we came up with the idea of creating a “cupboard within a cupboard” which was then handmade by Mark Smitten at our workshop in Honeybourne and fitted by our craft trainee, Bill Berkley.                     

Swarkestone cupboardAbove and below: The 'cupboard within a cupboard' allows for more, secure storage space for
Swarkestone's Housekeepers.

Swarkestone cupboardNext, we discussed the cleaning of the curtains at Swarkestone. Unfortunately once the sitting room curtains were taken down and laundered ready for relining, it was found that the wear and tear of 32 years had taken too much of a toll on the fabric and so John Evetts organised new curtains. The new curtains have been sourced and hung and are thicker and interlined to keep heat in. Swarkestone Pavilion was designed to track the sunlight throughout the day, with the building then basking in the midday sun. Susan Wright, Housekeeper at The Music Room also made some beautiful curtains for the bathroom (below), to replace the original roller blinds. 

Housekeeper, Susan Wright's beautiful new curtains.

Ready for guests

Even in such a small building, all in all, it took a team of five staff members: Jo Quinby (Regional Property Manager) Fiona Bullock (Properties Assistant) Eloise Hubball (Housekeeper) Dorothy Hubball and Gill Wood (Relief Housekeepers) two days to put the building back together ready to welcome guests. Furnishings were replaced, kitchen equipment was cleaned, pictures and the mirror were rehung, linens were folded and stored ready for use, library books were safely returned to the bookcase, wooden floors were cleaned throughout and the ornate handrail on the stairs was re-waxed.

Swarkestone Pavilion's beautiful staircase


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Read other maintenance blogs here.