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Bateman's House

Bateman's House

Bateman’s House in Lathkill Dale was home to James Bateman, the agent for Lathkill Mines in the 1840s. Its most unusual feature is that it is built directly over a deep lead mineshaft.

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The building has recently been made safe so that it will not suffer further deterioration and visitors can safely explore it.

The repair work was quite an undertaking and required extra funds to be sought form the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage. Starting underground, where green oak beams were used to replace the existing rotting ones, the specialist builders worked their way through the two metre deep layers of rubble that filled most of the rooms. Roots were dug out, walls pointed with special mortar, plaster and render carefully repaired and a number of interesting discoveries made.

The work has revealed clear evidence that the structure was built in phases, the earliest being purely industrial. Doors, windows and fireplaces seem to have been added at a later date. A number of features still require explanation: walls built over walls; windows converted into flues; sockets and recesses in odd places. The semi-circular steps to the front door, about the size of millstones, are an outstanding feature. One of the best finds was a deeply engraved sandstone boundary marker that delimits the ownerships of the Duke of Devonshire (marked with ‘DD’) and the Melbourne Estate (‘M’).

Exploration underground in the dry summer of 2003 found two shafts under the house, one filled with rubble.

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