Thursday, 29 November 2012

Bid to rebuild dismantled Georgian country house

From The Derby Telegraph

The owner of a dismantled Georgian country house has offered to rebuild it to serve as a Wright of Derby tourist attraction. Kevin Ellis owns Burnaston House, a country house in Derbyshire taken apart in the 1990s and put into storage so that a Toyota plant could be built.

Since then, Mr Ellis has made several attempts to secure planning permission to reassemble it in South Derbyshire but has been denied planning permission. He says the house could be the ideal setting for a tourist attraction to house the city's collection of Joseph Wright paintings and artefacts.

Mr Ellis has spoken out in the wake of a new debate over whether the city is making the most of its Wrights. In June, it was revealed the city council owns several Wrights that are stored out of public sight. At the moment, some oils are on display in a dedicated room at the Museum and Art Gallery but Mr Ellis believes they and the dozens of sketches in storage deserve greater exposure.

This month saw the official launch of Derby Museums, a charitable trust which will work to improve the city's museums service and promote Wright of Derby. Its executive director, Stuart Gillis, said: "Derby Museums, the city council and other partners are working together on development schemes for various aspects of the city's excellent heritage. It is unclear how the type of proposal suggested could currently be accommodated; however, it's very useful to know about this resource. We suggest that Mr Ellis seeks guidance from English Heritage." Derby Museums is drawing up its own plans to take the collection of Wright paintings on an international tour of top art galleries. The exhibition would then end in Derby with a large celebratory event. Mr Gillis said he hoped the tour could show the people of Derby the true value of the Wright collection.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

2012 GEORGIAN GROUP ARCHITECTURAL AWARDS SPONSORED BY SAVILLS: THE WINNERS

SPECIAL AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT

Stowe House and Landscape, Buckinghamshire


Last year we instituted a special award for outstanding achievement in the conservation sphere. We were unanimous in conferring it this year on the restoration of Stowe House and Landscape in Buckinghamshire, a superlative joint effort by the National Trust and, since 1997, the Stowe House Preservation Trust. Important parts of the estate, including the Grand Avenue, came close to being covered in bungalows in the mid twentieth century. From this nadir there has been a stunning resurgence. The house, while functioning throughout as a school – what an education in itself to be a pupil there - has been magnificently restored, the glories of the South Portico, the East Colonnade, the Large Library and the Marble Saloon fully recovered. And around the school, in a landscape laden with coded political symbolism, the original vision, long obscured by inappropriate later additions and infelicitous planting, has been recovered, as the Corinthian Arch and numerous other garden buildings have one by one been restored. What a triumph this has been: to visit now is to see this masterpiece of eighteenth century iconography very much as its makers intended.

RESTORATION OF A GEORGIAN COUNTRY HOUSE

JOINT WINNER Boconnoc House, near Lostwithiel, Cornwall Stephen Tyrrell for Anthony and Elizabeth Fortescue.

Boconnoc, designed principally by the first Lord Camelford, was empty for thirty years from 1967, after which it was naturally leaking and riddled with rot, the house has gently revived and renewed by the Fortescues, owners since 1834. An eleven-year programme has seen the roof and joists replaced and the drawing room, library, dining room and King’s bedroom restored. The eighteenth century paint scheme has been reinstated. But the pièce de résistance is the rescue of the dramatic double staircase that Soane inserted in a tower of 1250. Here, water damage has been repaired and the discoloured varnish painstakingly removed with cotton wool swabs to reveal the grisaille in all its original crispness.

JOINT WINNER Eastnor Castle, near Ledbury, Herefordshire Caroe and Partners for James Hervey Bathurst. 

Eastnor was finished two hundred years ago exactly, on which anniversary a lengthy restoration started by his parents has been completed by the present owner, James Hervey-Bathurst. Externally, the roof has been replaced and the fabric made good where necessary. Internally, the principal rooms have been superbly re-presented and the value of the project consists principally in the meticulousness with which the dulled and partly denuded interiors have been brought back to life with appropriate furnishings. Tapestries, paintings and furniture have been repaired and restored, even reacquired where lost, and a Puginesque carpet woven for the Gothic drawing room. It has been an impressive holistic endeavour, born of an understanding that the spirit of country houses lies not in their fabric only but in their contents.

COMMENDED Chideock Manor, near Bridport, Dorset Mr and Mrs Howard Coates; library by Andrew Stone.

Regency Chideock was elatively recently acquired by Howard and Deidre Coates, who have breathed life into a tired house and landscape, unifying the two with ambitious works that allow the house – not scrubbed clean, still lichen-flecked - to be viewed from a new serpentine drive across a freshly-dredged lake. That view, and indeed the house, have been transformed by a fine new classical library extension by Andrew Stone on the site of a demolished Edwardian wing. As a result, a gaunt and scarred end elevation has been resolved and an unbalanced composition brought back into equilibrium, the extension answering a need to respond to the Romanesque church on the other flank, where the Catholic Chideock Martyrs hid and practised. Mrs Coates, an accomplished gardener, has revivified the grounds with a new box garden and allée.


RESTORATION OF A GEORGIAN BUILDING IN AN URBAN SETTING

WINNER 16 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1 For Mr Troels Holch Povlsen.

