Our annual Architectural Awards, generously sponsored by Savills, took place at the RIBA on 14th November this year. The Awards, now in their nineteenth 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 numerous entries, with shortlisted projects encompassing a broad range of building types.
A list of the winning and highly commended entries in each category can be found below.
If the world felt threatening and unpredictable when we last gathered for these awards then a further twelve months have merely intensified the impression. Destruction, economic difficulty and human suffering, however, also highlight the importance of heritage. Against their backdrop we not only see heritage more clearly as an expression of history, identity and values but a source of meaning and delight. It’s these qualities —as well as the patience, love, knowledge and treasure required to restore our heritage and pass it on to future generations—that we are here to celebrate tonight.Dr John Goodall
Giles Worsley Award for a New Building in the Spirit of the Georgian Era
Winner: Aldourie Estate Biomass Building
Client: Wildland Ltd
Architect: Ptolemy Dean Architects
Over the last seven years, extensive improvements have been made to the buildings and landscape of the Aldourie Estate, which lies on the shores of Loch Ness. The most recent project has seen the addition of a Biomass Energy Building, which burns wood pellets from a local source and powers a district heating system across the estate. By replacing the earlier system an estimated 48 tonnes of Co2 will be saved per annum. Reflecting the Highlands vernacular, and making use of local rubble stone, corrugated iron, larch boards, and tree trunks cut from the surrounding woodland, Ptolemy Dean Architects have created for their client – Wildland Ltd. – a proto-Doric temple where others might have been content with a utilitarian shed. The new structure sits close to other working buildings including the restored home farm and sawmill and appears as a Picturesque building in the landscape.
Restoration of a Georgian Building in an Urban Context
Winner: Gainsborough’s House
Gainsborough’s House, in Sudbury, Suffolk, the childhood home and house museum of one of Britain’s most celebrated 18th-century artists, recently reopened to the public following a £10 million transformation. Supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and led by the architectural practice ZMMA, the project involved the restoration of the existing Georgian buildings and their galleries, together with the addition of a new three-storey extension in locally made brick and flint, housing a new entrance and four galleries.
Commended: Keppel’s Column
Client: Rotherham Borough Council
Architect: Soul Architects
Keppel’s Column, towering to a height of 35m, was erected on the Wentworth Woodhouse Estate in honour of Admiral Keppel. Designed by the architect John Carr of York and built between 1773 and 1780, it sits on a sandstone plinth and comprises two concentric brick shafts – the outer one clad in stone – connected by an internal spiral staircase. This leads to a viewing platform perched on the top. Owned by the Metropolitan Borough Council, this much-loved local landmark had been closed for more than 50 years. The brick shafts had dislocated from the stone steps, which were badly cracked. Internal access was hazardous, and in 1991 stainless-steel bands were added to prevent the column from collapse. Rather than dismantle and rebuild at enormous expense, 217 metal stair treads have been ingeniously installed over the original stone steps, tying the inner and outer shafts together. The viewing platform has been stabilised and the whole column repointed in lime. Restored and re-opened, Keppel’s Column has been removed from the at Risk Register and the view from it can be enjoyed by visitors once again.
Commended: Henry VIII Gatehouse, St Bartholomew’s Hospital
Client: Barts NHS Trust
Architect: Giles Quarme Architects
St Bartholomew’s Hospital, Smithfield, celebrates its 900th anniversary this year. The Henry VIII gatehouse to the precinct, built by the mason Edward Strong in 1702, was last conserved more than 30 years ago. Thanks to cementitious repairs, atmospheric pollution, vegetation and rusting iron cramps, however, its façades had deteriorated to such an extent that scaffolding had to be erected to protect patients and staff from falling masonry. Following extensive surveys, including remote sensing by George Ballard, a programme of repair was devised by Giles Quarme Architects, working with Alan Baxter Associates and Ingleton Wood. The tight budget was managed by Bart’s NHS Estates team and coordinated by Indigo Contracting Ltd. The Portland stone facades were gently cleaned, and corroded iron cramps were cut. Where necessary, new stone was inserted and affixed with stainless-steel fixings by Paye Stone Ltd. Francis Bird’s statue of Henry VIII, and the reclining figures of Lameness and Disease, were cleaned by Cliveden Conservation and the 1702 clock face and mechanism by Smith of Derby was completely restored.
