Following on from our previous blog, we now bring you the next installment of the ‘Phoenix Flies’ project, as we show you the progression of the building works from April 2018 to June 2018.

April 2018

Three workmen in high viz jackets installing steel grid outside old wall of building with arched window

Creating a ‘green’ roof

April saw work to install a steel grid, ready for a large amount of concrete to be poured over the ground level roof of the basement, to the rear of the Castle. This roof covers one of the oldest parts of the building and formed part of the original house that stood here.

This work was vital to make the external wall of the basement watertight, as the basement was suffering badly with damp, and was to become part of the new visitor centre.

Small, flat concrete area in front of old wall of building with arched window


This was to be no ordinary roof though as it was to use a Bauder roof system. Consisting of of a vapour barrier, tapered insulation and a felt capping sheet, this  would enable a variety of hard wearing plants to be planted on it, to be watered by an irrigation system.

Small, flat concrete area in front of old wall of building with arched window

May 2018

Brick well surrounded by newly laid concrete encased by low rectangular brick wall

Well, well, well…

During the initial stages of the work, when the flagstones were lifted, this well was discovered. Archeologists believe it was built in the 19th century for Highcliffe Castle, but it could also have been in use at Penleaze Villa, the house which originally stood on this spot. The Castle wasn’t connected to mains water until 1900. The discovery of the well threw a spanner in the works as this area was designed to be ramped access towards the Victorian kitchen viewing area. To allow visitors to view the discovery, the area was prepared for a glass cover to be installed.

Workman in high viz vest brushing loose plaster from old brick wall in historic building

Essential Tasks

Many smaller but essential tasks were also completed this month. Several new doors were installed along the first floor corridor, as was the underfloor heating manifold. Members of the Greendale team were busy tidying the remaining plaster in the corridor, removing any that was loose or damaged, and generally making good the remaining plasterwork and brickwork.

Workman in high viz vest brushing loose plaster from old brick wall in historic building
Shiny silver insulation panels laid over underfloor heating pipework

The end of May saw some finishing touches being applied to the flooring at the end of the first floor wing. Insulation panels were laid atop the new flooring level, which as the picture shows had channels running along them, ready for  the underfloor heating pipes to be laid . Some of the original floor beams which survived the fires were strengthened and incorporated into the new flooring. It was a main point of focus during the restorations to retain as much of the original building as possible and incorporate it into the new.

June 2018

Small plants in soil on small area of flat roof in front of old stone wall of building

Planting the flat roof

Work during June progressed quickly.

Having been repaired and upgraded, the flat roof between the Castle and the tearooms was ready to be planted up. Once established, these plants would provide an efective way of absorbing surface water, thus preventing further issues with standing water on the roof.

Area of newly completed brick wall

Finishing Touches

Further work to the external wall at the rear of the Castle was completed in June. This new access space would form the emergency exit steps up to ground level. Inside, plasterboards were installed in the upper mezzanine corridor, ready to be plastered before light fittings could be added. Tiles were put up in the two new toilets on this level – the next step would be for the new vinyl flooring to be laid.

Area of newly completed brick wall

Going into the height of  summer 2018 the pace of change really moved up a gear. So in the next installment of our blog we will bring you many more pictures and updates from this most exciting time in the life of the Castle.

If you would like to read more about the Castle in the meantime, why not visit our ‘History’ and ‘Discover the Castle’ pages?