Leith Hall - Huntly, Aberdeenshire

Leith Hall is a Category A Listed building located Huntly in Aberdeenshire. The first tower of Leith Hall was built by James Leith in 1650; it is now an 18th century neo-classical country mansion with elegant interiors including beautiful plaster ornamentation. The Oval room ceiling is renowned for its detailed cast plaster embellishments ordered in a symmetrical manner; the Attic comprises a simple lath and lime plastered room with a coobm ceiling.

Scope of Work

Attic room: application of scratch coat in lime plaster.

Pictured: Attic room: application of scratch coat in lime plaster.

LTM were contracted by the National Trust for Scotland to conduct repairs to internal lime plasterwork following damage from water ingress caused by leaking services. Works included: localised repairs to the Oval room ceiling and complete replastering of the Attic room.

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Challenges and Considerations

Attic room: reinstating riven lath.

Pictured: Attic room: reinstating riven lath.

The repairs to the Oval room ceiling required a systematic approach to record and carefully remove damaged and loose cast sections. The embellishments were recorded both photographically and by the manufacture of templates before careful removal. This allowed the stabilisation of the ceiling substrate and the ex situ conservation of the decorative cast sections. LTM plasters also removed modern polymer based paint coatings with a conservator’s directional steamer and small dentistry tools. The decorative scheme was reinstated in limewash to consolidate the repair and provide a traditional finish: the colour of the limewash was guided by thin section analysis of original paint samples.

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Solutions to Problems

Attic room: finished lime plaster on lath.

Pictured: Attic room: finished lime plaster on lath.

The Oval ceiling and Attic room were both badly damaged due to water movement through the lath and plaster. The Attic room required complete relathing and replastering of the walls and coobm ceiling. The Oval ceiling showed signs of deflection due to water penetration: cracks and patches were prepared by undercutting the edge to form a dovetail key and traditional plasterwork was carried out using materials which matched the existing composition. After consolidating the existing plasterwork it was decided to reinforce the ceiling by mechanically fixing the plaster to the timber backing. Replacement moulds were manufactured by a specialist plaster and new plaster cast pieces were produced to replicate existing cast sections. The casts were then fixed as per existing location with an adhesive coat of wet plaster, consisting lime putty gauged with gypsum. Finally, the repair and reinstatement of the decorative scheme could commence; all repair work was undertaken using traditional methods and materials.

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Oval ceiling: template manufacture as part of the documentation and recording process.


Leith Hall - Huntly, Aberdeenshire

Area of Expertise

Historic Estates

Craft Skills & Solutions

  • Lime Plaster Conservation
  • Lime Plastering

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Leith Hall - Huntly, Aberdeenshire

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