Limes in action on castles, churches & much more

Case Studies

Singleton Birch building limes are being specified for works on castles, churches, cottages, down to the humble garden wall! Below are examples of our limes in action...

Abbeywood Community School, Fitton, Bristol Contractor: BAM Construction

Location: Fitton, Bristol
Lime Material: NHL5Z
Lime Material Supplier: Remix Dry Mortars Ltd
Contractor: BAM Construction
Architect: AlecFrenchArchitects & NVB Architects
Client: South Gloucestershire Council

In September 2008 work started on a new school and 6th form college in Fitton, Bristol to replace the existing Fitton High School.

The brief for the build included:

“The building and its grounds are to provide a clear statement of “sustainability”. This is to be achieved through passive (low-tech) integrated design, incorporating natural ventilation, daylight, and solar warming. The external appearance is to reflect this approach by the use of natural materials such as timber, brick and render”.

To help fulfil this brief a lime based mortar was specified from Remix Dry Mortars Ltd, the Remix mortar was supplied as a dry premix being a blend of Singleton Birch Natural Hydraulic Lime and suitable sand. The build was completed on schedule in May 2010. Due to the skill and experience of the main contractors BAM and their brickwork contractors Portcliffe Building Services work continued though the recent severe winter without problem. The school is due to open in September at the start of the school year.

Training Centre at Ty-Mawr Contractor: John Watkins, Hay-On-Wye

Location: Brecon Beacons National Park
Lime Material: Singleton Birch NHL 3.5
Lime Material Supplier: Calch Ty-Mawr
Architect: Tim Ratcliffe, Oswestry
Client: Nigel & Joyce Gervis, Ty-Mawr

The Newly restored training centre is based in a beautiful complex of Grade 2* listed buildings, formerly a farmstead in the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park in Mid Wales. The site is still the family home of the founders of Ty-Mawr, Nigel and Joyce Gervis, and is an on-going restoration project.

The training centre was the original granary which has been sympathetically converted. The front elevation had to be taken down and was completely rebuilt using NHL3.5 lime mortat. The exterior has had several coats of lime wash. Internal walls have been rendered using a hemp/lime render which was then finished with a Glaster plaster finish coat.

Last year, over 600 architects, specifiers, builders, plasterers, painters, interior designers, homeowners, planners and conservation officers attended courses or RIBA-accredited CPD seminars at Ty-Mawr, the newly completed training centre provides an ideal backdrop for courses and open days.

St Margaret's Church Contractor: Church Lime

Location: Somerby, Lincolnshire,
Lime Material: Singleton Birch NHL 2, NHL 3.5 and Lime Putty
Lime Material Supplier: Church Lime
Contractor: Church Lime
Architect: Gordon Smith of Gordon Smith Conservation
Client: Diocese of Lincoln and the Parochial Parish Council of Somerby

The church was neglected and very run down. The parishioners had invested a great deal of time and effort in clearing the church and grounds of ivy and weeds. The fabric of the church was found to need repairs to the ironstone and chalk masonry. The church had originally been larger than its present size, the two transepts had been removed sometime after the middle ages and the tower had unusually been moved from the east to the west elevation.

Much of the original ironstone was approximately 900 years old and had softened with time. The chalk which had been quarried locally for repairs completed in medieval times had begun to fail completely. Harsh cement mortar which dated from repairs done in the 50s and then again in the 80s was accelerating the degradation.

It was important that a lime was used which would match the properties of the building and halt any further damage. The cement mortar was raked out by hand, the badly eroded stone was replaced, like for like, then repointed. The east wall was rebuilt internally and the now filled in east window replastered and whitewashed with material based on Singleton Birch quicklime. Lime putty mortar was used along with NHL 2 for the walls and NHL 3.5 for the parapets and copings. The aggregate was a Lincoln sand which reflects the nature of the building rather than a pre-mix.

Dalton Castle Contractor: D H Willis & Sons

Location: Dalton, Cumbria
Lime Material: Singleton Birch NHL 2
Lime Material Supplier: P & S Coverdale
Contractor: D H Willis & Sons
Client: National Trust, NW Region


Dalton Castle was built between 1314 and 1360AD as a defensive structure to protect the townsfolk of Dalton and the approaches to Furness Abbey from Scottish border raiders. These structures are called pele towers.

The pele tower is a small fortified keep, built along the English and Scottish Borders, intended as watch towers where signal fires could be lit by moss-troopers to warn of approaching danger. An Act of Parliament in 1455 required each Peel Tower to have an iron basket on its summit and a smoke or fire signal, for day or night use, ready to hand.

Apart from their primary purpose as a warning system, these towers were also the homes of the Lairdsand landlordsof the area, who dwelt in them with their families and retainers, while their followers lived in simple buildings and huts outside the walls. The towers also provided a refuge so that, when cross-border raiding parties arrived, the whole population of a village could take to the tower and wait for the marauders to depart.

Prior to the building’s ownership by The National Trust acquired in 1965, it last served as a courthouse and a prison.

The tower is built with a rectangular base of 44ft*29ft, rises approximately 40ft above ground, and has walls up to 6ft thick.


The works to the tower primarily consisted of removal of cement pointing and repointing in lime mortar. The National Trust chose an NHL2 to provide certain durability to the moderately exposed conditions but provide maximum breathability. Samples of mortar analysed by the Scottish Lime Centre showed a mixture of non-hydraulic to eminently hydraulic, but the Trust felt a NHL2 was a suitable compromise to give adequate strength with the best possible breathability.

As the tower is a schedule monument prior approval of a weathered sample was required. Trial panels done using a Singleton Birch NHL2 were shown to give the right colour and physical properties. Work started in March and was completed in early August using Singleton Birch NHL2 throughout. All the cement pointing was removed, any large voids were filled with matching stone bedded on the lime mortar and the entire tower repointed.

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