One of several large London townhouses recently converted back from office to single residential use, but few have been carried off with such subtlety and sensitivity as this one, exquisitely restored, redecorated and refurnished by the present owner. Of course the office paraphernalia of suspended ceilings, stud partitions and ubiquitous lino have been swept away, but instead of the plutocratic brashness, even kitschiness, that we sometimes see in their place we have here the antithesis: a deeply considered approach exhibiting faultless taste. A sober sculpture gallery is about to be reborn, so fitting for a house next door to Charles Townley’s, whose collection of marbles was bought by the British Museum in 1805; and in the back garden the owner plans an aviary on Birdcage Walk.

COMMENDED 12 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2 Julian Harrap for the Soane Museum.

    One of the trio of buildings occupied by the Soane Museum and Soane’s first family house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, now  meticulously restored using Soane’s 1793 plans and decorative specification, evident in the striking Pompeian Red walls, Harewood grained joinery and sky-effect ceiling in the Withdrawing Room. The full-height cantilvered stair has been returned to its original form, with unsightly propping removed. The attention to detail, quality of the work and authenticity of the restoration are immediately evident, but it is also a practical project, finding room for a conservation studio and a shop, and an inventive one, with imaginative flourishes such as the lift behind a trompe l’oeil bookcase and an unobtrusive disabled lift in the front lightwell that is a model of its kind.

COMMENDED 210-212 Sharrow Vale Road, Sheffield, Yorkshire By and for Andrew Whitham.

A run of three 1810 snuff workers’ cottages, two of them built as back-to-backs, that adjoin the oldest snuff mill in the world, dating from 1740. Snuff is still made locally. This decrepit trio, unlisted, was on the market as a development opportunity but was saved from demolition by Andrew Whitham and, as part of the process, was spotlisted Grade II. Now, conservatively restored, it serves as single dwelling that retains its original plan form and hierarchical joinery. The gardens too have been restored to their nineteenth century layout. A building at risk, redolent of local industrial history, has thus been rescued from the brink of ruin.



REUSE OF A GEORGIAN BUILDING

WINNER Roehampton House, London SW15
Giles Quarme for the St James Group.

Roehampton House in south-west London has all the intrinsic grandeur you would expect of a marriage of Archer and Lutyens, but this had been badly injured by the casual barbarities inflicted during its long spell as a hospital in the twentieth century. The iron law of institutional use is that rubbish accumulates in and around historic buildings: sheds, portakabins, car parks, all manner of accretive overlay that obscures what is finest in the architecture and setting. Added to that, massive RSJs had been inserted in the 1970s to increase floor loading capacity. All this has now been expertly unpicked: proper proportions rediscovered, panelling restored and reinstated, car parks turned into gardens. The eighteenth century house, once an apologetic side-show, is now triumphantly centre-stage and serves once more as a grand place to live.

COMMENDED Wem Mill, Wem, Shropshire AP Architecture for Guild Homes.

An early nineteenth century mill, formerly disused and at risk and now also converted to apartments. Its recent history is the usual post-industrial tale of disuse, decay and dereliction, not confined to the north but also evident in southerly counties where housing shortages are most acute. It makes perfect sense, as here, to solve both problems together by converting mills, with their large, open-plan internal volumes, to reasonably high-density housing. On brownfield sites such as this, where demolition is often the preferred option, surviving historic buildings can provide an anchor, a fixed point that roots a new housing development in its historic context.


RESTORATION OF A GEORGIAN CHURCH

WINNER St Peter and St Paul, Cherry Willingham, Lincolnshire Christopher Mackinstosh-Smith for Cherry Willingham Parochial Church Council


St Peter and St Paul, in a village just east of Lincoln, is a charming small church of 1753 that caught the eye of Pevsner. Conservative restoration, to which we at the Georgian Group made a small financial contribution through our Cleary Fund, has involved removal of wet and dry rot, repair and releading of the roof and replacement of the cupola. The previous cupola, riddled with rot and patched up with plywood in the 1960s, has made way for one in oak topped with a lead ogee cap and regilded weathervane. Small is indeed beautiful, and this scheme stops just where it needs to stop. We are confronted weekly by schemes for country churches that entail over-sized extensions and the removal of fittings, including Georgian box pews. It is a depressing litany, and one year perhaps we will give this award to parishioners who have sensibly decided to resist the temptation and leave well alone. But in the meantime genuine needs arise as fabric deteriorates; this scheme addresses them proportionately and well.


RESTORATION OF A GEORGIAN GARDEN AND LANDSCAPE

WINNER Kensington Palace, London (gardens) Todd Longstaffe-Gowan for Historic Royal Palaces.

The view from the Palace towards the Round Pound before (left) and after
Todd Longstaffe-Gowan has transformed the relationship between the Palace and the park to which it historically belongs but from which it has long been divorced by virtue of clutter and bad planting. For too many years it has been lurking half-apologetically behind surburban shrubberies, the great Bridgeman axes of the eighteenth century petering out in a confused mess of benches, dustbins, security railings and scrappy hedges. The bathos was palpable. Now the defensiveness has gone, the proper historic relationship has been restored and the mousehole entrance to the Palace has been given due status by a delicate freestanding loggia by John Simpson.

