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Lymm Hall

Ecospheric Research Hub

Grade II* Elizabethan Manor aiming for Zero Carbon

A Low Energy Research Hub for Heritage Retrofit

Photos courtesy of Lymm Photographic Society

Constraint is the birthplace of innovation

Lymm Hall is a unique research hub devising low energy solutions to retrofit historic buildings in an applied context. Working within the constraints of preservation policies, Ecospheric is collaborating with experts in heritage and the built environment to bring this Elizabethan-era manor house into the 21st century ensuring the UK's historic properties will play an important role in meeting targets for a sustainable and zero carbon future.

Research shows listed buildings and those in conservation areas have a significantly lower uptake of energy efficiency measures compared to the remaining building stock*. Between 2006-2013, it's estimated these 2 million listed and historic properties produced 20.1 million more tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. The resulting £21.1 billion in private energy costs and social costs could have been saved by adopting a sympathetic approach to low carbon retrofit (source: SERC).

Ecospheric is taking learnings from our Zetland Passive House project, where we achieved a 95% reduction in space heating demand in a period property, to progress the building industry in sustainably and sensitively renovating listed and historic buildings. Focussed on building health, ventilation, and material breathability, our approach to retrofit prioritises heritage preservation and occupant comfort.


This ambitious, multi-year project will include the following:

  • Historical renovation of the hall using a Passivhaus methology, while minimising embodied carbon

  • Landscape restoration in the style of Edward Kemp, one of the UK's leading Victorian landscape designers

  • PhD research project focussed on the application of lime-based technologies as an environmentally sustainable alternative to current methods of construction

  • Partnership with the UK's leading experts and manufacturers in heritage and sustainability

About Lymm Hall

First established a millenium ago as the home of Lymm's founding family, the de Limmes, this ancient hall is first recorded in the Domesday Book. By the 16th century, the current West wing of the hall was built by the Domville family who called this site their home for more than 500 years. Over the centuries, this stately manor house has been renovated and extended to suit the taste and style of each era. Constructed of handmade brick and Cheshire sandstone, the hall is approached by a grade II listed bridge over a scheduled moat and surrounding grounds featuring important cockfighting-pits and an ice house. The historically significant hall makes this an extremely unique site for a low energy and environmentally sustainable renovation. 

More coming soon
Low Energy & Historic Restoration

The Case for Retrofit

A recent report by Historic England outlines the importance of carefully retrofitting historic homes to reduce carbon emissions in this country, which has one of the oldest housing stocks in Europe. The complexity of retrofitting historic properties means detailed planning and consideration is required. Lymm Hall has withstood many alterations to the building structure over the past 400 years and an intermittent approach to maintenance. The diversity of methods and materials applied to the hall will offer our designers and researchers useful, real-world scenarios to measure the best approaches for retrofit. 

Low Energy Approach

Using a Passivhaus approach, Ecospheric is currently modelling the existing hall in PHPP and using a network of environmental and air quality sensors to monitor changes as we investigate, restore and improve the hall. A multifaceted and holistic approach will consider: the sensitive repair and hygrothermal upgrade of the building fabric; ventilation and pressure neutrality; energy generation; as well as how user behaviour and health considerations affect the design of these aspects. 

Lime Research Hub

Partnering with the University of Liverpool's Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory, Ecospheric is working with a PhD researcher who is assessing the masonry condition and working to propose the best processes and materials for repair. The selection of an appropriate repair method is essential to ensure the durability of the masonry and the hygrothermal performance. In order to specify compatible remedial work petrographic analysis of the historic mortar and the masonry units will be employed and research into the traditional methods of lime mortar production using hot mix methods is currently in process.

The Challenge of Glazing

Glazing is often the biggest hurdle to overcome in achieving Passivhaus standards. Lymm Hall possesses 52 window sets and hundreds of panes of single leaded glazing. The ‘gold’ standard is to encapsulate the original window frame on both sides, inside and out, and fill the void with an inert gas. This is not possible for Lymm Hall, due to the requirement to maintain the outer features of the leaded windows. We are seeking to develop a novel interior solution to achieve the same level of performance of the ‘gold’ standard, and the air tightness criteria for a Passivhaus.

Historic Restoration

In addition to sustainability targets, this project also aims to fully restore as much of the original period features as possible. Lymm Heritage Centre and Lymm Digital Archive are playing a key partnership role in contributing to the restoration and sharing findings with the local community. Heritage consultant Marion Barter is advising on the restoration to ensure that all work is in keeping with the authentic style of the hall and compliant with preservation policies. The present interior of the hall does not have any visible pre-Victorian features on display. However, a 42ft long, coved Elizabethan decorative plaster ceiling hidden for 200 years will be uncovered and once again proudly displayed.

A Blueprint for Heritage Retrofit

Lymm Hall will become a case study helping to define appropriate repair techniques for the deep retrofit of historic properties. This project will offer academics and built environment professionals the invaluable opportunity to analyze a range of methods and materials in a real world setting. Ecospheric aims to share findings from this project with policy makers, heritage professionals, and developers to ensure the millions of historic buildings in the UK can be part of a zero carbon future.

More coming soon
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Kempian Landscape Revival

Edward Kemp was one of the Victorian era's most influential landscape designers. He wrote a seminal text on landscape design called "How to Lay Out a Garden", a must-have guide for the era's most style-savvy landowners. Although he is known for designing many parks and public gardens, the rose garden at Lymm Hall was one of Kemp's earliest private commissions. The grounds of Lymm Hall house a number of ancient scheduled monuments including the dry moat, two cock-fighting pits, and an ice house. The restoration work at Lymm Hall will be led by David Lambert of the Parks Agency and will see the dry moat re-floated and the gardens redesigned to a standard which Edward Kemp would most whole-heartedly approve.

More coming soon
Partners in Research & Innovation

The restoration of Lymm Hall will require expertise in heritage conservation and sustainable building. The following companies and organisations have signed on to deliver this pioneering low energy project.

Partners in Research & Innovation

The restoration of Lymm Hall will require expertise in heritage conservation and sustainable building. The following institutions, organisations, and companies will be contributing to the delivery of this pioneering low energy project.

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Get Involved

If your company or organisation would like to contribute services or products for the research, please get in touch using the form below.

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