How To Heat A British Country House | Castrads
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How to Heat: A British country house

Case study featuring Underscar Manor in the Lake District

Topics: Original radiators, phased deliveries and on-site assembly.

Cast iron radiator with antique wood panelling in stately home.
Rococo II 760mm (30in) in Arley Hall, Cheshire

With historic properties, renovations are about honouring our national heritage and preserving the building for the future. We craft our cast iron radiators to last not decades but centuries, making them a natural choice that ensures a warm welcome for generations to come.

Home Heating Hurdles

Refreshing originals

Many stately homes in Britain are equipped with original 19th and early 20th-century cast-iron radiators. The majority were cast in Hull by the National Radiator Company (later Ideal Standard) and represent exceptional examples of British engineering. We see them as an intrinsic part of our manufacturing heritage that ought to be preserved in the same way as other protected architectural features.

Retaining as many original radiators as possible should be a priority. We can fully refurbish original radiators to give them a new lease of life and bring them up to date in terms of efficiency.

Phased deliveries - A time and a place

Large, historic buildings make for complex projects. Renovations take years and plans can change.

We offer phased deliveries to make sure radiators arrive on site exactly when they are needed. At Underscar Manor, for instance, we made four separate deliveries over a period of three years.

Orders are grouped and labelled by room and we supply CAD drawings and first-fit specs in the early stages of the project so that pipes can be made ready prior to delivery.

On-site assembly - Joining forces

cast iron radiator assembly tool
The Castrads radiator assembly toolkit

Most of our products arrive ready to be installed straight away. But bigger spaces need bigger, heavier radiators - anything over 100kg (220lbs) or 1.2m (4') is classed as oversized. These are delivered in two or three pieces to make manual lifting a reasonable, health and safety-compliant task.

We’ve made on-site assembly easier too with our own, industry-leading tool kit. Designed in-house and produced in collaboration with British manufacturers, our assembly kit can be found here along with full instructions and video help guides.

Case study - Lake District


The house - Underscar Manor, a Grade II-listed manor house built by textile merchant William Oxley between 1856 and 1863. It was designed by Charles Reed, an architect celebrated for his Italianate houses and villas.

The project - In-depth renovation centered on restoring historical features while also modernising the plumbing and electrics. The main design concept was to showcase the exquisite Lake District views surrounding the house by keeping the interiors neutral and understated.

Cast iron radiator in master bedroom of Victorian country house
Grace 4 Column 760mm (30in) in one of Underscar's eight bedrooms.

Underscar operated as a hotel from the 1970s until 2010, when it was bought by Russian oligarch Alexander Mineev who converted it back into a private residence. Sadly the house suffered unauthorised structural changes and extensive loss of original ornamentation.

After Mineev was murdered in Moscow in 2014, the house was purchased by current owner Jonathan Brown who began work to repair the damage and restore Oxley and Reed’s original vision.

Jonathan’s overall objective was to achieve historical accuracy along with lasting improvements, choosing to truly emphasise the value of high-quality materials, artisan techniques and local suppliers.

Cast iron radiator in drawing room of British country house with plaster moulding
A portrait of William Oxley above the original fireplace, surrounded by restored plasterwork.

The interior design is a masterclass in simplicity and continuity. Little Greene customised a minimal colour scheme for the whole house, all the furniture and lighting is by Timothy Oulton and the radiators are all from Castrads’ Grace range. Three Manchester-based companies, we each pride ourselves on our quality and heritage.

Trench heated bay window in drawing room of British manor house
View of Derwentwater from the drawing room.

A simple, neutral colour palette for the entire house ties every room together and draws attention to the full-length windows and rolling hills beyond. In this drawing room, the radiators are installed below floor level - a technique known as trench heating - so as not to interrupt the view. Cast-iron grilles set into the parquet above the radiators allow the heat to rise unobstructed into the room.

Cast iron radiators below windows in bedroom of Victorian mansion
Grace 6C radiators set below the window arches

With a minimal interior design concept and a singular vision for the whole house, the client chose just one model - Grace - for every room.

Slim line column radiator in hallway and radiator below window in bedroom
A slim-line Grace 2C at the top of the staircase and a Grace 4C in the adjoining bedroom.

We curate our collections to offer a huge array of sizing options across each model range giving our customers continuity throughout their property, from the ballroom to the broom cupboard.

In this bathroom, contemporary fittings harmonise with the period features. An abundance of natural light gives real depth and definition to the Full Polish finish on the radiators - but it’s still all about the view.

Cast iron radiator in entrance hall and boot room of country house
Grace 6C radiator fitted in entrance hall alcove

The restored mosaic floor takes centre stage in this entrance hall with a low 6-column Grace sitting neatly in the alcove. Our radiators are made to order so we can size them to customers’ exact requirements.

Column radiator below window in modern monochrome bathroom with slate flooring and white metro tiles
Grace 4C below bathroom window

In the modernised attic rooms, the interior remains sympathetic with the exterior - dark grey sparkle on the Grace radiator, brushed nickel valves and slate floor tiles enhance this monochromatic look that connects with the surroundings beyond.

Biomass boiler connected to large system of cast iron radiators.
Maze of pipes connecting Underscar's biomass boiler to the radiators above

With their ethos rooted in the conservation of the Manor’s history and the future sustainability of the property as a whole, the owners are ecologically-minded when it comes to heating.

They installed a new biomass boiler which makes their system highly efficient and low-carbon. TRVs fitted on all the radiators further reduce any wasted heat energy.

Cast iron radiators are ideally suited to alternative heating systems and renewable fuels. Read our How to heat an eco home guide to find out more.

The restoration of Underscar Manor extends to the gardens and grounds where conservation work is still ongoing.

Take a look at Underscar_Manor on Instagram to see them in action - beehives, rare breeds, woodland management, vineyard planting and more of those stunning Lake District views.

Underscar Manor, Victorian villa overlooking Derwentwater, Lake District
Exterior view of Underscar Manor


Atoll bed, Chesterfields, chandeliers by Timothy Oulton

Paint and paper by Little Greene