We were delighted to recently visit one of the projects completed by our Special Projects Team earlier this year, which managed to safely reopen to the public, whilst government guidelines allowed, after being closed for 7 years!
GSS have been working on various phases of the repairs and restoration to the Grade II Listed Mrs Smith’s Cottage since 2016, for North Kesteven District Council. This unique project involved bringing the museum, part of which was constructed in the 1830s, back into public use whilst maintaining the look and feel of this well-preserved time capsule.
Thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and NKDC, GSS have successfully delivered the necessary refurbishment, including new services throughout, redecoration, and structural repairs to the building, in addition to creating a new external exhibition space with disabled access, inside an adjacent property recently purchased by the Council.
Due to the restrictive nature of the site, and the requirement to maintain as much of the original character of the building as possible, this project presented a number of challenges for our Special Projects Team to overcome. With the first-floor rooms only accessible via ladder, and the walls having a thickness of only half a brick, the team had to ensure that works were carried out carefully and considerately. Working closely with the client, Lincoln Conservation from the University of Lincoln and the Exhibition Designer Grevatte & Co, our team were able to find innovative and appropriate solutions, in order to bring this fascinating interpretation of Navenby’s history back into public use.
Until the recent lockdown, visitors were able to return to this popular historic attraction in Lincolnshire, to enjoy exploring the cottage and garden, giving them a look into how Mrs Smith lived her life. Born in Navenby in 1892, Mrs Smith lived much of her life in the cottage, keeping a detailed diary of any changes to her life over the decades. Throughout this time the cottage remained almost entirely unchanged, except for minor alterations to decorations and wallpaper. After her death in 1995, villagers were concerned about what would happen to the cottage, which was a much-loved time capsule to Mrs Smith’s life of almost 100 years in the same house. Thanks to the support of the village, it was decided that North Kesteven District Council would open the cottage as a museum in 1999.
Speaking about the completion of works to Mrs Smith’s Cottage, Richard Wright, Leader of North Kesteven District Council, said “The restoration project been a real journey over the past four years, with some ups and downs along the way, but it’s a testament to the hard work of the Project team, staff and volunteers that we are now able to open the doors once again. Visitors are in for a pleasant surprise when they come to see the cottage, even if they have been before. The team have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to provide a new vision that will give our guests the type of insights into Lincolnshire’s heritage that they won’t get anywhere else.”
To learn more about the history of Mrs Smith’s Cottage, or pre-book your visit for once government guidelines allow, follow the link to their website: mrssmithscottage.com