Georgian Front Door Restoration – Ladygrove House

This week we restored the entrance door to Ladygrove House in Derbyshire and personalised the fan light with something a little unique.

Restoration of Victorian front doors
Front door restoration at Ladycroft House, Derbyshire.

The Commission

“My front door is in a sorry state. The house is Georgian, I would like some advice as to whether the door is worth repairing or whether I should be thinking of a replacement.”

Dale & Andy (current owners) contacted me and sent me some photographs of a very tired door desprately in need of some TLC. The white door paint was flaking off, cracked and the door had been knocked a fair few times with lots of filler in obvious places. The old lock wasn’t working and there was no key! To add insult to years of injury the brassware hadn’t been touched for decades and very tarnished so they were hoping that something could be done to save it all.

After planing the door to fit properly and fitting a Stormguard thresher where the rain was getting in I fit a temporary door, two locks and took the Georgian door away to The Grand Victorian Workshop.

First, a little history…

When you take on a job like this it helps to know a bit about the building that the door belongs to. Dale found as much about the house that resources aforded her and came up with a great idea for the glass design to honour it.

The Dakeyne Family and Ladygrove House

Ladygrove House is known to have had 2 earlier names, Green House, presumably because it overlooked the village green and Glen View.

Thomas Dekeyne Ladygrove House
The stone above the door at Ladygrove House reading Thomas Dakeyne 1796.

The carved date stone above the front door reads “1796 THOMAS DAKEYNE”. The Dakeyne family were land owners in the Darley Dale area and built fine houses there for their own residence, as well as other properties in the neighbourhood including the Plough Inn in Two Dales.  

Georgian door knob before restoration
Brass door knob in need of some Brasso and a wee bit of elbow grease.

The main residence of the patriarch of the family, Thomas’s father Daniel Dakeyne was Holt House, situated close by Ladygrove House.  Amazingly it was also a bank and Daniel even printed his own money.  Daniel decided to purchase a flax mill a short way up the valley from Holt House and formed Daniel Dakeyne & Co, Cotton Spinners with three of his six living sons.  However, the good times were not to last,Daniel and his sons Daniel jnr, Thomas and Joseph were declared bankrupt in 1801.

The story is that as their properties were sold off the Dakeyne families came to live at Green House, but no confirmation has been found for this. However, it can be confirmed that Daniel snr died penniless at Green House in 1819.

Door knob before restoration
Spot the escutcheon over the keyhole.

In a letter to the Editor of one newspaper it was claimed that, just like Ross Poldark, their debts were all bought by one man and called for payment on the same day, the name of this dastardly George Warleggan-esque character was alleged to be none other than Mr Arkwright!

Thomas Dakeyne of the date stone, established his wife Sarah and their children in Gradbach, Staffordshire, where he owned a flax mill, so although he would appear to have built the house, he doesn’t seem to have lived in it for long.  Instead it became the main residence for his brothers Edward, and James, neither of whom married.

Door panels before restoration
The panels in the door needed a little restoration work.

Following the bankruptcy the two brothers went on to further invest in the Flax Mill at Toadhole (Two Dales) now on Ladygrove Road.  Edward and James, like their father, were admired for their mechanical abilities and went on to design a rotary steam engine and hold many patents.  You can find out more about the family and the engine on this website http://www.dakeynediscengine.comwritten by Phil Wigful.

Front door before restoration
Original leaded glass in Dale’s door.

By 1911 Green House had been renamed Glen View.  It continued to be owned by decedents of Daniel Dakeyne until the 1920’s when the estate was sold.  It was a later owner, Edward Harold Longson, a county court judge, who renamed it Ladygrove House in 1939.

Georgian inspired glass design

After finding images of reclaimed Georgian windows with grided leadwork, we decided to keep the original leadwork pattern, but to give it a bit more interest we added a border based on a stained-glass window at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.

Dakeyne family crest
The Dakeyne Family crest.

