Hartlebury Castle

The library was built in 1782 by Richard Hurd, who was Bishop of Worcester for 27 years. Shropshire architect James Smith built the library over the 17th century Long Gallery in the Castle below. The plaster ceiling is by James Bromfield, of Shrewsbury.

Beautifully detailed cornice was separating from the lath due to deflection in the beam on which it applied.  Much of the plasterwork to the ceilings was cracked and moving, due mainly to the inferior quality of the ceiling joists.  Close examination of the timbers above the library revealed that many of them were re-used timbers even when the library was built, and had cracked and sagged over the years.  

In the recent past (probably the early 1970's, water damage required ceiling repairs, which were carried out using modern plasterboard and plaster finish. Here, holes have been drilled through the ceiling to insert the borescope - this allows us to examine the condition of the beams holding the ceiling, and check whether the lath has separated from them. In this case, both beams and lath appear to be sound, and the deflection seen in the ceiling is probably due to the age of the beams, the weight of the ceiling, and weight of the flat lead roof above..

The project has now been completed. When the broken section of plaster was removed, it revealed sloppy workmanship dating to 1782 when the plasterwork was applied. The plaster had no horsehair in it, making it brittle and easily broken. The first stage of repair was to remove the damaged section and examine the lath it was formerly attached to:

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