Historic Interior

Manor House, Islip - from farmhouse to home

We are delighted to have received planning and listed building consent for alterations to Manor House, Islip. In a bold, but sensitive scheme, consent has been granted to convert the old farmhouse into a contemporary home. The proposals involve providing additional dormers in the roof space so that the attic can be converted for bedroom accommodation. At first floor, the removal of modern partitions will create a generous master bedroom suite. On the ground floor, later partitions will be removed to restore the symmetry of the central sitting room and adjust the bay window so that the utility can be used as a breakfast room. The construction of a new garden room to the rear will provide aspect out onto the garden.  

The proposals also include a scheme of repair including the re-roofing of the stone slate roof, re-pointing and unpicking of unsightly alterations to the rear.  

Our initial research has established that the dwelling was once a farmhouse dating from the early 18th century.  Despite its historic and architectural importance the house has seen many changes, particularly in the 19th century when the house was updated to Victorian standards with a dedicated coal house, wash house and separate kitchen. Victorian windows were added in the ground floor and the east end adapted in the 19th century, and long used as the village store. The proposals will remove poor 20th century alterations restoring the dignity of one of the oldest working houses in Islip.

Mission Church, Paxford - A faithful approach to design

Mission Church, Paxford, view from east

Mission Church, Paxford, view from east

We are delighted to be commissioned to develop designs to convert Mission Church into a two bedroom, holiday let. The design and alterations have been informed by a heritage statement and condition survey which we undertook earlier this year. 

The project is unusual as Cotswold Council have determined that the building is a non-designated heritage asset under the NPPF and so sensitively converting the interior is a material consideration.  Whilst non-designated heritage assets do not fall under the listed building act of 1991, the design of the interior has to be made to respect the heritage of the Church and as a result building regulations matters have to be taken into consideration at an early stage.

‘Mission Church’ was initially constructed as an Infant School for 100, but was designed in an ecclesiastical style and indeed was used for Church services very shortly after. In 1886, the building became a national school, spreading the Mission of the Church and promoting education to the poor.

 

46-48 Covered Market – uncovered.

View along avenue 2

View along avenue 2

As a first phase of a heritage led regeneration of the Oxford Covered Market, planning permission and listed building consent was granted for the restoration of 46-48 Covered Market. The scheme restores the unit, externally removing modern brick extensions to improve views along the avenues, whilst internally uncovering and repairing early fabric. Alterations will provide a flexible layout for up to three smaller units, which is proving very attractive for best in class independent retailers. Davis Witts of Pershore Foods has opened a new fishmongers in the former Hayman’s unit and the Teardrop micropub has opened a new food emporium in the unit next to the bar selling local produce.

We first realised that the stall was too good to leave covered up following a survey in April 2018. However, careless alterations carried out prior to the Market being listed in March 2000, meant that there was a large funding gap to repair the store properly. Oxford Preservation Trust have funded the conservation work which has allowed Oxford City Council to restore the units sympathetically.

Opening up work carried out in June 2019 by Oxford Direct Services has begun to reveal more about the original fabric and history of the units. The original stone flag floor and surviving sections of chimney breasts which form part of the 18th Century phase. Remnants of the early shop front frames have been revealed and have allowed us to redesign the new shop fronts in a more fitting design closer to the earlier appearance. Wall-tile paintings by artist John Ellis a gift to butcher, Mr Feller, have been saved and will be presented elsewhere in the market. The project goes out to tender this week to a number of local contractors and works are due to start at the end of August 2019.

Parquet - no way!

Works to remove the 19th Century Wood Veneer Floor from the Drawing Room at Bere Court and replace it with a periodically sensitively designed new oak floor was unanimously approved by planning committee Councillors on Wednesday evening. The works were called to committee owing to previous resident’s claims that the floor was a very early 18th Century parquet floor. 