COMMENDED Old Alresford House, Old Alresford, Hampshire Colvin and Moggridge for Michael Hall.

The owner Michael Hall has restored and completed Richard Woods’ 1764 design for the pleasure grounds. It is a compelling tale, to some extent a detective story: the rediscovery of the original Woods drawing, painstaking research, the re-routing of the ha-ha back along its original path, the sourcing of contemporary plants, the shifting of shrubberies to the alignment intended by Woods, the reintroduction of livestock; and the finishing of a project abandoned by Admiral Rodney, Woods’ client, in 1768 when he fled to France to escape his creditors. The result is a fine tableau vivant, authentic to a degree; and as misjudgements and errors from the twentieth century are corrected, the whole composition, and the relationship between house and estate, begins once more to make sense.

COMMENDED Stanford Hall, near Lutterworth, Leicestershire Donald Insall Associates for Nicholas Fothergill.

The restored Charles I Bridge at Stanford
Nicholas Fothergill, whose family have owned Stanford since 1540, has overseen substantial works, in association with Natural England, that have the triple objectives of nature, landscape and building conservation. Ponds have been dredged, hedgerows laid, a new wood planted, existing woods coppiced and several miles of traditional fencing installed. Listed park structures have been repaired using traditional materials and methods. The Charles I bridge, partly collapsed, has been rebuilt using Lias stone, the galvanised roof of the deer hut replaced with thatch and the gates and iron railings repaired to such exacting ecological standards that colonies of lichen on the metal were left undisturbed.


NEW BUILDING IN THE CLASSICAL TRADITION

WINNER The Obelisk, Tusmore Park, Oxfordshire
Andrew Lockwood of Whitfield Lockwood for Mr and Mrs Wafic Said.

This is celebratory architecture, commemorating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Ninety feet high, in limestone on an ashlar plinth, the obelisk stands one mile from house, to which we awarded this prize in 2004, and stands in the grand tradition of monumental eyecatchers. This is a compelling expression of confidence by a client in the mould of eighteenth century patrons: a creator of wonders in a pedestrian climate where too few wonders exist. The obelisk is carefully designed and scaled to be seen from a distance but also bears the closest scrutiny. The detailing is exquisite, not least in the gilded cap, the Corinthian pedestal and the delicately-carved life-size eagles, holding garlands in their talons, that call to mind those on Trajan’s column in Rome.
  
COMMENDED Newham, Lostwithiel, Cornwall Russell Taylor Architects for Mr and Mrs H Staunton.

An impressive essay in restrained classicism. Though relatively small, the house is coolly monumental. There is no redundant frippery or ostentation here: the columns, where they appear, are monolithic, almost primitive, in a way wholly appropriate to the material and context. Throughout there is a sense of thoughtfulness and serious attention to detail, evident in the rough, hand-punched granite gate piers and lintels, the depth of the reveals and the subtle entasis of the columns in the hall. Deeply tactile and textured, Newham rises from the landscape almost literally, being built very largely from Cornish materials: the granite is from the De Lank quarry, fifteen miles away, roofing slate is from the Trevillick quarry, rubblestone walling from the North Cornish coast and slate paving from Delabole, twenty miles away. Unsurprisingly, the house sits entirely comfortably on its site.

GILES WORSLEY AWARD FOR A NEW BUILDING IN A GEORGIAN CONTEXT

WINNER New bath house and extension, Williamstrip, Coln St Aldwyns, Gloucestershire
Craig Hamilton for Mr and Mrs John Kennedy

The new extension
Entrance to the new bath house
The extension remedies the muddle that existed on the south side of the house, rationalising the entrance courtyard and providing an impressive double-height hall with a Corinthian screen partly composed of columns in Kilkenny marble. The effect on the east elevation of the house is transformative, with the dinginess swept away and a subsidiary elevation added in the form of a beautifully composed, rigorous pavilion with a clear logic of its own. Across from this, in a garden setting, is a monumental new bath house, devoted to the pursuit of relaxation but deeply serious and robust as a piece of architecture. This is a powerful statement, impressive in the conviction with which it expresses its apparent message: mens sana in corpore sano. 

COMMENDED The Orangery, Sledmere House, Driffield, East Riding of Yorkshire Francis Johnson and Partners for Sir Tatton Sykes.

Sir John Soane's Orangery stood at Fairford Park in Gloucestershire until Fairford was demolished in 1957, at which point the National Trust dismantled the façade and sanctioned its removal to Sledmere. Its numbered blocks have since been carefully stored at Sledmere, awaiting reconstruction. In a project instigated by Sir Tatton Sykes, this has now happened, the original façade now married to a fine new garden building by Digby Harris of Francis Johnson Architects, its coved ceiling enlivened by intricate plasterwork by Stevenson’s of Norwich. The Bath stone of the orangery tones remarkably well with the Mansfield stone of Sledmere; it is a happy and harmonious conjunction.




Tuesday, 30 October 2012

GEORGIAN GROUP ARCHITECTURAL AWARDS / THE SHORTLISTS / AWARD CATEGORY / NEW BUILDING IN THE CLASSICAL TRADITION

There is clearly no shortage of commissions, despite the recession. From an unprecedented number of entries – seventeen - we have shortlisted two projects, listed here in alphabetical order. 

