The Historic Houses Foundation is a major beneficiary of the Heritage Stimulus Fund, announced by the UK Government and Historic England in October 2020, which is providing invaluable support for restoration work on some of England’s most important and vulnerable historic buildings. The grant means that the Historic Houses Foundation has been able to set in place a programme of urgent work that would not otherwise have been possible.
Norman Hudson OBE, Chairman of the Historic Houses Foundation commented “Our grants go to historic buildings in all categories of ownership, so range far wider than the National Trust. That we have been selected as a Delivery Partner for this money indicates that the Government likes what we do and recognises the exceptionally cost efficient way in which we achieve it. It is good news for historic buildings and good news for jobs and the local community”.
After careful consideration, 18 nationally important properties across England were selected as most in need of support.
Here is a brief introduction to the projects:
Alnwick Castle, Northumberland
Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, one of the great fortresses of the North, is 900 years old in parts and is still home to the family of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland as it has been since 1309. At the heart of the castle, the central keep, the Prudhoe Tower, built by Victorian architect Anthony Salvin in the 1860s, needs attention.
Crumbling masonry, parapets and chimneys need repair for the safety of over half a million visitors who come to the Castle and The Alnwick Garden next door each year. The keep houses the lavish State Apartments and one of the windows is instantly recognisable to Harry Potter fans as the office of Professor McGonigle in the first of the films.
Boston Manor House, London
Boston Manor House, one of the earliest examples of a neo-classical house of the English Renaissance, now belongs to the London Borough of Hounslow. These funds will cover the restoration of the trend-setting Jacobean porch part of the regeneration project planned for 2020 which can now go ahead. The house and its exceptional Jacobean interiors, first created for Lady Mary Reade in 1623, will now be on track to become an important community resource for the people of Hounslow 400 years later.
Cllr Samia Chaudhary, Cabinet Member for Leisure Services at Hounslow Council said:
“We are delighted that Boston Manor House has been selected to receive this grant enabling us to fully restore the deteriorating porch at this magnificent Grade 1 listed Jacobean Revival manor house. With public finances under severe pressure, without funding such as this generous award from the Historic Houses Foundation, it is hard to see where we would find alternative funds for this essential restoration work.
We have a duty to the borough and to future generations to conserve and maintain Hounslow’s unique heritage assets. The skills required to complete conservation work also need to be protected and this project will support employment for highly skilled artisan specialists.”
Broadlands is a Palladian mansion, the work of two of 18th century’s most celebrated architects, Capability Brown and Henry Holland. The elegant conservatory was also designed half by one and half by the other and is an important element in the Georgian parkland. Owners, Lord and Lady Mountbatten report that the roof is leaking and now urgent repairs will be able to take place.
Claverton Manor, Nr. Bath
Claverton Manor is a fine Regency mansion, today home to the only American Museum of Decorative and Folk Art outside the United States and the place where Winston Churchill made his first political speech. Repairs to the roof are required immediately to prevent further damage to the interiors of the museum and its special exhibitions. For example, the current exhibition, “Night & Day: 1930s Fashion and Photographs” features a range of glamorous eveningwear that is particularly vulnerable to a leaking roof.
Museum Director Richard Wendorf has said that "We are thrilled to have been awarded a major grant from the Historic Houses Foundation to pay for urgent roof repairs to Claverton Manor as part of the Government's Cultural Recovery Fund in collaboration with Historic England. This will not only help us to preserve our distinctive Grade 1 listed building, set in unique gardens and parkland in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but will also protect our unique museum collection from damage caused by the elements.
We are immensely grateful to the Foundation for helping us to preserve our unique building and institution for future generations to enjoy. This project will make a significant contribution to our organisational sustainability and protect jobs in the culture and heritage sector at this unprecedented, critical time."
Eastnor Castle, Herefordshire
Enchanting Eastnor Castle is a popular visitor attraction and wedding venue at the foot of the Malvern Hills. In 2010, owner James Hervey-Bathurst discovered that the decorative ceilings in the Long Library and Dining Room were becoming degraded, and work was first done to secure the structure. These rooms were given a makeover in Italian Renaissance style in the 1860s, and specialist restoration of the painted panels that make up the ceilings is now urgent. The grant will also cover repairs to the cast iron bridge that allows visitors to walk around the lake for the best view of the castle, probably the work of British Museum architect Robert Smirke, who built the castle for 1st Earl Somers in 1812.
