We are pleased to announce the following winners and commended entries of our 2016 Architectural Awards:
Restoration of a Country House
Winner- Combermere Abbey
A major 18-month restoration project costing £2 million to restore the historic North Wing of the Abbey has been completed.
Uninhabited since the early 1950s, beneath the North Wing’s gothic exterior cladding, the building had become structurally unstable, seriously endangering the rest of Combermere Abbey - one of only a few privately owned Grade I listed buildings.
It has taken nearly twenty years to raise the funds needed, via an enabling Development Scheme, to restore it to its former glory. With planning permission granted, the huge undertaking, which involved many different skilled craftsmen and specialist restoration companies, could begin.
Work involves stripping the 900-year-old building back to the original medieval and Tudor frame, removing the gothic cladding and existing roof structure, and completely repairing or replacing the decayed areas - as well as rebuilding the roof and chimneys - and putting back the gothic exterior.
This dedicated website will share the stories around the project, and the fantastic history of the building, highlight long-hidden features revealed along the way, and profile some of the trades and people involved - including its owner, Sarah Callander Beckett and her husband Peter, the driving forces behind the project since inheriting the building in 1992.
Commended: Burrow Hall
Burrow Hall is a large 18th-century country house in Burrow-with-Burrow, Lancashire.
The house has a number of impressive ornate plaster ceilings, attributed to Italians Francesco Vassalli and Martino Quadry.
Until recently parts of the house had been stripped bare of any valuable assets by previous owners and the overall fabric was in poor condition. The current owners undertook a complete renovation and redesign from to top to bottom to get it back to its former glory which included the replacement of an inappropriate glass link.
Restoration in the Public Realm
Winner-Sheffield non-Conformist Chapel
The Sheffield General Cemetery opened for business in 1836, making it a rare survivor amongst the few early commercial cemeteries in England. More well known examples are Kensal Green in London and Arnos Vale in Bristol. It is a comparatively small cemetery, only five acres originally and is an extraordinary feet of landscape and building engineering, completed in just two years between 1834-1836.
Built in a former quarry on a north facing, shaded slope, it is located at the side of the Porter Brook, a power source for early industry but harnessed here as a powerful symbolic element in Samuel Worth’s extraordinary “visionary,” citadel for the dead. A ramped access road, originally rising out of the flood plain is today the urban street known as Cemetery Avenue. It passes through the triumphal arch of the entrance lodge, the accommodation to which seemingly windowless to the exterior, mausoleum like and bridging the river as if it were perhaps the Styx.
The drive continues, up a series of five dramatic landscape terraces, ramparted along the river, and standing high above the flood plain, interconnected by a snaking driveway supported on ranges of catacombs. At the centre of the composition stands Worth’s monumental Egypto-Greek, Doric Chapel, constructed of huge Derbyshire Gritstone elements and descending as far into the ground as it stands above, at its lowest level concealing a hidden “master” vault, on the old quarry floor, around 8 meters below the chapel pavement.
John Claudius Loudon was so impressed when he visited in 1839 that he illustrated a very similar “ideal plan” to Worth’s scheme in his, “On the laying out and planting of Cemeteries”, published in 1843.
The cemetery is no longer open for business but instead is a city park. The later AnglicanCemetery, (1848), set out by Robert Marnock, who had helped Worth with the earlier phase
planting, retains few memorials, having been substantially cleared but the Nonconformist Cemetery is largely complete if despoiled.
By the late 20th Century the entire cemetery was derelict. In the late 1980’s the Friends of the General Cemetery, set about clearing and maintaining the landscape and restoring Worth’s unique bridging lodge as offices.
Today the Sheffield General Cemetery Trust (SGCT) have taken over from the Friends. In 2012, limited for dry public events space, they decided to consider taking on the Nonconformist chapel if funding could be found. Supported by South Yorkshire Buildings Preservation Trust, SYBPT, and funded by Architectural Heritage Fund mentoring and development grants, SGCT worked with officers, Andrew Whitham and Catie Evans, to identify a scheme of re-use for Worth’s Chapel, last in use during the 1950s.
The chapel is of national importance and had been on the English Heritage “At Risk” register since 1998. Collaboration with the Sheffield City Council Parks department, owners of the surrounding landscape, was essential in order to identify a viable, low intervention scheme of adaptation for public and private event use.
The preferred scheme was designed to be delivered in “safe” separate phases, mitigating the Cemetery Trust’s exposure to risk. “Services”, “Fabric repairs” and “Fit out” have now been completed within a modest budget of around £320K and in line with pre contract projections.
