Tuesday, 30 October 2012


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.

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