James Hervey-Bathurst says: “Eastnor attracts over 50,000 visitors a year, and the richly-decorated Long Library and Dining Room are very important parts of the visitor experience, as is the path round the lake which crosses the stilling pool below the lake weir by the original cast-iron bridge. We had deferred all this work, with the risk of further deterioration taking place, until the offer of the grant came through, so I am delighted the work is now going ahead and am very grateful to the Government and Historic England for channelling this support through the Historic Houses Foundation to secure our heritage at this difficult time.”
Everingham Hall Chapel, Yorkshire
The Roman Catholic Chapel of St Mary and St Everilda, beside Everingham Hall, is an extravagant expression of a faith that had been suppressed since the Reformation when it was built in the 1830s. Today its Italian Baroque interiors are suffering from the ingress of water through the roof. A full roof repair will now restore its glory, protecting the marbled Corinthian columns, detailed bas reliefs, statuary and fine English organ.
Philip Guest, owner of Everingham Hall said: “Maintaining an important historic building is a huge responsibility and we are so grateful for the help of the Historic Houses Foundation. We are now busy organising immediate repairs to the roof to save this remarkable interior and allow the chapel to be used by the local Catholic community.”
Haddon Hall, Derbyshire
Haddon Hall in Derbyshire lay empty for over two hundred years and was saved from certain ruin in the 1920s by the 9th Duke of Rutland who made its restoration his life's work. Lord and Lady Edward Manners, the current incumbents, are the first family to live in the hall for over three hundred years and continue the restoration started by the 9th Duke to this day. Haddon is a fortified manor house built over 500 years - featuring Norman, Medieval, Tudor and Elizabethan architecture and described by Simon Jenkins as “the most perfect English house to survive from the Middle Ages.” These funds will complete the restoration of the Norman and Medieval chapel including the important early 15th century chancel window with fine stone tracery and stained glass which is in a critical state; and restore two chimneys, also in a critical condition, which serve the medieval kitchens.
Lord Edward Manners said; “"Haddon Hall is truly grateful to the HHF for their generosity and funding that will enable essential work to be carried out here. Our elegant chapel is enjoyed by thousands of visitors each year but it is also a parish church and it sits at the heart of our community. Visitors and church goers alike will again be able to wonder at the early 15th century chancel window and its stunning and historic stained glass. In addition, two chimneys on the point of collapse that serve our medieval kitchens will be saved. These painstaking tasks would not have been possible without this terrific grant and Lady Edward and I are particularly pleased that this highly skilled work can be undertaken by local craftsmen and talented professionals in these most uncertain of times."
Hedingham Castle, Essex
Possibly the most perfectly preserved Norman keep in the country stands next to a later Queen Anne house in Essex and is home to Jason and Demetra Lindsay, descendants of the Norman baron who built it. Restoring the main door of the keep and windows of both the keep and house, along with the stonework surrounding them, will allow the castle to resume its modern life as a unique wedding and events venue and open safely for educational visits.
Owner, Demetra Lindsay said “We are so grateful for the Historic Houses Foundation’s grant to help us with the urgent maintenance and restoration of the windows and door to Hedingham Castle. It was essential that this work was carried out this year but we were unable to continue the repair programme as business stopped due to the pandemic. To add insult to injury the beautiful old door of the keep was vandalized in the summer and this now can be replaced. This grant is a timely lifeline to maintain the fabric of this magnificent and treasured complex. The Historic Houses Foundation not only supports the necessity to maintain historic buildings but also realizes that frequently the annual maintenance bill far surpasses a year’s business profit due to the ancient nature of the structures. It thus ensures essential repairs are made as a stitch in time, preserving our country’s astonishingly rich heritage.”
Holkham Hall, Norfolk
Holkham Hall is a Palladian masterpiece built by Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester. Today, the 8th Earl of Leicester is embarking on an ambitious restoration of the six acre walled garden originally laid out for his most famous ancestor, the agricultural reformer Coke of Norfolk, by the architect Samuel Wyatt in the 1780s. The funds will be used to help restore a large Victorian glasshouse by Thomas Messenger & Co, a rare survivor of the Victorian passion for raising tender and exotic plants. The Messenger glasshouse is the second of the surviving historic glasshouses at Holkham to receive funding from the Historic Houses Foundation.
The Earl of Leicester says: “We are really grateful to have been awarded this Historic England grant through the Historic Houses Foundation enabling us to complete our Messenger Glasshouse restoration project in the Walled Gardens at Holkham.
Maintaining rare listed buildings such as these that earn little or no income, but are historically important, is a drain on resources. But it is both an obligation and a labour of love that we are proud to be undertaking. We are truly thankful for this timely help.”