New Structure within a Georgian Context
Winner: The Inner Portico, St Paul’s Cathedral
Client: St Paul’s Cathedral
Architect: Caroe Architecture and Connolly Wellingham Architects
St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of the defining landmarks of London and it strives to be a place everyone.
The Remember Me inner portico, a memorial to those who died from Covid-19, is a new addition to the north transept interior. It was created through design collaboration between Caroe Architecture and Connolly Wellingham Architects. The former assessing its highly sensitive setting, the latter instrumental in finding the nature and form of the new structure. It is an exquisitely crafted structure, executed by Robert McAlpine.
Re-use of a Georgian Building
Winner: Sheerness Dockyard Church
Client: Sheerness Dockyard Preservation Trust
Architect: Martin Ashley Architects and Hugh Broughton Architects
Standing at the entrance to the working port of Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey, Dockyard Church, listed Grade II*, was completed in 1828 to the designs of the Admiralty Surveyor, George Ledwell Taylor. Badly damaged by fire on two occasions, first in 1881 and again in 2001, it was added to HE’s ‘at risk’ list. In 2016, however, the church was acquired by Swale Borough Council and transferred to the Sheerness Dockyard Preservation Trust. The trust then set about developing a £9.5m plan for its rescue, repair, and reuse. A total of £4.7m was secured from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, with the demand for match funding. Work was completed in May 2023.
In a partnership between Martin Ashley Architects and Hugh Broughton Architects, the exterior of the building has been faithfully restored – including the clock tower which had to be dismantled and rebuilt – while the interior combines surviving original features with contemporary interventions. It now serves a civic purpose, and includes an exhibition area, café, events space and, importantly, a business incubator hub for local young people.
Restoration of a Georgian Garden or Landscape
Winner: Bromesberrow Place
Client: Dr The Honourable Gilbert Greenall CBE
Landscape Architect: Colvin and Moggridge
Bromesberrow Place was built in 1768 by the Yate family, its 100 acre park probably influenced by ‘Capability’ Brown’s work at the nearby Croome Court. In 1811 the house was bought by the economist David Ricardo who commissioned George Basevi to remodel the house in the Greek Revival style. During World War II the park was subdivided for dairy farming and potato production. When the present owner bought the estate in 1991 it had been in hibernation for nearly 75 years. Construction spoil from the M50 motorway had also been dumped here, ugly 1970s farm buildings erected, and 1,000 pigs added to farming regime.
In 1992 Mark Darwent at Colvin and Moggridge was commissioned to research the original form of the park and devise a restoration plan. Two phases of tree planting followed and the park was doubled in size to nearly 200 acres. In total 80,000 saplings were planted, among them 200 specimen trees. Thirty years on and the structure of the restored parkland can be appreciated once again. No chemicals or fertilisers have been used for 30 years and the park is home to a herd of White Park Cattle and a flock of 250 ewes.
Commended: Prior Park Landscape Garden
Client: The National Trust
Landscape Architect: Nicholas Pearson Associates
Key to Prior Park, the Grade 1 Registered Garden that lies in a steep sided valley below Ralph Allen’s house on the south side of Bath, is a cascade of three lakes crossed by a Palladian bridge.
The project was to repair and reinstate the middle and lower lake dams and to tackle the degradation of the banks – threatened by water from hidden springs and the burrowing of invasive American crayfish. Throughout, access to this steep landlocked site proved very challenging.
