Restoration

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.

Packwood Piers

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Following a lovely spring day surveying at Packwood House, Warwickshire, we are delighted to have been appointed by the National Trust to carry out the rebuilding of the piers on the main entrance driveway.

 

Our survey revealed that the piers are leaning from the brick footing at ground level, so all of the brickwork will need to be carefully dismantled, recorded and re-built from the base up. The pier is of no immediate safety concern but will be rebuilt this year as a precaution. We are busy drawing up each and every brick so that the piers can be rebuilt. The conservation conundrum is whether to rebuild the piers exactly as they were originally - other piers across the site have finials and those on the south piers appear to be missing. The origin of these piers is as yet unclear.

 

Packwood House belonged to the Fetherson Family from the 15th to the 19th Centuries. Charles Fetherson (1815) insisted everything he ate drank, used and wore be grown on his land and made within his walls. Sadly this did not last and the house fell to ruin. Packwood was eventually bought by a midlands industrialist, Alfred Ash in 1905. His son Baron Ash made its restoration his life’s work. The entire interior was inserted in the 1920-1930s garnered from decaying houses across Britain. Baron Ash was of a generation that disliked Georgian and Victorian styles, his aesthetic preference was for the antique.   

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.

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. 

Redefining the Elizabethan House, Plymouth

James Mackintosh Architects together with DHV architects have been appointed as conservation accredited architects for the regeneration of the late Sixteenth Century Elizabethan House Museum for Plymouth City Council.

The Elizabethan House is a Grade II* listed quay-side merchant’s house in the Barbican area of Plymouth’s beautiful historic old town. The museum is the most complete and unaltered example of a jettied merchant’s house in Plymouth. However, the building is in a poor structural condition and is on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register, and needs careful repair work and complete re-servicing to bring it back to life as a cultural destination for Plymouth.

We are working alongside a team of specialist consultants on the project to help deliver an imaginative interpretation strategy alongside carefully considered repair and conversion work.

The project is being delivered in collaboration with DHV Architects as part of a growing strategic partnership between the practices.

The museum is due to re-open in 2020 as a leading component of the Plymouth Mayflower 400 celebrations.

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