Bewsey Old Hall becomes developer’s excuse

cheshire-bewseyoldhall

Bewsey Old Hall

It’s a familiar story; an old house with a bit of ground has become a bit dilapidated but rather than it being carefully restored as a single family home a developer snaps it up as an ‘opportunity’.  Despite the obvious wealth of Cheshire (or perhaps because of it) approval has almost been given for Bewsey Old Hall to not only be converted into seven apartments but for *48* more units in six other blocks to be built on stilts in the grounds.  So the house goes from being the excuse to enable building to a mere architectural fascinator in the centre of large scale development.

Luckily the local councillors have collected thousands of signatures opposing the plans and are fighting a rearguard action despite the decision of the Government planning inspector who has crazily approved this vandalism. One final hope is that a parcel of Government-owned land which is required to enable the development may yet not be sold.  If the council are successful, here’s hoping that someone with money can buy the house and land and bring this house back to life.

Full story: ‘Last gasp to save Bewsey Old Hall‘ [This is Cheshire]

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Grand attic sale raises £2m

Lord and Lady Gerald Fitzalan Howard of Carlton Towers had hoped to raise £1m to pay for repairs to his family home through the sale of silverware, furniture and paintings from the Towers.  Whilst it’s always sad when the contents of a house are sold to fund repairs, thankfully, the sale went better than expected and raised over £2m which will hopefully secure the future of one of the most interesting Gothic houses of the North East.

Full story: ‘Heritage under the hammer as hall sale raises £2m‘ [Yorkshire Post]

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West Wycombe House at risk from high-speed rail link?

buckinghamshire-westwycombehouse

West Wycombe House

Concerns have been raised that the proposed route of the £34bn Network Rail project to provide a high-speed link to Scotland will severely compromise many areas of natural beauty and a large number of listed buildings including the setting of the Grade-I listed West Wycombe Park in Buckinghamshire.

The main problem lies in the fact that to achieve high speeds, the 1,500 miles of railway lines would need to be laid in the most direct line between two locations.  This would mean that the line would simply carve through the landscape, destroying areas of Special Scientific Interest and unspoilt countryside in the heart of the Chilterns such as the Misbourne valley.

One proposal of particular concern is to build tunnels beneath High Wycombe but the Chilterns Conservation Board (CCB) fear that the tunnel would surface near the historic village of West Wycombe – threatening the  stunning setting of the architecturally important West Wycombe House.  The Italianate-style house with it’s rococo gardens were built by Sir Francis Dashwood – of Hellfire Club fame – over a period of 60 years from 1740. The defining exterior feature is the rare double colonnade (see picture) which was certainly inspired by Palladio’s work in Italy such as the Palazzo Chiericati which Dashwood would have seen on his Grand Tour.  Further Palladian and neo-Classical flourishes in both the house and parkland make this house worthy of protection from crude spoilation by the planners.

More details: ‘High speed rail line will blight Chilterns‘ [Chilterns AONB]

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Country house content sales continue

Following on from the recent auction of contents from Powerham Castle in Devon to pay for much needed repairs and maintenance, Lord Gerald Fitzalan Howard, second son of the Duke of Norfolk, is doing the same. Lord Gerald’s home, the Grade-I listed Carlton Towers in Yorkshire, requires approximately £1m spent on essential repairs.  Carlton Towers is a fine example of type of large Victorian Gothic houses which were particularly popular in the North.

With the help of the family archivist and architectural writer John Martin Robinson the family have selected 120 lots including furniture, ceramics, silver – including a set of four silver wine coolers by Rundell, Bridge & Rundell, dated 1809 and 1811, and Old Master paintings – including two views of Venice by Canelletto.

The sale is on 4 November at Sothebys, New Bond Street, London.

Catalogue: ‘Carlton Towers‘ [Sothebys]

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For sale: country house with good local shopping

Stone Castle

Stone Castle

To call Stone Castle a country house is pushing it really.  The house, built on the site of the castle where William the Conquerer signed a peace treaty with the men of Kent in 1067, is now besieged by property development which has marched to within 70ft of the front door.  Current owners, Land Securities, have used the house as a venue for conferences and weddings.

The house is perched on an outcrop high above the old quarry which now houses the vast Bluewater shopping centre. The house has a tower dating from the 14th-century but the majority of the house is late Georgian, built in 1825.  The house now only has 2.5-acres of gardens but luckily the developments are to the rear of the property leaving lofty views from the lawns.

The house is being auctioned on 5 November with a guide price of £750,000 – but expect to spend even more to make it a home.

Full story: ‘STONE: Hidden castle from medieval era up for auction‘ [News Shopper]

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Ouch – Melville House sold for £1.6m; down from £4.5m

Melville House, Fife

Melville House, Fife

In a cautionary tale of how ambitious restorations can come unstuck, Melville House has been sold for a ‘knock-down’ £1.6m by agents Knight Frank.  The 17th-century Palladian mansion boasted 11 bedrooms, seven receptions plus stables, a tennis court and even a cricket pitch.  It was built in 1697 for George, the 1st Earl of Melville, then secretary of state for Scotland by James Smith.  The 1st Earl died a few years after his creation was finished but the house remained in the Melville family until it was sold – along with the contents – in 1949.

It had been requisitioned by the Army as a barracks during the war (the probable damage from which led to the sale) and then became a hospital and subsequently a residential school before being sold to a developer for £400,000.  It was then sold on again in 2003 for £1m and the new owner then spent over £2m on restoration.  The latest owner has secured a bargain – here’s hoping it’s now in safe hands.

Full story: ‘Repossessed mansion sold for ‘knockdown’ price‘ [stv]

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Odd goings-on at Oddington

The Sunday Times reports that permission has been granted to Sir Anthony Bamford to demolish the lodge at Oddington House.  Sir Anthony bought the Grade-II listed house as a £10m wedding gift to his son – who decided to decline (wonder what else was on the wedding list!).  Rather than sell the house it appears the JCB tycoon has grand plans – but looking at a photograph of the lodge it is obviously a substantial and attractive building  so one hopes that the report is wrong as this sets a rather worrying precedent.

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