Excellence in Engineering


Great Dixter House

The Great Dixter Estate covers over 55 acres of beautiful East Sussex countryside and is run by the Great Dixter Charitable Trust. Parts of the Estate date back to the mid-15th century, and it was until his death in 2006 the home of world-renowned gardener Christopher Lloyd. It attracts over 45,000 visitors each year.

Following a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the Estate trustees commissioned a series of construction projects to carry out building conservation and improve the visitor experience; combining a unique mix of sustainable, energy efficient solutions that blend in with the site’s historic environment. Crofton has been appointed by the trustees to undertake full mechanical & electrical design across 3 stages.

The project won the Sussex Heritage Award 2013 and was a finalist in the H&V News Awards HVAC Project of the Year 2012

Package A (Jan 2010 – Jan 2011) - The main house

The first phase was to repair the historic timber frame of the north front of the medieval house. During these works, alterations to existing electrical services were carried out. 

One stipulation of the HLF grant was for the provision of a fire alarm system, and to ensure minimal disruption to the building’s existing fabric a radio operated system was deemed to be most appropriate. The exact position of all smoke detectors and other devices were agreed with the client, and to ensure minimal visual impact, each detector was individually coloured to blend in with interior decoration. Fire alarm control equipment was subsequently located discreetly in non-public areas.

Package B (July 2010 – July 2011) - Redevelopment of Dixter Farm buildings

This encompassed the conversion of Nathaniel Lloyd’s 1910 farm buildings adjacent to the Estate. These provide accommodation for resident apprentice gardeners from around the world, much-needed administration space and an educational facility for horticultural courses and school activities.

The package involved the design and implementation of a ground source heat pump system to serve under floor heating and domestic hot water to the existing farm outbuildings. An array of pipework was buried underneath a new Netlon grass car park for visitors to the gardens, to extract heat from the earth. The ground source heat pump then raises the temperature of the medium to a useful level via the refrigeration cycle. 

Package C (Sep 2011 – Apr 2012) - Repair of outbuildings and main house heating

The final phase of works incorporates the repair of the 15th century threshing barn and 19th century Oast House. A new heating system with a biomass boiler was designed to provide for the main house. This kind of system is considered to be almost carbon neutral if transport costs can be contained and is one of the most energy efficient and effective solutions for a historic building. The boiler’s fuel source will be sustainable, locally sourced wood chip.