Lichfield Shopping Precinct

This project is probably the most comprehensive and complex with which Martin and sons have ever been involved. The building currently houses a cancer research charity office in Lichfield, Staffs, and forms one end of the historic Tudor shopping precinct there.

The half timbers of the building had completely deteriorated, causing a danger to the public beneath, and a possibility of long term structural compromise to the building itself…

Consequently, English Heritage, the building owner, commissioned Martin and a team of skilled craftsmen to restore and conserve the building to its former glory.

Many people have no idea of the incredibly exacting standards required by English Heritage of their appointed conservationists. This project would prove to be one of the most intense and challenging of Martin’s career, along with his colleagues at the time.

morticerFirst of all, the original rotten timbers were painstakingly measured, their positions photographed and recorded, then removed for use as templates in the new construction.

Martin’s team constructed new beams from imported timber, of a specialist type only available in France, by using techniques off-site in the workshop, together with millimetre-accurate careful use of a chainsaw morticer, shown here above.

The joints used in the construction of timber facings were constructed using Martin’s medieval carpentry skills. Here you can see an illustration of a ‘Stop Splayed and Tabled Scarf with Sallied and Undersquinted Butts’.  In short, a medieval technique for ensuring that timber could not move laterally nor longitudinally once the joint was closed together. Such was the iron-like hardness of the wood, and the incredible accuracy required, that the manual hammer and chisel work for the construction of one joint took Martin several days!

medieval carpentry Staffordshire

At last, after the new timbers were constructed, they were stained using appropriate materials, and the front of the building sympathetically re-built and re-rendered.


The right hand side of the building, which Martin renovated, as it stands today, three years on from the renovation, still looks very neat! You can see the difference between the sections that were repaired and the originals on the far side from the camera.