The removal of the floor is required to remove extensive areas of asbestos that were identified in an asbestos survey report carried out in 2017. Our investigations with Japser Weldon, May 2018 confirmed that the floor was a wood veneer floor adhered to a timber substrate and the floor joists below the floor were 19th Century. Our thorough investigations and sensitive proposals were supported by Historic England and West Berkshire Council’s conservation officer.

The consent will enable a major phase of asbestos removal planned later in February. The asbestos removal will make Bere Court safe for our client, their children and grandchildren to live in for many years to come.

Appointed as inspecting architect to St Mary the Virgin, Black Bourton

The earliest part of Black Bourton Church, the Chancel, was presented to Oseney Abbey in 1180 by Hugh de Burton and Ralphe de Murdac. The three lancet windows at the east end are unusual and distinctive of this period. The nave, north arcade and the font are from 1180, but in the 13th century changes were made to the north wall of the nave, including the addition of a north transept, and two lancet windows installed in the south wall.

The earliest record of the village, Burtone, is in the Domesday book where the land is shared by three manors. The manor in the south of the village was held by Oseney Abbey, until the Dissolution when it passed to Christ Church. The manor in the north of the village came into the possession of the Hungerford family through marriage in the 15th Century. The Hungerford family suffered financial decline and after the enclosure most of Black Bourton came under the ownership of the Duke of Marlborough.

James Lupton was Vicar from 1827 until his death in 1873. James Lupton persisted in the construction of a school to improve literacy in the village, and began the restoration of St Mary's in 1866. During the restoration the north wall was rebuilt and two lancet windows installed. The stained glass by Clayton Bell is from 1866. The restoration revealed pre-reformation wall paintings, however, before James Lupton could return from London to restore them, his curate chose to have the paintings white washed once more. It was not until 1932 that the wall paintings were finally restored. The wall paintings depict scenes from the life of the Saviour and from English history of the period - Saint Thomas à Becket canonised in 1174 and Saint Richard of Chichester canonised in 1262.

Conservation of old cottage commences

After nearly 19 months of investigations, design work and negotiation, work has finally started on the reinstatement of the Old Cottage in Balscote, Oxfordshire. The works are being carried out by Oxfordshire contractor Alfred Groves and Son, who won the project having tendered for the second time in July 2017, to reduce costs. As part of a strategy agreed with conservation officer, Jennifer Ballinger, Cherwell District Council, the reinstatement work will see the external appearance and ground floor of the cottage restored to its pre-fire state, whilst the first floor and new roof structure will be constructed from modern materials in a sympathetic style. 

The fire

The fire started from a mirror reflecting the early morning sunshine on to the thatch. The fire brigade responded rapidly and after three hours the fire was under control, however the thatch and roof structure were completely destroyed. The fire brigade remained at the cottage for 24 hours to prevent the fire from recurring, through the night there were spontaneous fires from the smouldering thatch. James Mackintosh was appointed by loss adjusters, Crawford and Co. to carry out emergency works to stabilise the Old Cottage, and facilitate a strip-out contract to enable the Old Cottage to be rebuilt. A design team including Price and Myers, Baqus, Greenwood Projects and Robert Demaus were quickly engaged. A heritage statement was prepared to support an application for planning permission and listed building consent for reinstatement. Sadly the owner lost the majority of their belongings in the fire. 

Mary Somerville back at the heart of Walton House, Somerville College.

Departing Principal Dr Alice Prochaska had long wished to see the former JCR in the oldest part of the College, Walton House restored as a quality interior deserving of an Oxford College. The Mary Somerville Room a contemporary - period restoration of the old Dining Hall.

James Mackintosh was appointed by Treasurer Andrew Parker to transform the room into a very elegant well-proportioned space in a periodically sensitive way.

The aim of the project was to restore the space to how the Hall appeared in 1901 – its finest period of decoration. However, a true arts and crafts interior would have been heavy and masculine – in contrast later dates would have been too domestic. The brief for the detail developed with college archivist, Anne Manuel, was ‘classical with a hint of arts and crafts’.

