Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Countdown to our Architectural Awards IV

Our 2010 Architectural Awards, sponsored by Savills, will be presented tomorrow evening by Baroness Andrews OBE, Chairman of English Heritage. In the run-up to the event, we are posting the shortlists for some of the key categories, along with the judges' comments.

Restoration of a Georgian Garden or Landscape category

This award is especially prone to the vagaries of timing, as landscape restoration schemes are prolonged affairs. As usual, we include within the category schemes that involve the restoration of garden buildings and monuments and this year we have shortlisted four relatively petite projects.
Chillington Hall in Staffordshire, home of the Giffards for eight hundred years, retains a superb parkland setting in spite of the close attentions of the M54; the fine follies are complemented by a more utilitarian 1730 brick dovecote, though natural decay had rendered it neither use nor ornament until the completion of an inspired restoration project that has reinstated the lost oak roof, cupola and windows. Thus rescued, the building takes its place once more as the centrepiece of a fine and atmospheric service courtyard.

The Heritage Trust for the North-West is one of Britain’s most impressive building preservation trusts, combining campaigning zeal with an ability to save otherwise hopeless buildings and then restore them using impeccable conservation methods. It has recently taken on Carr of York’s Lytham Hall in Lancashire, itself in good structural condition but nonetheless requiring £5m of restoration work, and as a first step has restored the early nineteenth century brick Privy, built in charming Gothick style. Partly collapsed and at risk by 2008, it has now been conservatively repaired and rebuilt inside and out, with the project used to teach traditional building skills.

Queen Anne’s Summerhouse, on the Shuttleworth Estate in Bedfordshire, is another exemplary rescue project from the Landmark Trust. This handsome, foursquare 1712 folly has been restored with the sensitivity, attention to detail and mastery of traditional methods that we have come to expect from the Trust. The finely-pointed rubbed brick is once more resplendent following comprehensive restoration using traditional methods. The success of the project is a tribute to the vision of the Landmark Trust but also to craftsmen involved and to the trainees who worked alongside them, recarving for example the lost doorcase brackets.

Valentines Park in Ilford, on the London/Essex border, is a far-sighted restoration of a jewel of a Rococo garden built by Robert Surman, deputy cashier to South Sea Company. The house and garden miraculously survive in amongst dense urban development. But decay and neglect had attracted vandals and other reprobates, as decay and neglect always do. Now, beautifully restored with the Long Water dredged and the shell grottoes, dovecote and flint alcove seat pieced back together, there is a palpable sense of uplift that radiates far beyond the garden walls. It has, according to one resident, raised the tone of the whole borough.

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