The first, Newham, on the Fowey estuary in Cornwall, is an impressive essay in restrained classicism. Though relatively small, the house is coolly monumental. There is no redundant frippery or ostentation here: the columns, where they appear, are monolithic, almost primitive, in a way wholly appropriate to the material and context. Throughout there is a sense of thoughtfulness and serious attention to detail, evident in the rough, hand-punched granite gate piers and lintels, the depth of the reveals and the subtle entasis of the columns in the hall. Deeply tactile and textured, Newham rises from the landscape almost literally, being built very largely from Cornish materials: the granite is from the De Lank quarry, fifteen miles away, roofing slate is from the Trevillick quarry, rubblestone walling from the North Cornish coast and slate paving from Delabole, twenty miles away. Unsurprisingly, the house sits entirely comfortably on its site.

Our second scheme is the Obelisk at Tusmore Park in Oxfordshire. This is celebratory architecture, commemorating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Ninety feet high, in limestone on an ashlar plinth, the obelisk stands one mile from house, to which we awarded this prize in 2004, and stands in the grand tradition of monumental eyecatchers. This is a compelling expression of confidence by a client in the mould of eighteenth century patrons: a creator of wonders in a pedestrian climate where too few wonders exist. The obelisk is carefully designed and scaled to be seen from a distance but also bears the closest scrutiny. The detailing is exquisite, not least in the gilded cap, the Corinthian pedestal and the delicately-carved life-size eagles, holding garlands in their talons, that call to mind those on Trajan’s column in Rome.

The winner will be announced on the evening of 31 October 2012.

GEORGIAN GROUP ARCHITECTURAL AWARDS 2012 / THE SHORTLISTS / AWARD CATEGORY / REUSE OF A GEORGIAN BUILDING

Redundancy can often herald a miserable period in a building’s history but it also offers opportunities for those who can see the almost endless potential of historic buildings for adaptation and flexible reuse. In this category we have shortlisted two schemes, listed here in alphabetical order. 

Roehampton House in south-west London has all the intrinsic grandeur you would expect of a marriage of Archer and Lutyens, but this had been badly injured by the casual barbarities inflicted during its long spell as a hospital in the twentieth century. The iron law of institutional use is that rubbish accumulates in and around historic buildings: sheds, portakabins, car parks, all manner of accretive overlay that obscures what is finest in the architecture and setting. Added to that, massive RSJs had been inserted in the 1970s to increase floor loading capacity. All this has now been expertly unpicked: proper proportions rediscovered, panelling restored and reinstated, car parks turned into gardens. The eighteenth century house, once an apologetic side-show, is now triumphantly centre-stage and serves once more as a grand place to live.

Wem Mill in Shrewsbury is an early nineteenth century mill, formerly disused and at risk and now also converted to apartments. Its recent history is the usual post-industrial tale of disuse, decay and dereliction, not confined to the north but also evident in southerly counties where housing shortages are most acute. It makes perfect sense, as here, to solve both problems together by converting mills, with their large, open-plan internal volumes, to reasonably high-density housing. On brownfield sites such as this, where demolition is often the preferred option, surviving historic buildings can provide an anchor, a fixed point that roots a new housing development in its historic context.

The winner will be announced on the evening of 31 October 2012. 

GEORGIAN GROUP ARCHITECTURAL AWARDS / THE SHORTLISTS / AWARD CATEGORY / THE GILES WORSLEY AWARD FOR A NEW BUILDING IN A GEORGIAN CONTEXT

We were delighted to be able to name this award, introduced in 2006, in honour of the distinguished architectural historian Dr Giles Worsley, who served as a Trustee of the Georgian Group for many years.

The award is an especially apt tribute to Giles, as he himself inspired it. He was, as we know, equally comfortable with historic and contemporary buildings and he sensibly saw past, present and future as part of the same continuum. Our two shortlisted schemes are listed below in alphabetical order. 

Sir John Soane's Orangery at Sledmere House in the East Riding stood at Fairford Park in Gloucestershire until Fairford was demolished in 1957, at which point the National Trust dismantled the façade and sanctioned its removal to Sledmere. Its numbered blocks have since been carefully stored at Sledmere, awaiting reconstruction. In a project instigated by Sir Tatton Sykes, this has now happened, the original façade now married to a fine new garden building by Digby Harris of Francis Johnson Architects, its coved ceiling enlivened by intricate plasterwork by Stevenson’s of Norwich. The Bath stone of the orangery tones remarkably well with the Mansfield stone of Sledmere; it is a happy and harmonious conjunction.

The second shortlisted scheme is the extension and bath house at Williamstrip in Gloucestershire. Both are designed by Craig Hamillton. The extension remedies the muddle that existed on the south side of the house, rationalising the entrance courtyard and providing an impressive double-height hall with a Corinthian screen partly composed of columns in Kilkenny marble. The effect on the east elevation of the house is transformative, with the dinginess swept away and a subsidiary elevation added in the form of a beautifully composed, rigorous pavilion with a clear logic of its own. Across from this, in a garden setting, is a monumental new bath house, devoted to the pursuit of relaxation but deeply serious and robust as a piece of architecture. This is a powerful statement, impressive in the conviction with which it expresses its apparent message: mens sana in corpore sano. 


