Rare boathouse was in danger of collapse

Belton House's 19th century boathouse.
Belton House's 19th century boathouse.

Belton House’s rare 19th century boathouse is undergoing restoration works after ‘deteriorating dramatically’ this summer and being left in a ‘critical’ state.

A National Trust spokesman said the building is ‘in danger of imminent collapse’ after hot weather and lack of rain caused its foundations to move. The trust has not yet raised all the funds needed to save the building, but decided to bring forward the start of restoration works, which began on Thursday last week.

Belton’s boathouse is one of only two surviving examples in the UK constructed with rustic stickwork. The course of the River Witham was altered significantly in the early 1830s by the first Earl Brownlow to create a designed landscape garden in the wilderness style. It’s believed the river and the boathouse acted as the gateway to the now lost Wilderness garden.

Throughout the 19th century, the Brownlow family enjoyed the wilderness from the water. As part of the project, specialist contractors will remove silt deposits, restore a lost river channel and rebuild lost revetments for the National Trust to reintroduce punting on the River Witham in 2019.

National Trust craftsmen are now restoring the boathouse to its 19th century splendour using traditional building skills. Visitors to Belton will be able to see conservation work in action throughout September as the foundations are strengthened, and the silt that surrounds it is removed.

Fundraising will continue during the building’s restoration. Supporters can make their mark on history by sponsoring one of the 1,250 hand-cut fish scale roof slates - with sponsors able to inscribe their slate with a special message.

l For details visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/appeal/saving-beltons-boathouse