Installing a solar hot water system in a historic property requires special care so that no harm is done to the visual appearance or fabric of the building.
So when the National Trust decided to install a system at Nunnington Hall near York, once home to Robert Huicke, a doctor who tended three 16th century English monarchs, it turned to Sussex-based designers and manufacturers SolarUK, a well-established company whose award-winning LaZer2 solar collectors are already providing the hot water for the shop at Brimham Rocks, another North Yorkshire National Trust property In what proved a major undertaking, highly-skilled roofers, architectural joiners and many other professionals were brought in to ensure that tiles and pipework continued to blend with their surroundings after the panels were in place.
Obtaining planning permission for solar panels on this Grade 1 listed building had been a lengthy process, with one of the conditions being that they should not be visible from the outside. As part of a carefully-planned installation the SolarUK engineer who surveyed the property identified a south facing inner roof as the best spot for the panels.
Solar pipework emerging from a flat roof was designed to be indistinguishable from the exiting black cast iron pipes.
Nunnington Hall is open to the public for most of the year and has a busy programme of art and photographic exhibitions. As well as encouraging the government to achieve the UKs carbon dioxide reduction targets, the National Trust aims to apply energy saving principles to its own practices, reducing its energy demand and as here, with a solar thermal system up and running its reliance on fossil fuels.
One of Dr Huickes royal patients was Henry VIII, and another of the buildings former owners was the family of Catherine Parr, who became the kings sixth wife.
Even a character as hard to please as Henry VIII would have to admit that this house on the banks of the River Rye is as picturesque as ever and greener.