The Archer Pavilion at Wrest Park in Bedfordshire is an 18th Century Grade I listed garden building now owned by English Heritage. Built between 1709-11 to the designs of Thomas Archer, it is a rare and major example of an early garden building in the Baroque manner. Its domed ceiling is lined with magnificent trompe l’œil paintings by Louis Hauduroy and these were under threat from water damage.
Over the years, the large amount of lead on the roof has been slipping down the outside of the dome, causing gaps to appear and allowing water inside the roof void. This was causing the lath and plaster ceiling upon which the paintings were on the underside to become damaged. Restoration and repair works amounting to £480,000 were secured by English Heritage and FPCR were commissioned in 2016 to undertake bat surveys works of the building as the lead roof was to be replaced.
From our survey work involving dusk and dawn surveys, night vision camera footage and internal building inspections, we discovered a small brown long-eared maternity roost in the large domed void. The access points and use of the building by the bats were very complex with the bats emerging from the dome internally through a trapdoor in the ceiling, flying through the visitor space in the centre and using the spiral staircases and chimneys to emerge from the basement level windows! Timing of the project work was critical as the scaffolding had to be down before a wedding took place in the spring of 2018. We worked with English Heritage and Natural England to obtain a European Protected Species licence to derogate from the current legislation protecting bats and their roosts to allow the vital works to take place whilst still allowing the bats access.
With access points re-instated and the works complete, we will be undertaking monitoring works in the coming years to assess how successful the retention of the roost has been.