 The winner will be announced on the evening of 31 October 2012.






GEORGIAN GROUP ARCHITECTURAL AWARDS 2012 / THE SHORTLISTS / AWARD CATEGORY / RESTORATION OF A GEORGIAN BUILDING IN AN URBAN SETTING

We are all well aware these days of the key rôle that historic buildings play in urban regeneration, and part of the purpose of this award is to acknowledge the contribution made by restored Georgian buildings to the quality and vitality of our towns and cities. The three shortlisted schemes, listed alphabetically below, are:

   12 Lincoln's Inn Fields, one of the trio of buildings occupied by the Soane Museum. This, Soane’s first family house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, has been meticulously restored using Soane’s 1793 plans and decorative specification, evident in the striking Pompeian Red walls, Harewood grained joinery and sky-effect ceiling in the Withdrawing Room. The full-height cantilvered stair has been returned to its original form, with unsightly propping removed. The attention to detail, quality of the work and authenticity of the restoration are immediately evident, but it is also a practical project, finding room for a conservation studio and a shop, and an inventive one, with imaginative flourishes such as the lift behind a trompe l’oeil bookcase and an unobtrusive disabled lift in the front lightwell that is a model of its kind.

16 Queen Anne’s Gate is one of several large London townhouses recently converted back from office to single residential use, but few have been carried off with such subtlety and sensitivity as this one, exquisitely restored, redecorated and refurnished by the present owner. Of course the office paraphernalia of suspended ceilings, stud partitions and ubiquitous lino have been swept away, but instead of the plutocratic brashness, even kitschiness, that we sometimes see in their place we have here the antithesis: a deeply considered approach exhibiting faultless taste. A sober sculpture gallery is about to be reborn, so fitting for a house next door to Charles Townley’s, whose collection of marbles was bought by the British Museum in 1805; and in the back garden the owner plans an aviary on Birdcage Walk.

Also shortlisted is 210-212 Sharrow Vale Road in Sheffield, a run of three 1810 snuff workers’ cottages, two of them built as back-to-backs, that adjoin the oldest snuff mill in the world, dating from 1740. Snuff is still made locally. This decrepit trio, unlisted, was on the market as a development opportunity but was saved from demolition by Andrew Whitham and, as part of the process, was spotlisted Grade II. Now, conservatively restored, it serves as single dwelling that retains its original plan form and hierarchical joinery. The gardens too have been restored to their nineteenth century layout. A building at risk, redolent of local industrial history, has thus been rescued from the brink of ruin.

The winner will be announced on the evening of 31 October 2012.


GEORGIAN GROUP ARCHITECTURAL AWARDS 2012 / THE SHORTLISTS / AWARD CATEGORY / RESTORATION OF A GEORGIAN GARDEN OR LANDSCAPE

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. This year we have shortlisted three projects, listed below in alphabetical order.

The view from the Palace towards the Round Pound before (left) and after
The first is at Kensington Palace, where Todd Longstaffe-Gowan has transformed the relationship between the Palace and the park to which it historically belongs but from which it has long been divorced by virtue of clutter and bad planting. For too many years it has been lurking half-apologetically behind surburban shrubberies, the great Bridgeman axes of the eighteenth century petering out in a confused mess of benches, dustbins, security railings and scrappy hedges. The bathos was palpable. Now the defensiveness has gone, the proper historic relationship has been restored and the mousehole entrance to the Palace has been given due status by a delicate freestanding loggia by John Simpson.

Our second shortlisted scheme is Old Alresford House in Hampshire, where the owner Michael Hall has restored and completed Richard Woods’ 1764 design for the pleasure grounds. It is a compelling tale, to some extent a detective story: the rediscovery of the original Woods drawing, painstaking research, the re-routing of the ha-ha back along its original path, the sourcing of contemporary plants, the shifting of shrubberies to the alignment intended by Woods, the reintroduction of livestock; and the finishing of a project abandoned by Admiral Rodney, Woods’ client, in 1768 when he fled to France to escape his creditors. The result is a fine tableau vivant, authentic to a degree; and as misjudgements and errors from the twentieth century are corrected, the whole composition, and the relationship between house and estate, begins once more to make sense.

The restored Charles I Bridge at Stanford
Finally we have the restoration of the Stanford Hall estate in Leicestershire, where Nicholas Fothergill, whose family have owned Stanford since 1540, has overseen substantial works, in association with Natural England, that have the triple objectives of nature, landscape and building conservation. Ponds have been dredged, hedgerows laid, a new wood planted, existing woods coppiced and several miles of traditional fencing installed. Listed park structures have been repaired using traditional materials and methods. The Charles I bridge, partly collapsed, has been rebuilt using Lias stone, the galvanised roof of the deer hut replaced with thatch and the gates and iron railings repaired to such exacting ecological standards that colonies of lichen on the metal were left undisturbed.

The winner will be announced on the evening of 31 October 2012.

