As one of the last remaining structures of its kind, The Tower of London with its Grade I Listed Building status and blood-thirsty history remains one of the most famous buildings in London, attracting over two million visitors every year. G&T is lucky enough to be involved with the restoration for part of this Ancient Monument. Read on to find out more about this fascinating project and how G&T is involved…
G&T’s construction management team was appointed by Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) to oversee the restoration and conservation of both Queen’s House and the Bell Tower. The project included the cleaning, repair and replacement of existing ancient stone and brickwork, structural repairs to the ancient timber roof and repair and decoration of existing windows. One of these is the oldest sash window recorded in Europe with 45 historic layers of paint uncovered on it!
The Queen’s House was built by King Henry VIII for his wife of the time, Anne Boleyn, back in the 16th Century. Facing Tower Green, the famous location of many beheadings, this L-shape building was also the location of Guy Fawkes’ trial following the 1605 Gunpowder Plot. To this day it remains the home of the Constable of the Tower who has stayed in residence keeping an eye on things throughout the restoration project. The building itself is of “exceptional significance” as the last structure of its kind still in London. Other similar buildings were burnt to the ground in the 1666 Great Fire of London.
The Bell Tower originally formed part of the outer defences of the medieval castle and dates back to the 12th Century, making it one of the oldest parts of the Tower of London. Historically VIP prisoners were kept there with the most famous of these being Thomas Moore and King Henry VIII’s daughter, Princess Elizabeth (the future Elizabeth I) who was imprisoned by her own sister Queen Mary I. Its name comes from the small wooden turret found on top which contains the ‘curfew bell’. This was used to inform the prisoners it was time to return to their quarters. Today it is sounded every day at 5.45pm, to warn visitors the Tower is about to close.
Understandably a project like this has generated a lot of interest from conservationists, academics and historians, not to mention Historic England who regularly visited the site. With over two million people visiting the Tower every year, the project had strict deadlines to make sure it didn’t overrun or interfere with daily Tower life. It was particularly important not to disrupt the ceremonial duties still carried out today by the Tower Yeomen.
The project site works at the Tower of London were managed by G&T’s Darren Smyth, one of the team’s senior construction managers.
“I have been incredibly fortunate and proud to have been the construction manager on projects with such significance. It gives me a tremendous sense of pride to know that my efforts will help preserve these important buildings and the histories wrapped up within their walls for future generations.”
G&T has a long working relationship with Historic Royal Palaces (HRP). In particular the construction management team has worked on a number of high profile and fascinating projects across various palaces on their behalf. These projects include Kew Palace which was restored to its former 19th Century glory, reflecting the life of King George III and Kensington Palace, where G&T provided both project and cost management services for its redevelopment, reconnecting it back to its parkland setting. HRP is an independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle.
G&T Partner, Kayne Howes plays a lead role within our Construction Management team with his core skills including the preparation of feasibility studies, design team management, contract and procurement management and advice. He has been involved with projects across a variety of sectors including high quality private residential, historic restoration, conservation and commercial new build and fit-out.
Keep up to date with developments on this project by following us on Twitter @gt_llp!