Reconstruction of a demolished hermitage

Reconstruction of a demolished hermitage

The Hermitage, Painshill Park, reconstructed in 2007. Photographed August 2008 by Mike Gove. Copyright Mike Gove.The Hermitage, Painshill Park, reconstructed in 2007. Photographed August 2008 by Mike Gove. Copyright Mike Gove.

Feature

The Hermitage

Site

Painshill Park, Surrey

Issue

Reconstruction of a demolished garden building, the Hermitage.

Background

The Hermitage was, according to Thomas Whateley's description of 1770, composed of logs and roots. It had a thatched roof and Gothic windows. An 18th-century drawing of the Hermitage by a Mr Sckell, found in the Bodleian Library, Oxford University, provided further evidence of the building's appearance.

The building had become derelict by the mid-20th century and was chopped up for firewood by the military during the Second World War.

Archaeologists had uncovered the original foundations of the building, but these were too weak to be built upon.

Solution

In 2007 the building was re-created by the Painshill site team in just six weeks, using pre-fabricated panels constructed on site. The design was based on the Sckell drawing, and the new Hermitage was located about one foot away from the old foundations.

The team created a concrete base, and installed a frame made of oak and Douglas fir from the park and a joisted wooden floor. Timber panels made of logs and tree trunks also salvaged from the Painshill site were attached to the frame and rendered with tile cement to give an aged look. A thatcher was brought in to re-create the roof. Windows and shutters, were made by the site team, plus some rustic-looking furniture for the interior.