The scheme sort to compromise the volume of the chapel as little as possible, whilst accepting that facilities, toilets and a small kitchen, are essential components of future viability
Commended: Bentley Priory
Giles Quarme & Associates were the historic consultants on Phase I of the new Battle of Britain Museum at Bentley Priory in London, and were selected to be the architects for Phase II. The building, originally designed by Sir John Soane, was later home to Queen Adelaide and during the 1940s was the site at which the Battle of Britain was coordinated. After closure as an RAF base, the site is now becoming housing and a museum. Part of the project involved reinstating period interiors designed by Soane, lost in two serious fires.
Restoration of a Structure in the Landscape
Winner-Wimpole Gothic Tower
The Gothic Tower, designed to look like a picturesque medieval ruin, is based on a sketch by the architect Sanderson Miller in 1749 for his patron, Lord Hardwicke, the owner of Wimpole.
The design was later realised in an amended form under the supervision of the great landscape designer Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown from 1768-72.
In the following centuries, the ruin suffered extensive and gradual damage with many important characteristics being completely eroded while public access to the Tower and landscape was near enough impossible.
Located in the magnificent parkland of Wimpole Estate, the Gothic Tower presented a complex conservation challenge for the National Trust. The work called for repair of the structure, stabilization of the stonework and reinstatement of missing components of the building, while preserving the weathered beauty and original ‘ruined’ appearance.
Wendy Monkhouse, National Trust Curator in the East of England, said: “We’re delighted to have been recognized by the European Commission and Europa Nostra for the work we’ve done on the Gothic Tower – it’s the most prestigious heritage award in Europe, and it means a lot to the National Trust and to the staff and volunteers at Wimpole.
“Many people know and love the magnificent mansion and the 18th century farm, but the Tower was an almost forgotten ruin – a kind of sleeping beauty, literally surrounded by briar roses and nettles. Now, with its reinstated crenellations triumphant on the main Tower, it sits once more at the focal point of the landscape designed by Capability Brown, whose tercentenary we are celebrating this year.”
Commended: Shotover Gothic Temple and Plumpton Rocks
Shotover Gothic Temple
The Gothic eyecatcher temple is the focal point of the lake. n December 2008 Matthew Hollingsworth and Hilary Taylor Landscape Associates were appointed to jointly prepare a Conservation Management Plan for the Shotover Park Estate. The purpose of the Plan is to provide an overview of the Estate, it’s historical importance and the condition of the parkland and buildings. Since then Spirit Architecture have repaired the Model Farm buildings and Gothic eyecatcher temple with the aid of grants from Natural England. The Gothic temple’s Gothic Temple within the grade I Shotover Park. The temple lies at the eastern end of the main axis of the early C18 layout of the formal garden. Front elevation repaired 10 years ago and a Conservation Management Plan has been completed. Roof, rainwater goods and rear of structure have been repaired. Funding has been secured from Natural England. The internal plasterwork and supporting structure was the subject of a conservation project in the summer of 2015. On completion of the repairs the Temple will be considered for removal from at risk status.
Plumpton Rocks in North Yorkshire is a Grade 2* landscape garden which was created in the 1750-60s
This unusual landscape was recently restored following significant funding from Natural England, Historic England and The Country Houses Foundation.
Works included have reinstating the 18th century parkland covering 30 acres which had been ploughed up in the 1980s, desilting the lake to take it back to its original 18th century size and opened up the 18th century vistas which had been lost. These had been painted by Turner and were his first commission in Oils in 1797. John Carr's magnificent dam has also been restored.
New Building in the Classical Tradition
Winner-A Chapel in South East England
The Chapel is in the style of a classical temple and replaces a 1960s building.
It was built by a predominately British team of traditionally skilled craftsmen including stonemasons, joiners, metalworkers, mosaicists and plasterers.
The chapel bears a temple front as its motif with a small portico which people can gather under and a vestibule which leads down to an underground crypt. The outer building is constructed in flint and stone with a lead roof and sits atop the ha-ha, the walls of which are also of flint. There are no aisles inside the chapel.
The interior is Mannerist in style, with a central, seated figure of Christ by Professor Alexander Stoddart, who is the Queen's Sculptor in Ordinary for Scotland. Stoddart will create additional pieces for the building over the coming years.
Commended: Queen Mother Square, Poundbury and Cooling Castle, Kent
The Brown Tercentenary Award
Compton Verney is an independent art gallery in Warwickshire, with 120 acres of Capability Brown landscaped parkland surrounding an 18th century mansion re-modelled by Robert Adam.
