Case study….Hothorpe Hall, Leicester

Hothorpe Hall is a beautiful stately home in Lutterworth, Leicestershire being run as a luxury hotel and conference centre. A new rustic wedding function suite is currently under construction in the grounds, with EDS having been commissioned to install the drainage.

A very large sewage treatment plant together with a crude pump station and drainage was required, to cater for the expected guest population of 200 at a time.

All was ordered and ready to go, when at the last minute we were told that the drainage could not be installed as planned. An arborologist had intervened putting a stop to the works, as the excavations would be too close to some very old trees and shrubs. Had the drainage been installed with heavy digging machinery as planned, this could have meant that there was a risk that their roots and water supply would be jeopardised. The drainage, therefore had to be dug out by hand.

The installation of the sewage treatment plant itself also hit upon a snag – albeit a very interesting one! Excavation of the huge pit required to accommodate the treatment plant was started in earnest, and all was going well until one of the team noticed some large stones neatly in a row in the crater, resembling a row of giant’s teeth. As this area was the Viking centre of the ancient kingdom of Mercia, it contains many ancient burial chambers from the period – an archaeologist was therefore called in to give an opinion. After painstakingly brushing, photographing and logging the stones, it was decided that these would most probably have formed part of an ancient boundary wall. That having been said, and the stones recorded for posterity, excavations recommenced and the 9th Century stones were once again covered over, consigned back to the depths to be re-discovered in maybe the 22nd Century?

Hothorpe Hall itself makes a piece of modern-day history, being as it was the birth place of Lt Col Simon Elwes, a renowned British war artist and portrait painter of the rich and famous. Many kings, queens, presidents and statesmen had their portraits painted by this gentleman, together with one Countess of Carnarvon. Anyone who has read the book of Downton Abbey will be familiar with this portrait of the Countess, as it is this that graces the front cover of the book.