Threat to Richmond House, Westminster (GII*)

Threat to Richmond House, Westminster (GII*)

We encourage Georgian Group members to support the campaign to prevent the demolition of a large part of Richmond House, the Grade II* government offices in Westminster designed by Whitfield Associates between 1982-4.

The building responds in an intelligent way to its context, which on two sides is Georgian and later 19th century in date - indeed on its northern flank it incorporates the remaining fabric of Richmond Terrace (1822-24).  Its dramatic Neo-Tudor entrance to Whitehall, directly opposite Edwin Lutyens’s Cenotaph but deferentially recessed from the street frontage, is framed to the north by the eastern angle pavilion of Richmond terrace and to the south by the mid-18th century house at no. 85.  Richmond House itself is exemplary in its massing, in the quality and use of its materials, and in its detailing.  On its completion the architect and critic Roderick Gradige suggested that it marked ‘the beginning of a new architecture.’

In January of this year the House of Commons voted to relocate to Richmond House in 2025 for an estimated six years to allow for the planned restoration of the Place of Westminster, variously projected to cost between £3.5m and £5.7m; the House of Lords may relocate to the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre.  A 2016-17 report on the Restoration and Renewal of the Palace of Westminster issued by the House of Lords House of Commons Joint Committee suggested that ’If Richmond House were to be acquired a temporary Chamber could be established in its inner courtyard.’  It emerged earlier this month, however, that the works to accommodate the Commons, proposed by Alford Hall Monaghan Morris, would now see most of Sir William Whitfield’s and Andrew Lockwood’s building demolished.  The building of a third, permanent chamber is a dramatic departure from the joint committee’s proposal that a temporary chamber could be provided in the inner courtyard of Richmond House.  In the proposed scheme, only the grand palace-fronted façade provided by Richmond Terrace and the entrance façade on Whitehall (see photo) would survive.  It is ironic that a major building designed less than 40 years ago is in danger of becoming a victim of façadism.  Richmond Terrace, designed by Thomas Chawner (1774-1851), one of Sir John Soane’s pupils, and built by George and Henry Harrison, suffered this fate in the late 1970s.

A viable, lower-cost alternative has been proposed by Sir Michael Hopkins.  This would see a temporary Commons debating chamber inserted into the courtyard atrium of his award-winning building Portcullis House (1998-2001) on Bridge Street. 

Richmond House is listed Grade II* in recognition of the qualities outlined above.  Demolition flies in the face of the statutory system of protection afforded to outstanding buildings.

Richmond House was built at tax-payers’ expense.  Is the great cost of the proposed demolition and rebuilding justifiable?  A Treasury select committee has rightly scrutinised the cost of the restoration works to the Palace of Westminster, but are the costs of the proposed damaging works to Richmond House to undergo similar scrutiny?

The energy embedded in Richmond House during its construction - the sum of the energy expended in the extraction of raw materials, transport, manufacture, assembly and installation - is enormous and will be wasted if demolition proceeds.  Does doing so demonstrate national leadership in promoting environmental best-practice?

What impact might the introduction of the security measures necessary to convert Richmond House to parliamentary use have on the architectural dignity of Whitehall and the immediate setting of the Cenotaph?

Details of the campaign against the current proposals by SAVE Britain’s Heritage can be seen via the following link:

Sir William Whitfield’s work ranges from 1960s brutalism to neo-classicism.  In 2004 he was awarded a Georgian Group architectural award (Best New Building in the Classical Tradition) for the design of Tusmore House, Oxfordshire.  He has served too as a trustee of the Georgian Group.

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Applications Invited for  The Georgian Group/BSECS Dunscombe Colt Research Fellowship at the Bodleian Library

Applications Invited for The Georgian Group/BSECS Dunscombe Colt Research Fellowship at the Bodleian Library

The award, jointly funded by the Georgian Group and the British Society for Eighteenth Century Studies, is intended to facilitate a one-month research visit by a member of The Georgian Group to the Special Collections of the Bodleian Library in the University of Oxford. Applications will be considered from candidates seeking to research projects relating to the architecture or material culture (for example, sculpture) of the long eighteenth century (1660-1840). The award (£1,500) is part-funded from the proceeds of the bequest from Mrs Armida Dunscombe Colt and is named in her honour.

Eligibility for the award Members of The Georgian Group and BSECS in good standing at the time of application may apply. 

Non-EEA applicants are reminded that to take up fellowships they must hold an appropriate visa.


Fellowships must be taken up in the 2019 calendar year.

Recipients are expected to be in residence in Oxford for one month and are encouraged to take part in the activities of the University of Oxford.

How to apply

Applicants are asked to submit the following items by 31st January 2019:

An application form, with details of what to include, which may be found on the Bodleian Libraries Visiting Fellowships webpage:

Previous holders of the Fellowship:

2014 PETER LINDFIELD, School of Art History, University of St Andrews and Kunsthochschule, University of Kassel. Gothic Histories and Buildings of the Long Eighteenth Century 

2015 DAVID MCKINSTRY, Kellogg College, University of Oxford. Interpreting Urban Italy: English Responses to Post-Antique Architecture in the Early 19th Century

2016 CAROLINE STANFORD, Historian and Head of Engagement, The Landmark Trust, London. Before Coade: The Origins of Artificial Stone in the Long Eighteenth Century.

2018 JULIE PARK, Research Associate, Huntington Library, California. Extra-Illustrated Book Making and the Art of Writing in the Long Eighteenth Century.

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The Country House Business Innovation Show 2018

The Country House Business Innovation Show 2018

The Georgian Group is delighted to be partnering with The Country House Business Innovation Show 2018, which will return to the NEC Birmingham this November 7th & 8th for two days of inspiration, insight and innovation.

This is the most illustrious event for country house, estate, manor, and landowners to find new ways to diversify their property and increase their profits.

As part of the programme, our Caseworker Zachary Osborne will be delivering a lecture on ‘The Georgian Group and The Country House 1937-2018’ on the 8th of November at 2pm. You can also come and visit us at any time at stand 4071.

The Country House Business Innovation Show brings together the brightest minds in property and land diversification through 500 world-class exhibitors, 200 expert speakers, inspiring case studies and unrivalled networking and business opportunities.

Register for your free ticket via the website here:

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Our Aims and Purpose

The Georgian Group is the national charity dedicated to preserving Georgian buildings and gardens. We were founded in 1937.  

We aim to protect historic buildings through providing advice to owners and architects, campaigning, and through our role as statutory consultees in the planning system. Our annual awards promote excellence in design and conservation. In its casework, the Georgian Group advises councils, church bodies, and others on threats to the historic fabric and setting of structures built between 1700 and 1840.

The Group organises lectures and other events aimed at improving the understanding of aspects of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century built heritage.  We also produce technical advice leaflets, and promote the publication of academic research through our journal.