Our annual Architectural Awards, generously sponsored by Savills, took place at the RIBA on 5 October this year. The Awards, now in their seventeenth year, recognise exemplary conservation and restoration projects in the UK and reward those who have shown the vision and commitment to restore Georgian buildings and landscapes. The awards ceremony was presented by Dr John Goodall, chair of the judging panel and Architectural Editor at Country Life, with certificates handed out by the Georgian Group’s President, the Duchess of Argyll.
The winning schemes were chosen from over thirty entries, with shortlisted projects encompassing a broad range of building types. John Goodall says: “After all the difficulties of the last 18 months these awards are particularly inspiring. They are also testimony to the perennial importance, interest and quality of our Georgian heritage.”
A list of the winning and highly commended entries in each category can be found below.
Photo: Radbourne Hall, Derbyshire (© The Georgian Group)
After all the difficulties of the last 18 months these awards are particularly inspiring. They are also testimony to the perennial importance, interest and quality of our Georgian heritage.Dr John Goodall
Re-use of a Georgian Building
Winner: Cobham Dairy, Kent
Client: The Landmark Trust
The Dairy on the Cobham estate, Kent, was designed by James Wyatt in 1794 for the 4th Earl and Countess of Darnley. It served both as an ornamental eye-catcher in Humphry Repton’s parkland and as a working building, complete with accommodation for the dairymaid. Abandoned for more than a century, it was rescued from collapse in the 1980s by the SPAB. The Landmark Trust has since taken a 99-year lease of the dairy and restored it as a self-catering holiday cottage for two. Work has included the restoration of the external slate cladding and the re-instatement of the vaulted ceilings.
Highly Commended: The Old Church, Lowick, Northumberland
Client: Dean Keyworth, Armstrong Keyworth Interior Design
Architect: Paul Hales, Robert J. Hales Ltd
One of only two Church of Scotland churches built in England, the building was deconsecrated more than twenty years ago and has lain empty for much of the time since. The present owners have converted it sympathetically, making ingenious use of the spaces below and above the Victorian gallery, and adding rooms in the roof space, so preserving the volume of the double-height interior - a space too often subdivided in church and chapel conversions - which successfully serves as the principal reception room. This approach has left an uninterrupted view of the stained glass windows, which were restored as part of the project.
Restoration of a Georgian Garden or Landscape
Winner: Gunton Park, Norfolk
Client: Ivor Braka, Kit and Sally Martin, Lady Suffield
Landscape Architects: John Phibbs, Debois Landscape Survey Group (Phase 1); Patrick James, The Landscape Agency (Phase 2)
The 1,200 acre park and garden that surrounds Gunton Hall - itself designed in the 1740s by Matthew Brettingham and later altered by Samuel Wyatt - evolved under the ownership of several generations of the Harbord family and with the involvement of successive landscape architects: Charles Bridgeman, Humphry Repton and William Sawrey Gilpin. By the 1970s, following decades of decline, much of the estate had been sold and ploughed-up for arable cultivation, while hundreds of mature parkland trees and those in its woodland belts had been felled. The restoration of the park has taken nearly thirty years and has seen acres of new woodland planted, avenues, carriageways, clumps and individual parkland trees re-instated, and the establishment of a herd of deer.
Restoration of a Georgian Building in an Urban Setting
Winner: Buxton Crescent Hotel and Thermal Spa, Buxton Crescent, Derbyshire
Client: Buxton Crescent Ltd.
Architect: Curious Architecture and Interior Design
The Crescent, designed by John Carr of York for the 5th Duke of Devonshire and built between 1780 and 1789, was with the adjoining Natural Baths and Pump Room, the centrepiece of the planned Georgian spa town. Since the 1990s it has lain empty and in an increasing state of disrepair. This major project initiated by the Borough and County Councils, and supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England, set out to return all three buildings to use and to help in the economic regeneration of Buxton as a spa. This heroic and transformative project has taken more than two decades to come to realisation and combines conservation and new work.
Highly Commended: Private townhouse in Kennington
Client: Fabian Richter
Architect: Robert Birbeck
Master Builder: Stephen Bull
This project has seen the painstaking, comprehensive conservation, over a seven year period, of a run-down terraced townhouse of 1792. The works have involved, re-roofing and repointing, the replacement of gypsum plasterboard with lime plasters on lath, the repair of Georgian joinery and the restoration of the servant's bell system, as well as full re-servicing. Externally, York slabs have replaced cement steps and new iron railings have been installed. The work has been underpinned by thorough historical research and reflects a conservation ethos that is more commonly the preserve of large public or charitable bodies that private houses.