GEORGIAN GROUP ARCHITECTURAL AWARDS 2012 / THE SHORTLISTS / AWARD CATEGORY / RESTORATION OF A GEORGIAN COUNTRY HOUSE

There are two aspects to restoring country houses. One is about repairing fabric, perhaps dramatically so after a fire. But the other, more subtle but no less important, is about revivifying a place, allowing it to recover its spirit. The results are not always spectacular. Sometimes they are hardly noticeable; but we mean that as a compliment. Our three shortlisted schemes, summarised in alphabetical order, have carefully retained patina and atmosphere. In the scrape versus anti-scrape divide, they would definitely fall in the latter camp. Given the necessary resources, it is easy to do too much, harder perhaps to exercise restraint. With each of these schemes, a private owner has revivified a home without sacrificing its quiet essence. It is a subtle process, but no less heroic and Herculean for that.

First is Boconnoc in Cornwall, designed principally by the first Lord Camelford. Empty for thirty years from 1967, after which it was naturally leaking and riddled with rot, the house has gently revived and renewed by the Fortescues, owners since 1834. An eleven-year programme has seen the roof and joists replaced and the drawing room, library, dining room and King’s bedroom restored. The eighteenth century paint scheme has been reinstated. But the pièce de résistance is the rescue of the dramatic double staircase that Soane inserted in a tower of 1250. Here, water damage has been repaired and the discoloured varnish painstakingly removed with cotton wool swabs to reveal the grisaille in all its original crispness.

Our second scheme is Regency Chideock Manor in Dorset, relatively recently acquired by Howard and Deidre Coates, who have breathed life into a tired house and landscape, unifying the two with ambitious works that allow the house – not scrubbed clean, still lichen-flecked - to be viewed from a new serpentine drive across a freshly-dredged lake. That view, and indeed the house, have been transformed by a fine new classical library extension by Andrew Stone on the site of a demolished Edwardian wing. As a result, a gaunt and scarred end elevation has been resolved and an unbalanced composition brought back into equilibrium, the extension answering a need to respond to the Romanesque church on the other flank, where the Catholic Chideock Martyrs hid and practised. Mrs Coates, an accomplished gardener, has revivified the grounds with a new box garden and allée.

We have also shortlisted the restoration of Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire, finished two hundred years ago exactly, on which anniversary a lengthy restoration started by his parents has been completed by the present owner, James Hervey-Bathurst. Externally, the roof has been replaced and the fabric made good where necessary. Internally, the principal rooms have been superbly re-presented and the value of the project consists principally in the meticulousness with which the dulled and partly denuded interiors have been brought back to life with appropriate furnishings. Tapestries, paintings and furniture have been repaired and restored, even reacquired where lost, and a Puginesque carpet woven for the Gothic drawing room. It has been an impressive holistic endeavour, born of an understanding that the spirit of country houses lies not in their fabric only but in their contents.

The winner will be announced on the evening of 31 October 2012.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Inspired solution to the problem of lead theft

In a letter published in today's Times, our Trustee Hugh Petter suggests a novel and environmentally-friendly solution to the growing problem of lead thefts from historic churches.

Sir, The problem of lead being stolen from the roofs of historic buildings has become more acute in recent years as the bite of the recession becomes ever more profound. As a long-standing champion of historic buildings I was struck by the brilliance of an idea which has been applied to the church of some friends of mine in York which has suffered repeatedly at the hand of lead thieves. The flat roofs of this historic building are now the home of bees — this keeps the hives away from the public in urban areas, provides delicious honey for the local community and acts as a powerful disincentive for anyone minded to remove the lead. Since the hives were installed on the church in York there has been no further trouble.

Hugh Petter
Director, ADAM Architecture

Friday, 4 May 2012

Burglary at Chavenage House, Glos, 26 April

PLEASE FORWARD DETAILS AND IMAGES TO ANY CONTACTS WHO ARE HISTORIC HOUSE OWNERS OR CUSTODIANS OF COLLECTIONS, CERAMICS CONSERVATORS, AUCTIONEERS, VALUERS, DEALERS OR COLLECTORS.

ANY INFORMATION WHICH MIGHT LEAD TO THE RETRIEVAL OF THE ITEMS OR ABOUT THE CRIME ITSELF SHOULD BE RELAYED TO MIKE PRENTICE AT GLOUCESTERSHIRE POLICE mike.prentice@gloucestershire.pnn.police.uk THE CRIME REFERENCE NUMBER IS 10317-12

Items taken include:

OAK ROOM
A George II simulated tortoiseshell bracket clock, the bell topped case enclosing an eight-day fusee movement with verge escapement and an engraved black plate, the arched brace face with a strike/silent and seconds subsidiary dials flanking the maker's label, Robt. and Pet. Higgs, London, the silvered chapter ring enclosing a false pendulum and calendar aperture, height 1'6'.

Contents of a China Cabinet
· A pair of circular two-handled ice pail, covers and liners circa 1820, each piece painted with shaped reserves of sailors in and around a hour on a gilded green ground, one handle repaired 9in (2)
· A pair of Dresden candlesticks, one decorated with seated boy with garlanded hair, a flowered pink cloak, holding festoon of flowers, the other with seated girl, her hair garlanded with vine leaves, wearing flowered blue robe and holding a basket of fruits. Both on circular panelled stands and leaning against tree trunk on which is set the candleholder. Height 7" and 7 1/4" respectively
· Other contents of the cabinet, including a Japanese ovoid bulbous bottle vase c1880 and Sevres style coffee can and saucer.
 

