Nocturnal squatters in ancient hall

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In its 563-year history, Ayscoughfee Hall has been used as a library, school, private home and museum.

But now staff at the 15th century visitor attraction are coming to terms with news that the hall is officially home to more nocturnal guests.

Evidence that brown long-eared bats are roosting in the roof above the entrance to the hall has been confirmed by Lincolnshire Bat Group after a survey carried out ahead of ongoing refurbishment of the Grade I listed building.

Droppings recently found at the hall were identified as coming from the bats, one of 11 species of the mammal believed to be in Lincolnshire.

But visitors to Ayscoughfee Hall needn’t be worried about confronting these creatures of the night as no firm sightings of the bats have been recorded yet.

Annette Faulkner from Spalding, who works for Lincolnshire Bat Group with her husband Colin, said: “The bats were first recorded as roosting at Ayscoughfee Hall in 1999 and we’ve done various surveys over the years on behalf of Natural England, the government body that deals with protected species.

“Bats and their roosts are protected by law and because the hall needed some work doing to it, another survey was done to see how it was possible to work round the bats.

“The group believes there are only a very small number of bats roosting at the hall and they are completely harmless to humans.”

A statement from South Holland District Council, which manages Ayscoughfee Hall, said: “Brown long-eared bats are roosting in the apex of the roof above the entrance at the hall.

“Effectively it means that, as bats are a protected species, we have to work around them and with new loft insulation due to be installed, we may have to use a material that is more bat-friendly.”