CHANGES to a 15th century manor house in Pangbourne will go ahead, despite objections against the impact on the architectural and historic character of the building.

Bere Court, a Grade I listed building, will have centuries-old flooring removed and replaced with modern floorboards, as part of work to remove asbestos.

The 19th-century parquet flooring in the drawing room will be replaced with new oak floorboards. The floor has to be taken off to remove the asbestos, and due to its poor condition, would not be possible to reinstall.

The dining room, in the oldest part of the house, and the adjacent study, built in the early 19th century, both have pine floorboards, which will be replaced with oak boards. Removing the asbestos in the ground and first floors will allow safe access to and maintenance of the 15th-century vaults in the cellar.

Peter McHugh, the owner, said: “Bere Court has a tremendous history and we want to restore and repair it as best we can. There are no plans to significantly remodel it.

“There is a huge amount of asbestos in the basement—that’s why we have to remove the floor. We have no choice. I can’t have my family, my grandchildren, in there with any degree of confidence. That’s why we have to remove the floorboards.”

Bere Court was founded around 1400 and is connected to notable historical figures like the 14th century De La Bere family, the Sheriffs of Berkshire, and George Tate of Tate & Lyle Sugar Company.

The plans were considered by West Berkshire Council’s planning committee, which received seven letters objecting, as it was thought the flooring dated to the early 18th century and the asbestos could be removed via a trap door in the dining room.

Historic England is not objecting to the changes and Jasper Weldon, a specialist in historic parquet flooring, also agreed the drawing room floor was not worth retaining. Both agreed that the flooring actually dates to the late 19th century.

Councillor Pamela Bale said: “Bere Court is the only Grade I listed building in Pangbourne. [The changes] might possibly impact the listing. People thought the floor was early 18th-century, not late 19th-century. Priority has to be given to asbestos.”

Cllr Tim Metcalfe said: “Hats off to [Mr McHugh] for putting his hands in his pockets to preserve the house.”