Location: Ardress, Co Armagh

Frizzell’s Cottage is a Grade B2 listed building, which stands at the entrance to the 17th century Ardress House near Portadown and is a rare surviving example of a mud walled thatched dwelling which is believed to have been originally constructed around 1740, with a few later alterations in the 1950s. Last occupied by two elderly sisters called Frizzell, the cottage lay uninhabited for approximately 30 years, seeming to all intents and purposes an unremarkable pebbledash cottage with a corrugated iron roof covering and a 1950s flat roof rear extension. As the building fell into a state of disrepair, it was added to the “at risk” register of listed buildings in Northern Ireland.

In 1996 it passed into the hands of the National Trust and has benefitted from a legacy gift to the Trust which enabled them to undertake a restoration project.

The Practice, working in conjunction with the National Trust and with the builder, Robert Weir, were able to bring this hidden gem back to life using traditional techniques and materials, with hand made mud brick and thatch. Design and on-site works sought to ensure that the notable “vernacular” features surviving within Frizzell’s Cottage were retained, such as the brace beam across the central bay and jamb wall with the spy hole, and preserved the essential charm of the natural skew of the mud walling and the off square authenticity of the building. Many other conservation works to restore the cottage were also undertaken, including roof timber repairs, followed by re-thatching, lime render, new sash windows, doors and floors and a new extension to the side and the rear. This project has not only saved a rare mud walled building with original thatched roof from being lost, but has also highlighted how such buildings can be made functional for modern use.