Warwick’s 18th century ballroom and court house will be open to more people
THE 18th century ballroom in The Court House in Warwick will be part of an £800,000 package of improvements designed to make the Grade I listed building more accessible to visitors.
Last week town clerk Derek Maudlin was showing the architectural and conservation team who will be responsible for the 30-week contract around the building on Jury Street.
The new work - partly funded by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund - will also include his council office, the Tourist Information Centre, a kitchen and the Warwickshire Yeomanry Museum in the basement.
At the moment elderly people or those with mobility problems have difficulty reaching the ballroom and can only visit the museum via steep steps.
An old toilet block in Pageant Gardens, outside the building, has already been demolished and replaced.
But by the middle of next month Mr Maudlin is hoping the real work will begin on the main alterations to the building which dates back to 1725 and, despite its name, has not been in use as a court house for many years.
Despite this, some £30,000 of the money will be spent on renovating a coat of arms and a statue of Justice which stands in an alcove at front of the building and turns out to be modelled from lead, rather than stone as originally thought.
After Warwick Castle, the Tourist Information Centre (TIC) at the Court House is the second port of call for thousands of tourists to the town - although numbers have significantly dropped off during this particularly wet summer.
Architect Keith Hamilton of the Loughborough-based firm B3, has redesigned the entrance to the TIC away from the main street and substantially extended its visitor facilities.
Iain Milne, of the Kettering company Bennie Historic Conservation, will start by installing a lift to the museum and the ballroom, which still has its original fireplaces.
Mr Milne said: “We will also install a collapsible, multi-purpose stage, refurbish the floor, which is very noisy at the moment, and install extra lighting to add to the existing chandeliers.”
Mr Maudlin added: “The work should be completed by next May and will make the museum accessible and our ballroom more suitable for conferences and small weddings.”
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Friday 24 May 2013
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