Highly Commended: Frogmore House, Watford
Client: St William Homes LLP, Berkeley Group
Architects: Giles Quarme Architects
A merchant's house built in 1716 to the south of Watford high street, the building had been on Historic England’s Buildings At Risk Register for some years. Divided into flats in the 1950s, it fell into gradual dereliction from the 1970s and suffered extensive vandalism. As part of the redevelopment of the wider site the building has been restored and structural failure, water ingress and dry rot have all been tackled. Historic joinery - windows, doors, staircase balusters and panelling - has been repaired or where necessary re-instated, and the doorcase, stolen in 2009, recovered and put back. The building is now in use as an office.
Restoration of a Georgian Structure or Interior
Winner: The Bath Stone Bridge, Halswell Park, Somerset
Client: Edward Strachan
The Bath Stone Bridge is thought to have been designed by Thomas Wright and was a key element of the water gardens known as Mill Wood, laid out by Sir Charles Kemeys Tynte in the second half of the eighteenth century, as part of the Halswell Hall landscape. Since 2014 the owner has begun the on-going task of reconstituting and restoring the park. The current project has involved the full restoration of the bridge, which has been on the local authority’s ‘at risk’ list since 2005, and the repair of the associated dam and leaking pond. Many missing parts of the structure were fished out of the water, where they had fallen, but some lost elements had to be recut, as in the case of a missing herm. The new ornamental carving playfully includes some twentieth-first-century details in evidence of its date.
Highly Commended: The State Drawing Room, Stowe, Buckinghamshire
Client: Stowe House Preservation Trust
The State Drawing Room at Stowe was created in 1778, and balances the State Music Room to the other side of the central Marble Saloon. Both interiors were designed by Vincenzo Valdrè. Following rigorous research, the decision was taken to return the room to its decorative appearance in c.1800. New orange hangings, based on a guidebook description, were commissioned in a durable fabric, while paint research revealed that the ceiling had been painted in three shades of pink with both gold and silver gilding to its plaster enrichments. This striking scheme has been reinstated following cleaning and repair. In addition, a painted, timber copy of the marble Piranesian chimneypiece sold from the room in the 1920s has been made from a scan of the original and a new oak floor was laid to the pattern of the historic boards.
Restoration of a Georgian Country House
Winner: Radbourne Hall, Derbyshire
Client: Trustees of the Radbourne Settlement
Architect: Peregrine Bryant Architects
Radbourne Hall was designed in 1739 by William Smith of Warwick for German Pole. From 2017 to 2020 the house has been subject to far-reaching repair and conservation work. This has included slate and lead repairs to the roof, which have now also been fitted with firebreaks and breathable wood fibre insulation. Internally, damage done by a 1950s structural steel has also been remedied and out-dated electrical and mechanical services have been replaced, while the enfilade on the piano nobile has been re-instated and a John Fowler decorative scheme of the 1950s retained and conserved. A striking new set of cantilevered steps, structurally independent from the house, have been constructed to the rear.
Highly Commended: Sheringham Hall, Norfolk
Client: Paul Doyle and Gergely Battha-Pajor
Architect: John Simpson Architects
Sheringham Hall was designed for Abbot and Charlotte Upcher by Humphry Repton and his son John Adey Repton between 1813 and 1819. Having bought a 99-year lease of the house and garden from the National Trust, Paul Doyle and Gergely Pattha-Pajor have undertaken various works to restore the building’s intended plan and room functions thereby sympathetically and brilliantly recreating the Regency elegance of the interiors. The original dining room has been re-instated, while appropriate neo-classical statuary once more fills the staircase niches. Associated works in the garden include the restoration of glass houses and the erection of an openwork pavilion designed by John Simpson.