 

Foxcombe Fireplaces

Example of Delft tile

Example of Delft tile

Early 20th Century changes to historic fireplaces at Foxcombe Hall.

Despite the modern lighting, carpet and furniture, Earl Berkeley's Bedroom and Dressing Room of 1904, designed by Ernest George and Yeates, remain largely intact. Decorative relief plaster cornice and carved wood doors, the period fireplace with blue tiling. However, one thing I overlooked (until my recent meeting with Vale of the White Horse DC, conservation officer, Sally Straddling) was why were these precious tiles installed? ...and what the fireplace would have looked like originally? This was a good question, and on reflection is something that I have seen over and over again. Firstly at the Radcliffe Infirmary in 2011, and more recently at Somerville College.

The main period of tin-glazed pottery in the Netherlands was from 1640-1740. Delft - based on 14th Century Chinese Porcelain became incredibly popular as a result of Dutch trade with China.  Despite the artistic process involved in the creation of Delft tiles, the tiles did not evolve into a luxury item, andinstead remained accessible to most of the middle class population in colonial Dutch society. As Dutch Delftware increased in popularity, the English began to incorporate the Dutch painting style into their tiles as well. As demand grew, the production of Delft tiles was manufactured in factories, the most famous of which were based in Bristol and Liverpool. Eventually the Dutch followed suit and began to produce their own tiles in factories. The tiles became popular after an embargo was imposed against the importation of goods into Britain

The fireplace in Berkeley's Drawing Room at Foxcombe 2017.

The fireplace in Berkeley's Drawing Room at Foxcombe 2017.

In the colonies, Delft tiles became an expensive item as authentic copies could only be imported from Britain.

It is not clear whether the tiles at Foxcombe were Dutch or a reproduction from England, nevertheless they appear to pre-date the 1904 Chimney.

Hilary Grainger's recent book 'The Architecture of Sir Ernest George and Yeates' predominately illustrates exteriors and therefore doesn't provide a clue to the typical George and Yeates designs. Gavin Stamp's book on Lutyen's (Pupil of Ernest George) has a number of fireplaces similar to the fireplace at Foxcombe, such as the fireplace at Sullingstead See fig 1. Given the grandeur of the interiors carried out by Ernest George and Yeates at Foxcombe It seems most likely that the fireplaces at Foxcombe would have reflected the architectural fashion of open fires, reflecting the designs of fireplaces from the medieval country house.

Sullingstead, Lutyens

Sullingstead, Lutyens

So why and when was it covered up?

During the Edwardian period 1901-1914, the preoccupation as far as fireplaces were concerned was to achieve greater efficiency with less fuel consumption. Slow combustion techniques were constantly being improved. The cheeks of the fireplace would be made from fire-brick, splayed at the sides and with the back sloping forward, so to project more heat into the room. Often the grate was ventilated directly from outdoors to the fire did not draw a draught across the room. Chimney pieces took many forms, with an increase in the use of glazed tiles more elegant than in the Victorian Period, and often set within older period frames.

So my assumption is that it was covered up by Albert Richardson as part of his 1935 alterations shortly after Rippon Hall purchased the House. The closing of the back would have improved the efficiency of the fire and the ancient tiles have proved a sympathetic and appropriate design solution of the time. 

So what to do? it would be lovely to see what is behind the fire boarding, but perhaps the tiles have more relevance now that the building has been taken over by Peking University. Perhaps the simplest thing to do is to find a suitable fire grate to install within the tiles - we shall have to wait and see.

References
https://hhscollections.wordpress.com/2015/10/20/the-evolution-of-dutch-delft-tiles
Elements of Style, Calloway S. Octopus Publishing London 1992.
Edwin Lutyens Country Houses. Stamp G. Aurum Press, London 2001.
The Architecture of Sir Ernest George and Yeates, Grainger H. Spire Books, Reading 2011