Brown’s impact on the landscape at Compton Verney cannot be underestimated as he replaced the earlier formal gardens with grassland and trees, including cedars and over 2,200 oak and ash saplings placed to create Arcadian viewpoints. He added a new south drive, which framed and revealed the house from the bridge, creating a serpentine route to replace the formal avenue, turned mill pools into a single picturesque lake and demolished the old church between the house and the lake, a view visitors still enjoy today. The church was replaced it with a new, plain, Palladian-style chapel North of the house, which was built in 1776-9.
Brown’s work at Compton Verney was commissioned by the 14 the Baron Willoughby de Broke in the 1760s. The Grade I listed chapel is one of only a handful of chapels in the country whose design has been attributed to Capability Brown. Compton Verney is currently in the process of restoring it to its former glory. The project aims to preserve, restore and celebrate an outstanding ‘Capability’ Brown park, which includes a rare, Brown-designed and Grade I-listed Chapel.The project seeks to restore this outstanding landscape and enliven it with eyecatchers and activities which highlight the site’s history of innovative thinking, art, architectural change and ecological diversity.
Phase I of the restoration work has been undertaken, with repairs to the roof and ceiling, removal of the bell tower for full restoration, unboarding and safeguarding of the windows, restoring the burial monuments and partially reinstating pews and the pulpit. The chapel was re-opened to the public in March 2012 after being closed for twenty three years. Following the completion of this work, visitors now experience the wonderful interior and see the monuments dedicated to members of the Verney family, including monuments moved from the earlier chapel which Brown demolished. The most splendid is the free-standing tomb dedicated to Richard and Margaret Verney (who died in 1630s), created by Nicholas Stone. The chapel has excellent acoustics and is used throughout the year for small scale concerts and by the local parish for services. It has also been the venue for a number of blessings for those who have been married by civil ceremony.
After a restoration project that lasted over two years, the Compton Verney Ice House is once again adding to its already impressive 240 years of history. Built as a practical yet pretty addition to the grounds in c1771, the building is the key architectural feature in an area known as the Ice House Coppice, which originally functioned as it does now; to screen the mansion for visitors arriving from the southern entrance and approach drive.
Commended: Trentham and Belvoir
As a continuance of restoration of the estate’s important historical landscape, we are revitalising Brown’s influence at Trentham in time for the 300 year celebration. We have restored the connection between the upper west side of the lake and the 18th century parkland, opening up vistas to the park.
This restored views to Kings Wood, reveal Brown’s original landscape and expose in all their splendour, the historic Red Woods, and a number of Brownian age trees in the area between the amphitheatre and park.
Work commenced in late October 2013 with encouragement and financial support from FERA and the Forestry Commission to remove all the invasive Rhododendron ponticum as it carried the disease Phytophera ramorum. Larch trees, also carriers of the disease were also removed at the same time with this phase of the
The project has been undertaken with enthusiastic support from English Heritage, Stafford Borough Council and following a nature survey conducted by Staffordshire Ecological Services.Work commenced in late October 2013 with encouragement and financial support from FERA and the Forestry Commission to remove all the invasive Rhododendron ponticum as it carried the disease Phytophera ramorum.
The project has been undertaken with enthusiastic support from English Heritage, Stafford Borough Council.
The project ties in beautifully with the Capability Brown 300 festivities which will celebrate the 300th birthday of the iconic man responsible for naturalising England’s designed landscapes.
Amazingly, in 2015, after 235 years, Capability Brown plans for the garden at Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire—the home of the Dukes of Rutland for over 1,000 years—were discovered hidden in the castle archives. The plans were drawn up by Brown himself for the 4th Duke of Rutland in 1780. Brown died in 1783 before the project could be fully realized, but a smaller scheme based on the design was later implemented. While it was always purported the plans were a Brown design, nothing could be confirmed until now. Determined to leave her own mark on Belvoir Castle, Her Grace, the 11th Duchess of Rutland has set out to finish Brown’s vision for Belvoir Castle. The Duchess said “We’ve been left this amazing plan, and I feel a huge responsibility to leave something behind so one day people can say, ‘She set out to finish what was started.’”
Restoration of a Georgian Interior
Work undertaken at Crichel House took place in three rooms on the ground floor, all designed by the architect James Wyatt. The design decisions were based on historic research and confirmed by reference to pictures taken in the house for Country Life in 1925.
The works on site started in October 2014 and were completed by the end of May 2015. The dining room walls and ceiling were redecorated with 18th century colours and a mirror covering an old entrance to the demolished Victorian wing was replaced with the original mahogany door.
In the East Hall the 1960's ceiling plasterwork was removed and the original dome uncovered, and the missing plaster decoration, ceiling moldings, cornice frieze and wall panels were replaced. Four wall paintings were also uncovered and painstakingly restored. The most amount of structural work took place in the Drawing Room to allow for the reinstatement of the Venetian window.