A pair of oval miniature portraits on ivory, c1780 of John Lowsley and Mary Lowsley, gilt frames. A group of four family miniature portraits, early 19th Century, of a young man, his wife and their two children.

 


BILLIARD ROOM
 
A George IV mahogany sarcophagus cellaret circa 1825, the flattened pyramidal lid carved with fruit, above a panelled body on paw feet. 1'11" by 2' 10" and a Regency elm and rosewood parquetry games table, circa 1820, the moulded square top inlaid for Nine Men's Morris, with successive bands of figured wood, above a frieze drawer on a square banded stem and concave square platform with paw feet, 2' 4" by 1'10" (top only visible in photograph). A 19th century ormolu and porcelain mantle clock by P.H. Moury. The enamelled face with flying cupid centrepiece and numeral panels on bleu de roi ground, in arched frame, inset arcadian landscape panel, with ormolu ribbon cresting and laurel swags, supported by flanking pillars on shaped plinth with floral inset panel and surmounted by porcelain urn with ormolu swags. 15"x 9".

Thursday, 3 May 2012

After 200 years, demolished to make way for a taxi turning circle


Carmarthenshire County Council, having granted itself permission, has just demolished a row of ordinary late Georgian buildings, which contributed positively to the Llanelli streetscape, in order to make way for a taxi rank turning circle for the new East Gate leisure development. 




 







 




 




















The buildings formed the corner of Park Street and Island Place - 24 Park Street to 2 Island Place. Among the oldest streets in Llanelli, Park Street and Island Place were the original route into the town for mail coaches running between Swansea and Carmarthen. An old coaching inn, 'Ty Melyn', still exists in Park Street. The buildings were largely unaltered and were the best examples of early commercial properties in the town. The original shop here, The Llanelly Clog, Boot and Shoe Manufactory, was the region's largest clog maker and supplied local colliers and tinplate workers.


In a press statement that made no reference to objections to the scheme from amenity societies and others, the local authority said: "A short line of cottages off Upper Park Street offered little resistance to bulldozers clearing the way for the dawning of the £25million East Gate development. The removal of the buildings is one of the last stages of clearance work heralding the new East Gate destined to become a mecca for family entertainment boosting the town’s economy and fortunes later this year. Known in recent years at the CopyTech buildings, the old stone and brick cottages were fully architecturally surveyed and found to have little or no merit other than being photographically recorded for posterity. Contractors said they were poorly constructed and collapsed in little more than 30 minutes with little encouragement '.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Friends hope Gothic Hall reopening will herald 'great revival' of Elvaston Castle


ELVASTON Castle's Gothic Hall, designed by Lewis Cottingham in 1831 for the 4th Earl of Harrington, is to be opened to the public once more.

The Grade II* listed castle in Derbyshire has been closed since it was last used as a wedding venue in 2007.​ £36,500 has been spent making the hall compliant with fire regulations by putting in place a new fire alarm system.


A council spokeswoman said: "Public viewing days will be held several times a year. And the Gothic Hall is now available for hire – providing a unique setting for meetings, workshops and events."


The authority says it wants to find someone to take over the upkeep of the castle and its grounds because the £700,000 a year upkeep costs are not affordable. It is waiting to hear from the National Trust about whether the organisation is able to take over the grounds before tendering for takeover bids after the last proposal – to turn it into an hotel and golf course – failed. Campaign group The Friends of Elvaston Castle is seeking to keep the building in public hands.


A spokesman said he hoped opening the Gothic Hall to the public would signal "the beginning of a great revival for the property. It is obviously excellent news that the council has now managed to overcome its previous problems regarding fire regulations and is reopening the Gothic Hall for public events. We believe further revenue could also be earned by opening up other areas in the castle and that the demand for these could surprise the council". From The Derby Telegraph.



Sunday, 15 April 2012

Entries invited for our tenth annual Architectural Awards

Entries are now invited for our 2012 Awards. The deadline for entries is Friday 17 August 2012.  


The awards, sponsored by international estate agents Savills, recognise exemplary conservation and restoration projects in the United Kingdom and reward those who have shown the vision and commitment to restore Georgian buildings and landscapes. Awards are also given for high-quality new buildings in Georgian contexts and new architecture in the Classical tradition.


See the 2011 Award winners
 
The 2012 judges include the architectural historians Dr John Martin Robinson (Chairman) and Professor David Watkin; Lady Nutting (Chairman of the Georgian Group); Charles Cator (Deputy Chairman of Christie's International); and Crispin Holborow (Director of Country Property at Savills).

Previous awards have been presented by:
The Rt. Rev. and Rt. Hon. Richard Chartres, Lord Bishop of London (2003)
His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent (2004)
Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra (2005)
His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent (2006)
The Rt. Hon. Lord Heseltine (2007)
The Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Dr. John Sentamu, Lord Archbishop of York (2008)
His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester (2009)
Baroness Andrews OBE, Chairman of English Heritage (2010)
Viscount Linley (2011)

Thursday, 22 March 2012

It's back to the drawing board as report puts nail in coffin of golf, hotel plan for Elvaston Castle

from The Derby Telegraph


NEARLY eight years after Derbyshire County Council thought it had solved its Elvaston Castle woes, the authority has to go back to the drawing board again. ​Derbyshire County Council has spent nearly £6 million maintaining Elvaston Castle since Highgate Sanctuary was first selected as its preferred bidder in 2004. The building and gardens now need £6.5 million of repairs.The authority has, for more than a decade, said it could not afford the upkeep of the rundown castle and gardens, which now cost £700,000 a year. In September 2004 it selected Highgate Sanctuary, with its plans for a hotel and adjoining golf course, as its preferred bidder to take over the building.

