Probus has a Taste of The Vyne

The history of this local Tudor Palace, situated south of Bramley, and its much publicised roof project were the subject of a talk given by Chris Burrows to the Probus Club of Basingstoke, the social organisation for retired professional and business managers.

Oakley resident Chris, is a member of the Basingstoke Archaeology Society and he has been a volunteer with the National Trust since 1991. He has been involved in previous surveys at The Vyne and once found a flint knife. Earlier surveys had been conducted by the eminent archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler.

Built originally in 1268 the building was added to over the years. Sir William Sandys, despite being a staunch Catholic, managed to hold on to his position as Lord Chamberlain to King Henry V111, after the creation of the Protestant Church of England following the refusal of the Pope to the King’s  divorce of Katherine of Aragon.

Mansion in Tudor times wiv tower 2.03.2018
View of The Vyne at the time of the visit of King Henry V111 in 1535

He had developed the property into a Tudor palace, and had the honour and great cost of being a recipient of the King Henry V111 and Queen Anne Boleyn’s “progress” in 1535. Many portraits of the Tudor period can be seen today in the Oak Gallery.

Also to be seen today in the Stone Gallery is a terracotta plaque of the Roman Emperor Probus who introduced wine making into England. It is thought that it is possible that this plaque was obtained in the 16th century and may have contributed to naming this residence, The Vyne.

Roman Emperor Probus

Baron Sandys endowed the Holy Ghost chapel in Basingstoke and is buried there. The painted glass windows from the chapel were installed at The Vyne, some of which underwent restoration in 2016.

Chaloner Chute, a lawyer and politician, bought the Tudor palace in 1653 and demolished it in 1665, rebuilding in the Palladium style. In 1767 John Chute began further modernisation and installed the grand staircase that can be seen today. The Chute family continued to own The Vyne, with most male descendents named Chaloner, and was lived in until 1939 when it was taken over by Tomore prep school after it was evacuated from Deal in Kent. It was bequeathed, by Sir Charles Chute, to the National Trust in 1956.

With a building this old there was always plenty of remedial work needed to keep the fabric secure but over the years of patching up the extensive roof it was decided that the complete removal and replacement with modern standard of insulation was the best course of action.

The roof in 2014 before restoration

The work started in 2014 and is just coming to an end. It has involved the erection of a cover over the whole building including a lift for materials and passengers. Some chimneys were taken down so that a walkway could be constructed around the complex for the use of just under 150,000 visitors. The last visitors were on 28 February 2018 when the walkway was removed so that the original chimneys could be rebuilt.

The roof during restoration before putting on the tiles

Pre Tudor roofing was discovered, including the use of part of a staircase which proved that recycling was in vogue hundreds of years ago. The lead from the gullies has been reformed and reused and new parapets and finials been carved. Lime mortar has been used throughout the restoration as it will have a longer life than modern day cement. Special provision has been made for the bats so that they can continue to occupy parts of the roof.

70,000 handmade tiles have been used of which nearly 13,000 were bought by visitors in the “Tagatile” scheme allowing personal messages to be written and raising £64,000 toward the cost of this project of £5,400,000.

It will take three months to remove the roof covering and 41 miles of scaffolding to reveal the highly skilled workmanship to the rest of the world. However they will never see the roof from this angle again!