Restoration of a Georgian Church or Chapel
Winner: All Saints Church, Newcastle
Client: All Saints Presbyterian Church
Architect: Doonan Architects
All Saints Church was completed in 1796 to the design of David Stephenson, the first Newcastle architect to study in London; it is unique in being the only church in England with an elliptical nave. Although one of the finest buildings in the city, it has long been on the Georgian Group's casework radar due to its poor condition and it has been listed on Historic England’s Heritage-at-Risk register since 2011. Under new guardianship, a project of restoration began in 2019 which saw repairs to the roof, gutters, windows and walls. Internally, redecoration has been undertaken in an appropriate Georgian palette. A new marble pavement, allowing for an efficient under-floor heating system, has been laid, unifying the concrete floors in the entrance hall and ‘school gym’ floor in the nave. Additional facilities, including a kitchen, WCs and an office, have been sensitively incorporated within the space. The church has now been removed from the At Risk Register.
Highly Commended: St Alfege Church, Greenwich
Client: St Alfege Church PCC
Architect: Richard Griffiths Architects
St Alfege Church, designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, was built between 1712 and 1714, with the upper part of the steeple added by John James in 1730. This project, which built upon previous restoration work, was designed to extend to the south and north elevations, repair the leaking roof and make the church fully accessible and welcoming to a wider public. A long wooden ramp has been installed at the north entrance, historic paving has been repaired and an ironwork arch designed by Albert Richardson has been rediscovered and re-instated over the high-street entrance to the churchyard. Internally changes include additional WCs in the wells of the staircases, while water ingress issues have been resolved allowing for the full internal redecoration of the church. In addition, the crypt has been opened to hard hat tours.
Giles Worsley Award for New Work in the Spirit of the Georgian Era
Winner: Nithurst Farm, West Sussex
Client: Adam and Jessica Richards
Architect: Adam Richards Architects
Built in open fields, on the site of a farmworker’s cottage in the South Downs National Park, Nithurst Farm is conceived as a Roman ruin wrapped around a modern concrete house. The building rises in steps from a single-storey entrance on the north side to a three-storey tower at the south, inspired by Vanbrugh's belvedere at Claremont. The house is symmetrical in plan, tapering out along its axis to the large light-filled south-facing sitting room, and its main ground floor space is inspired by the sala found in those of Palladio’s villa designs, such the Villa Barbaro, which incorporate box-like secondary rooms against the exterior walls.
New Building in a Georgian Context
Winner: Wolverton Hall Folly, Worcestershire
Client: Nicholas Coleridge CBE
Architect: Quinlan Terry Architects
The inspiration for the design of Wolverton Hall Folly was taken from the Picturesque tradition with its many variations of follies in a controlled landscape. Among a number of possible small garden buildings, the Banqueting House at Long Melford, built in 1550 with sash windows added in the 1730s, became a source of inspiration. The design was prepared with the proportions adapted considerably to provide a large study on the first floor with the addition of ogee arches to the stone window surrounds terminating in stone acanthus leaf finials and a central cupola to assist the requirement for a staircase and chimney. The result is a building that can express in classical terms the different moods of time and place with an underlying seriousness and humour.
Highly Commended: The University Arms Hotel, Cambridge
Client: CUA Property Ltd
Architect: John Simpson Architects
The University Arms Hotel, Cambridge, was established in the 1820s and is the oldest hotel in the city. The present building, however, was substantially constructed in 1903 and extended in the 1920s. Its 1833 west entrance facing onto Regent Street was demolished in 1965 to make way for a Modernist block by Feilden and Mawson. John Simpson Architects were commissioned to transform the hotel, adding 60 rooms to it, a terrace overlooking Parker’s Piece, and a new entrance façade. The latter comprises a Doric porte cochère of Ketton stone, wittily referencing Ledoux’s Parisian Barrières of the 1770s as heralds of the city beyond. Meanwhile, the western section of the south front was remodelled by adding a three-storeyed bow, and to the east a four-bay verandah on the first floor.
Winner: The Con Club, Framlingham, Suffolk
Client: Paperhouse Properties Ltd
Architect: Hoare Ridge and Morris Architects
Built c.1810, Church House, as it was originally known, was a prominent townhouse owned by the Edwards family of bankers and doctors. In 1910 it became the Framlingham Constitutional Club and later renamed the Framlingham Conservative Club. The club closed at the end of 2018; threatened with being carved up as flats, it was purchased by the architects Mark Hoare and Ted Ridge the following year with the hope of turning it into a public space. The new vision includes a café, gallery space, studios, youth club and meeting rooms for public hire, with the creation of separate offices for Framlingham Town Council in a semi-independent part of the building. Re-activating the street frontage was key and the café can now be accessed by the Georgian front door which had previously been blocked.
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