As part of this work, the middle dam has been rebuilt using traditional methods with earth and puddled clay. Plastic piles have been needed, however, to form an impenetrable barrier against the burrowing crayfish. The structural and civil engineering elements of the project were designed by Binnies, and the landscape reinstatement by Nicholas Pearson Associates, who identified plants that would have been available in the 18th century. The water in the lakes has been returned to its original levels so the cascade runs once more over the weir and under the bridge, animating the landscape with sound.
Restoration of a Georgian Interior
Winner: The Drawing Office, Sir John Soane Museum
Client: The Sir John Soane Museum
Architect: Julian Harrap Architects
Sir John Soane bequeathed his house and collections to the nation in 1837 on the proviso that they should be maintained exactly as he had left them. That’s not what happened and over the last thirty years a programme of research and restoration has incrementally returned Soane’s arrangements to the state he intended. The Upper Drawing Office at Sir John Soane’s Museum, installed in 1821 and rebuilt in 1824, is believed to be the last remaining drawing office of its type in the UK, perhaps the world. Running along the back of 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, and supported on iron columns, it accommodated six articled pupils, and Soane described it as being ‘peculiarly adapted for study’. Its drawing tables and the casts hung on the walls are illuminated by two long skylights.
During an extensive restoration project which addressed structural problems, and the leaking skylights, some 200 architectural casts were painstakingly cleaned and conserved. Forensic analysis ensured that they were reinstated as Soane had arranged them and against a recreated 1837 decorative scheme. The work is a particular testament to the long-standing relationship with the museum and its contents of Helen Dorey, Deputy Director and Inspectress, Jane Wilkinson, Head of Conservation and the Soane’s conservation architect Julian Harrap Architects. This extraordinary space opened to public tours in May of this year.
Commended: St Mary and St Everilda Chapel, Everingham
Architect: Soul Architects
The former Roman Catholic Chapel of St Mary the Virgin and St Everilda, built in 1836-9 by Agostino Giorgioli, sits in the park of Everingham Hall, Yorkshire. The relatively plain stuccoed exterior of this Grade I listed building belies its dramatic neoclassical interior with life-size statues of the Apostles by Luigi Bozzoni. Privately owned, the chapel is regularly opened to visitors and hosts musical events. A failing roof had allowed water to damage the interiors but with two rounds of grant funding from the Historic Houses Foundation and the Cultural Recovery Fund, made possible repairs including a new lead roof, parapet gutters and plasterwork conservation. A new colour scheme and renewed gilding better articulates the form of the ceiling.
Commended: The Hallelujah Project
Architect: Peregrine Bryant Architecture
Earlier this year, the Hallelujah Project saw the completion of major works to 25 Brook Street, the house in which George Frideric Handel lived between 1723 and his death in 1759. The works also enabled its reunion with the adjoining building, no. 23, in whose top floor flat Jimi Hendrix lived in the late 1960s. The buildings make up the house museum ‘Handel and Hendrix in London’, which celebrates the lives of these two extraordinary musicians, ‘separated by 200 years and a wall’.
A modern shop had previously meant that access to the upper floors was only possible from the rear of the building. Its removal has re-established the primary entrance on Brook Street, and the recreation of the entire Georgian façade with its railings. Ground floor windows now light Handel’s reimagined Fore Parlour, and the reopened light well illuminates Handel’s basement kitchen, which has been recreated with advice from Peter Brears. New floor boards, panelling, and fireplaces have been fitted and appropriate furnishings introduced with reference to the inventory taken on Handel’s death.
The Green Award
Winner: The Restoration of the Stroudwater Canal
Client: The Cotswolds Canals Trust
In 1779 the eight-mile-long Stroudwater Canal was opened, running from the River Severn to Stroud. Ten years later the Thames & Severn Canal extended it eastwards to the River Thames, so connecting two great trading rivers. At the height of its success, there were more than 200 canal-side mills in the Stroud valley. Profits funded private, civic and religious buildings in the town and its surrounding villages. Though they faced stiff competition when the railways arrived in the 1840s, the canals did not close until the 20th century: the Thames & Severn Canal in 1933, and the Stroudwater Canal in 1954. Left to silt up, they became rubbish dumps and were threatened with conversion into roads.