This involved new scagliola columns and pilasters being installed. Cornices, friezes and relief panels were also replaced, and silk damask wall coverings were copied from the early 20th century design and rehung.
Commended: Royal Hospital Chelsea
The Royal Warrant of 1681 instructed the building of Royal Hospital to house the King’s pensioners. Christopher Wren, as Surveyor-General of Works under Charles II, was appointed to undertake the commission. The sleeping accommodation comprised of windowless and a semi open-plan six foot square back-to-back cubicles against a spine wall. On either side a generous social corridor with windows brought borrowed light and air to the pensioners’ berths. These were adapted in the 20th century to nine foot square partitioned berths. By the beginning of the 21st century these windowless internal spaces were becoming unsustainable as applications to become pensioners were tailing off.
The architects proposed the sacrifice of one of the social corridors and developed a strategy of a single-sided windowed en suite rooms with the reinstatement of Wren’s original partitions acting as entrance studies and the recreation of Wren’s original wide corridor. The conservation gain was that by reducing the depth of the berths to their original dimension of 6 foot, the width of the retained corridor could be restored to Wren’s original proportions.
This concept is simple and clear, the reinstatement has been skilfully brought back to life in a balance between civilised accommodation in a phased delivery below budget and programme. Wren’s magnificent corridor vista is brought back to life and the berths create a study threshold within Wren’s vision, with a private en-suite chamber beyond the spine wall.
Through the whole process of working up these proposals in principle and subsequently in detail, the architects were in constant discussion with RBKC and English Heritage who understood fully the need to balance continued use of the buildings by retired soldiers with protecting and conserving as much of the historic fabric as possible.
The pensioners are delighted by their new homes and the ability to use the social corridors again without the compromise of their privacy. The project has paved the way for the continued sustainable use of a very special building.
Commended: Trinity College Chapel, Oxford
Trinity’s chapel has undergone an extensive year-long programme of renovation. The Chapel reopened on 23 April with a service of rededication, after being closed for just over a year.
The priceless Grinling Gibbon’s carvings, exquisite plasterwork and magnificent ceiling paintings have all been cleaned, repaired, and in the case of the carvings, the nineteenth-century black staining removed. A Victorian window has been returned to its original position above the entrance and the organ has been refurbished. A new lighting system shows the work off to very best effect and a full redecoration has returned the chapel to its original splendour.
Such extensive work on a Grade I listed building required specialist craftsmen and material. Work on the organ is still underway and the final cost is likely to be in the region of £1 million. The Governing Body sees this project as one of such significance that it agreed to underwrite the cost with money from the endowment, but the intention continues to be to fund as much of the work as possible through donations.
27 Northgate Oakham
27 Northgate is one of a pair of Grade II listed early nineteenth-century houses. It was restored by the owner, a retired conservation officer, who did the work himself. This involved removing inappropriate later interventions, reinstating lost elements, even down to finding original door furniture, and ensuring that modern bathrooms etc were installed in a sympathetic manner. The result is that a house that at first glance appeared unremarkable has been transformed into an elegant and charming building, an exemplar in Georgian ‘DIY’.
- Restoration of a Georgian Country House; Shanks House, Somerset
- Restoration of a Georgian Interior; Joint Winners: Soane Tribune at Wotton House and Private Apartments, Sir John Soane's Museum
- Restoration of a Georgian Building in an Urban Setting;Belmont House, Lyme Regis
- Reuse of a Georgian Building; 13 Ely Place, London
- Restoration of a Georgian Garden or Landscape; the Park at Croome Court, Worcestershire
- New Building in the Classical Tradition; Bighton Grange, near Winchester
- New Building in a Georgian Context; Joint Winners: 47 Canonbury Square, Islington and 4A-6 Grove Lane, Southwark
- Outstanding Achievment; Sheerness Royal Dockyard, Kent
- Diaphoros Award; Kilboy, Co Tipperary
- Restoration of a Georgian Country House; Joint Winners: St Giles House, Dorset and Hendre House, Llanrwst, Conwy
- Restoration of a Georgian Interior; Kenwood House, London
- Restoration of a Georgian Building in an Urban Setting; Llanelly House, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire
- Reuse of a Georgian Building; St George’s Chapel, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
- Restoration of a Georgian Garden or Landscape; Painshill Landscape Garden, Surrey
- New Building in the Classical Tradition; Joint Winners: Chitcombe House, Woolland, Dorset, and Crucis Park, Ampney Crucis, Gloucestershire
- New Building in a Georgian Context; Nadler Hotel, London W1