Preserving Wadham College

Date Published: 25.04.2023

Engraving of Wadham College by David Loggan (1634-1692)

North Range Roof Restoration Project

  • Why are we carrying out this work?

We are committed to preserving Wadham’s beautiful Grade I-listed, early 17th century, buildings for future generations of students, academics and visitors to enjoy. The College buildings are of national historic importance and, as custodians of them, we are responsible for caring for and sensitively restoring them.

  • Which areas of College are affected?

We plan to progress our ongoing programme of restoration work in the historic Front Quad by carefully re-roofing the spaces above staircases 1, 2, and 3. We are relieved that the gutters and rainwater pipes are generally in good condition and require little maintenance work. Due to the significant cost of this re-roofing project, around £1.2 million, we do not have the funding to complete the restoration works inside staircases 2 and 3. Our hope is to continue this next phase as soon as funds are available. Earlier stages of our phased programme of restoring and refurbishing the Front Quad have included re-roofing the Chapel and Hall in 2006, interior refurbishment and re-roofing staircases 4, 5, 6 and 7 in 2009, and interior refurbishment in staircase 1 in 2015.

  • When will the work happen?

This phase of our long-term plan to improve and maintain the College requires rapid action. Many of the old roof slates over staircases 1, 2, and 3 have slipped over time, exposing some of the historic wooden rafters. We need to start the essential repair work as soon as possible to ensure we preserve the roof structures in this 400-year-old building. We hope to be able to begin the process towards the end of 2023 and to have scaffolding in place by Christmas. We estimate that the restoration work will take 12 – 14 months. However, the final schedule is dependent on some external considerations, including confirmation of listed-building consent and sourcing of appropriate materials. Every effort will be made to minimise noise and disruption to College life throughout the process.

  • How will the work be carried out?

We are committed to conservation and sustainability in all areas of College life. These considerations are key to our restoration work. We will reuse as many of the old slate tiles as possible. Where the tiles cannot be reused because they have severely deteriorated, we will source replacement tiles in an environmentally conscious manner. For example, our specialist project team is exploring the possibility of sourcing good quality tiles that have been previously used on other buildings in the local area. As part of the project, we will also be carefully upgrading the insulation material in the roof, ensuring that it is compatible for this heritage building, to improve thermal performance and reduce energy consumption.

There will be an external scaffold around staircases 1, 2 and 3 for the contractor to access the roof. A temporary scaffold will also be installed over the whole roof to protect the building when the tiles are being removed. It is anticipated that the rooms on the ground, first and second floors of staircases 1, 2 and 3 can be occupied during the work. We are planning alternative rooms for occupants in rooms on the top floor once we have confirmation of the start date. We will contact those affected by the restoration works as soon as more information is available.

  • Who will we work with?

We will work closely with our professional team, including our Chartered Architect specialising in the conservation of historic buildings, and tilers with traditional heritage skills, to ensure that the work is carried out in accordance with best conservation practices. We will consult with all those involved in the project when planning the schedule to ensure that we make the most effective use of vacation time and reduce disturbance to College members in term time.

  • Who do I contact if I have any questions?

Please feel free to contact us for further information.

Project leads: Frances Lloyd, Domestic Bursar, and Chris Cox, Estates Manager.


We would like to thank you for your support as we embark on this important conservation project.