The Cotswolds Canals Trust began restoration work in the early 1970s. It now has a membership of more than 7,000, with an active volunteer force of more than 900. In restoring the historic canal and its 13 locks, the CCT has remained faithful to the design of its Georgian builders, but has also incorporated current technology. Dudbridge Lower Lock, for example, includes a hydro-electric scheme that feeds more than £100k worth of energy into the national grid. The restored towpath is used by more than 300,000 people each year, and following dredging, the clean water of the canal has enticed the return of rare animals and bankside flora.
The Trust has collaborated with more than 100 organisations and benefitted from National Lottery Heritage Fund and Stroud District Council grants.
Restoration of a Georgian Country House
Winner: Stowe House
Client: The Stowe House Preservation Trust
Architect: Purcell Architects
Stowe House, Buckinghamshire was developed by the Temple-Grenville family as one of England’s greatest and largest Georgian country houses with gardens and a designed landscape to match. Sold in 1922, the house became Stowe School. Subsequently, the gardens were taken over and restored by the National Trust.
Over twenty years ago, in 1999, The Stowe House Preservation Trust, the current owner of the building, was awarded a major National Heritage Lottery Fund grant and appointed Purcell as Architects to repair the North Front and improve the approach to the house. Since then, the Trust, energetically led by its Chairman Andrew Fane and the recently-retired CEO Nick Morris, supported by the curator Anna McEvoy and the Interiors’ Working Group, has undertaken a sequence of exemplary internal and external restoration projects including those to the South Front, North Hall, the Blue Room, State Library, Marble Saloon, State Drawing Room and, most recently, the State Dining Room with hard-wearing, fictive tapestry wall covering by Zardi and Zardi.The sheer cumulative scale of these works, the underlying pragmatism that allows the building to continue to function as a school, and the quality of what has been achieved, has established new restoration standards. The judges were unanimous in awarding it the award for the restoration of a Georgian Country House.
The Diaphoros Prize
Winner: The Inner Hall at Windsor Castle
Client: Her Late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II
Architect: Purcell Architects
The Inner Hall at Windsor Castle was created by James Wyatt as part of his remodelling of Windsor Castle for King George III between 1800-1814. This imposing Gothic interior incorporates virtuouso plasterwork by Francis Bernasconi. It originally served as an entrance hall to the State Apartments and led to an imposing Gothic staircase. The hall was partitioned up during Queen Victoria’s reign. Its recent restoration has allowed this magnificent interior to be fully opened to the public as a welcoming area for visitors to the Castle. As part of The Future Programme project, the restoration of the Inner Hall was carried out 2018-19 by Purcell Architects and funded by the Royal Collection Trust as part of an ambitious representation of the State Apartments.
Winner: The Union Chain Bridge
Client: Northumberland County Council
Architect: Spencer Bridge Engineering
The Union Chain Bridge was designed by the Royal Navy officer Captain Samuel Brown. When built in 1820 it was the longest wrought iron suspension bridge in the world, a title it held for just four years. It heralded in a new era in bridge building which saw ever longer spans crossed at a fraction of the cost of masonry bridges. Having linked Scotland and England across the River Tweed for more than 200 years, it faced an uncertain future when in 2013 it was placed on the ‘heritage at risk’ registers of both Historic England and Historic Environment Scotland, sparking community concerns that this important heritage and local transport asset might be lost.
In response to these concerns and the campaigning of community volunteers who established the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge, a unique cross-sectoral partnership was formed involving Northumberland County Council, Scottish Borders Council, Museums Northumberland, and the Friends. Through this partnership an ambitious project was devised by Spencer Bridge Engineering to repair and conserve the bridge to safeguard its use for future generations. The bridge was reopened in April and has been designated a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers.