The Importance of Detail – St Elphins Retirement Village, Matlock

St Elphins Retirement Village, Matlock

The scheme involved the restoration, adaptation and extension of an 1850’s girls boarding school adjacent to the village of Darley Dale in close proximity to Matlock and Bakewell in Derbyshire.

The site prior to being acquired by Audley for redevelopment into a retirement village had lain dormant for some time and the building including the stone elevations were in poor condition. Some totally incongruous alterations had been made to the building over the years including a rather crude blockwork stair enclosure.

The Architects M2H from Cardiff designed a scheme to carefully restore the original building altering many window and door openings to suit the buildings new use and extending the building to house a leisure centre and recreate the first floor of the Orangery. The extensions and modifications all entailed the use of Derbyshire grit stone to match the original building. The recreation of the first floor of the Orangery entailed quite an elaborate balustrade.

Aura Conservation secured the contract to carry out all of the restoration work including the stonework to the new extensions.

Initially Aura worked closely with M2H to establish a philosophy on the extent of cleaning and repairs and appropriate materials. A combination of Doff and mild chemical cleaning was selected after trials were undertaken. Re-pointing was carried out in a NHL mortar and similarly in-situ repairs to small losses in a n NHL based repair mortar.

Defective sections of stone were carefully cut out and replaced in new stone to match the original detail as near as possible and new stone provided to alter the facades creating new openings that are completely unobtrusive in the finished facades.

Aura developed the Architects drawings into detailed elevations and production drawings for all areas of new stone work including the incorporation of restraint and support fixings.


The stone has been traditionally fixed and the old and new are beginning to blend in and produce quite an impressive finish to the building.

A final part of Aura’s involvement in the scheme is on the restoration of the stonework to the walls and features surrounding the restored and extended building.


A croquet lawn is to be re-instated and the feature walls and staircases have already been carefully taken down re-built and restored. Throughout the development there are many stone ramps staircases and piers to be installed and finish the very impressive restoration of the site.


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