The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) is pleased to announce that it has awarded a Project Viability Grant to Lissan House Trust to advance its plans to restore the Turf Shed into a flexible space to be used by a range of local groups, driving greater activity to the historic site. This is one of nine awards made at the latest grants meeting, where projects ranging geographically from Kingsbarns to Abergavenny were awarded £66,899 in funding.
Thomas Staple, the 1st Baronet of Lissan and Faughanvale, built Lissan House around 1620, during the Plantation of Ulster. In 1660, Thomas’ youngest son, Robert, constructed much of the house which stands today, though it has been adapted and embellished by subsequent generations.
It, and the surrounding 300-acre estate, is now owned and managed by Lissan House Trust. Following a popular public campaign and inclusion in the BBC Restoration series, the house was restored and opened its doors to the public in 2012 as a visitor and community centre. However, it is not suitable for a wide range of activities.
The Grade B listed Turf Shed is part of a group of outbuildings which date back to the 17th century. It has arcaded openings along its two long sides, a timber mezzanine floor and a Bangor blue slate roof. The south end of the building is in ruinous condition, but the volunteer-led Trust has been working hard to secure the historic fabric that remains.
The Trust aims to restore the shed and transform it into an open plan, sheltered space for walkers, school groups and other visitors coming to Lissan House and estate. It plans to rent the space to groups for events like barbecues and foraged feasts, while the first-floor mezzanine would be used for overnight camping by youth groups, including the Girl Guides and Boys Brigade. The wider aspiration is that this flexible space will encourage more people to visit Lissan House, animating the whole estate. These activities will also help to generate additional income for the Trust, contributing to its sustainability in the long term and furthering its charitable aims and objectives.
The focused Project Viability Grant from the AHF will enable the Trust to commission a conservation-led condition survey and a viability study to help kickstart its ambitious plans.