Lots of Pintrest and Googling for inspiration went on!  The inspiration for the lead work on the fanlight came from the coat of arms granted to the family of Dakeyne of Stubbing Edge from which Daniel Dakeyne was descended.  Chris’s stomach must have dropped through the floor when we suggested he reproduce this!  But he’s done an amazing job.

Church leaded light
Local church stained glass for inspiration for the fan light.

The colour of the door, colour pattern, combinations and design of the glass, were discussed and agreed with Chris, early one Saturday morning.  The colour of the door was selected to co-ordinate with the Victorian encaustic tiles in the hallway.

Georgian front door before restoration
The entrance door to Ladycroft House before restoration.

We felt it was so important to try to keep the original door.  We talked to a few joiners but they all sucked their teeth suggesting it be skipped and to buy a new one.  However, we ignored them and hung on until we found a special craftsman, someone who would see the value in it that we did and be able to restore Ladygrove House’s entrance to its former splendor.  Thank you so much Chris for all your hard work and attention to detail. We love our re-born front door, and to say we are happy with it is an understatement.

Old Georgian leaded glass
Old Georgian leaded glass

The Restoration

We stripped the door and dug out all the filler. Most people use the best the can find in the big orange DIY store on a Bank Holiday weekend but we’ve tested every filler we’ve been able to get our hands on over the last twenty years or so. This stuff works and doesn’t melt when a bit of moisure gets to it.

Stripping the paint

Georgian front door stripped ready for restoration
Ladycroft House’s entrance door stripped of years of paint.

At the workshop we use a heat gun to strip our doors for restoration finding we have more control. The old pitch pine can be very delicate and can be scraped away if not really cared for. I think dipping can be too harsh and affect the glue holding the door together, it also takes forever to dry and we wouldn’t want to lock any of that moisture in the door when painted.

Georgian front door stripped
Georgian door stripped showing where the lock and escutcheon was fitted.

At the workshop we use a heat gun to strip our doors for restoration finding we have more control. The old pitch pine can be very delicate and can be scraped away if not really cared for. I think dipping can be too harsh and affect the glue holding the door together, it also takes forever to dry and we wouldn’t want to lock any of that moisture in the door when painted.

Door Furniture

Restored Georgian front door in Derbyshire
Restored Georgian front door in Derbyshire

The door furniture, all removed, was now polished up and the lock refurbished, new spring and 4 new keys aged by Paul to look a more authentic. The octagonal door knob with it’s original pock mark now looks as beautiful as the day it was fitted. The new traditional night latch, new wooden rain deflector and brass kick plate compliment the door.

Georgian Glass

Yes, the glass design is unnoticeable complicated. The family crest in the fan light was definitely a first but well worth all the time and effort. It’s very rewarding to make something that is so unique, personal and that stands out. I used three different thicknesses of lead to get the detail right on the griffins, lion and the stars, soldering it all together trying not to simply bury the detail of the lead.

Designing Ladygrove House fan light
Sketching the Dakeyne Family crest at the workshop for the fan light.

Although the lines of the door leading looks simple (that’s the idea, it’s supposed to look Georgian) we worked an arrangement out to suit Dale’s precise specification.

Georgian Fan Light
The Dakeyne Family crest in the fan light at Ladycroft House.
Leaded Fanlight with Dakeyne family coat of arms
Fanlight with Dakeyne Family crest in full colour.

Door Colour

Georgian doors would not have been red. Black is a very Georgian colour. Dale chose a deep musky Farrow & Ball Haugue Blue. Then one Saturday morning when I had decided we’d better meet up to go through the glass design the door colour changed to our deep Classic Burgundy. I was really quite pleased and I think it looks fantastic with the brass and the red border we put in the glass.

Front Door Brass Kick Plate
Brass kick plate above the wooden rain deflector.

Restoration all finished

This really was a lot of work, late nights, amendments to designs, even the owls in Dale’s garden were twitting and twooing when I finished fitting the door and the two hours on the last day became 6. Who cares? It’s all good now, another piece of history saved to last another 100 years.

Restoration of Victorian front doors
Georgian front door restoration in Derbyshire

Leave a comment