But criticism of the plans from English Heritage, and now from an expert report, have proved too difficult to overcome.Yesterday's decision that the council would "terminate" the firm's first-choice status has almost put the authority back to where it started in 2002 – tendering to businesses across Europe for someone to take over the castle.

Despite its need to save, the council has spent nearly £6 million on running the castle and its grounds since Highgate was first selected. The developer's director, Dr Tanya Spilsbury, has seen a silver lining in the ongoing saga, saying it will rebid when the council retenders for another takeover plan. She said the expert report had shown how Highgate could forge ahead with another application. But the dismay at the council is clear.

The expert document was commissioned by English Heritage and the county council and was drawn up by property management specialist Jones Lang LaSalle. It has stated that the castle has three potential use options – as a hotel, offices or as a residential development.

Councillor John Harrison, cabinet member for finance and management, said: "I'm disappointed. I thought that we (the Conservatives) would have made more progress with it since we took power in 2009." After years of the council suggesting dates when a planning application could be made or renovation started, he will no longer make a prediction. Mr Harrison said: "We are deeply conscious of how long this issue has been on the council's agenda and against that background we will move as swiftly as we possibly can without prejudicing the retendering or consultation process." The only date that is clear is that the retendering process will begin in July.

But there is at least a potential solution to who will take over the gardens. Little is known about what the National Trust would like to do with the castle's remarkable grounds if it were to take them over. But the authority has confirmed it expects an "initial response" to the idea "later this month". Mr Harrison said: "The trust has expressed an interest in involvement with the country park, historic gardens and peripheral buildings but not the castle itself. "As soon as we know their answer we will embark on preparing for the retendering process."

He said that one reason for not starting this until July was that legal work would be needed to ensure any successful proposal maintained public access to the country park. He said this was "a sacrosanct requirement and always had been". But a National Trust takeover would not happen without a fight. Campaign group The Friends of Elvaston Castle has been battling to keep the attraction in public hands. The Friends are furious at how long the future of the grade two* listed building has taken to resolve, especially as the castle and gardens now need repairs worth £6.5 million. The group fears that more delays will lead to further "deterioration" of the attraction. A group spokesman said the trust idea was not acceptable as it could mean visitors having to pay an entry fee which currently does not exist, bar a small car-parking charge.

He said: "We will never back any scheme in which the current level of public access is in any way restricted and so the news that Highgate Sanctuary is no longer the preferred bidder is welcome. If the National Trust only takes over the gardens and not the house, the public may well have to pay to enter them, thereby creating zones of exclusivity. They could have to be fenced off if that were the case."

The Friends want the castle and country park to return to being a tourist attraction, funded through Heritage Lottery grants, the Big Society Bank and the Esme Fairburn Foundation, which funds charities. But the expert report which doubted Highgate's plans does not list this kind of idea among its favoured solutions either. Its authors believe the "optimum" use would be for housing. Highgate's plans had already been criticised by English Heritage, which said access roads to the golf course and a proposed extension to the castle building could have damaged the attraction's historic setting.

But the report was the final nail in the coffin, agreeing with English Heritage that the proposals' "impact on the setting" was a problem. And it added that the golf course and country hotel market had both taken a hit since English Heritage commissioned an analysis of the scheme in 2006. The report then casts doubt on whether Highgate's plans as they stood could have succeeded, especially given the cost of restoration.

Mr Harrison said: "As a responsible authority, we can't just wash our hands of the castle. We have a duty to ensure that the person we hand the castle over to has a sustainable plan for the future." He said that yesterday's decision by the council's cabinet to end Highgate's preferred bidder status was made on the basis of the report.

Council chief executive Nick Hodgson said the report was "bound to" have an effect on the new bid which was eventually picked. But he said the authority would be "open to any ideas as long as they are sustainable and have a strong business plan". He said the re-tendering process would be "within a framework of seeking to achieve an economic advantage for the council". Whoever wins the bid will get a long lease for the castle from the council, as Highgate would have done.

Mr Hodgson added that any bidder would have to make a substantial contribution to the attraction's repairs bill. The report suggests that cash for this could be raised by developing some of the buildings in and on the periphery of the country park into housing.

Dr Spilsbury, from Highgate, said this would be one way her firm could raise the necessary cash if it built a hotel on a smaller scale than first planned. She said: "Our plans are still likely to include a hotel with leisure facilities but on a smaller scale after English Heritage withdrew its previous support for building to take place on the paddock.

"New jobs will be created if the hotel plans go ahead. The company will drop plans for a championship golf course as a result of concerns by English Heritage about the impact on the estate, even though it would have largely been built on land outside the estate boundary. We believe that the proposal which we intend to submit for retendering will maximise revenue for Derbyshire taxpayers and we are committed to the continuation of our involvement."