Knebworth House, Hertfordshire
When the mother of popular Victorian novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton redesigned their Tudor house at Knebworth to give it an unmistakable gothic skyline, she created something of a headache for her descendants, Henry and Martha Lytton-Cobbold. Repairs to flaking stucco have been ongoing but this grant will fund the first phase of major underpinning of the North West Tower to restore the house’s distinctive silhouette, the backdrop to so many rock concerts and national events.
Chairman of Knebworth House Education and Preservation Trust, Dr Robert Fernley says: “We are extremely grateful to have received this support from The Historic Houses Foundation. This grant will allow us to carry out emergency repairs that will enable us to continue visitor access to Knebworth House and retain employment.”
Layer Marney Tower, Essex
Layer Marney Tower is a house with a soaring Tudor gatehouse, centrepiece of a building planned in the reign of Henry VIII but never completed, and is today home to Nick and Sheila Charrington. On one side of the Retainers’ Courtyard lies the rare medieval barn built around 1450. It forms a crucial component of the buildings lying between the principal Tower range and the Long Gallery.
The grant from the Historic Houses Foundation will enable urgent repairs to the roof timbers prior to re-roofing using re-claimed tiles. Once complete the barn will serve a multitude of purposes – education, performances, trade shows, Christmas Fairs and weddings – as well as forming the base for the Forest School to be opened in 2021.
Owner Nick Charrington commented that “this grant is not only going to save a great example Essex vernacular architecture, but is also going to create a great space that will have a multitude of uses. We have been very hard hit by the current pandemic and this grant is a lifeline, putting Layer Marney Tower in a far better position to flourish in the future”
Muncaster Castle, Cumbria
Muncaster Castle is one of the Lake District’s most popular attractions, loved as much for its ghost tours as for its works of art, its Himalayan gardens and its Owl and Hawk Centre. The Pennington family have been here since 1208, although the medieval castle was extended by Anthony Salvin in the 1860s. The main gateway into the Victorian Service Courtyard has become unstable and is unsafe for visitors. Restoring work to the stonework and ironwork over the course of the winter will extend the visitor area.
Peter Frost-Pennington of Muncaster Castle said “We are delighted that the Historic Houses Foundation has offered us grant aid to assist in repairing and making safe the entrance archway, iron decorative grill and gateway to the service courtyard of Muncaster Castle. This will help us to save this area from dereliction and is the first step in helping us to transform it into a beneficial space to stimulate future uses and public access.”
Levens Hall, Cumbria
Levens Hall is globally famous for the earliest topiary garden in the world but the garden is a setting for a remarkable Elizabethan house. Structural repairs are urgently needed for the North Tower where a leaky roof is posing a threat not just to the Main Hall but to rooms dedicated to storing collections of vulnerable papers and paintings.
Richard Bagot, owner of Levens Hall, said “We are extremely grateful to the Historic Houses Foundation for their support. Without this funding we would not be able to undertake the major structural repairs needed to the North Tower. During the Victorian era, the tower’s traditional lime rough-cast render was removed and replaced by a hard cementitious mortar, but this is now cracking, causing fissures through the stonework. The parapets are open-jointed allowing water ingress through the wallheads and the roof is also leaking. Damage to internal rooms has been very serious. These issues need addressing urgently before any further damage is done to the building and its contents. We look forward to the continued long-term preservation of our heritage with the help of local conservation experts.”
Newby Hall, Yorkshire
Newby Hall, home of Richard and Lucinda Compton, is celebrated for its collection of paintings, tapestries and works of art as well as for its gardens, last year’s winner of the Historic Houses/Christie’s Garden of the Year. Restoration will begin this winter on damaged and weathered stonework on the exterior of this elegant late 17th century house designed by Sir Christopher Wren and on the portico added by Yorkshire architect John Carr.”
Stuart Gill, General Manager at Newby Hall commented “We are so grateful for this capital grant from the Historic Houses Foundation which comes at the end of a challenging season for us at Newby. It will allow us to tackle some fundamental restoration needs that simply wouldn’t have been possible this year. It keeps our restoration programme on track and protects the house at the centre of our successful visitor attraction.”
Powderham Castle, Devon
Powderham Castle is the ancestral home of the Earls of Devon and is one of England’s first neo-gothic buildings. Constructed at the end of the 14th century in homage to the French castles besieged by its builder Sir Philip Courtenay during the 100 Years’ War, it consisted of a medieval great hall flanked by six towers. The castle was modernised and expanded during the 18th century into a grand gothic mansion with rococo interiors, but its castellated roofline and towers continue to define its baronial aesthetic. The tops of these towers and their crenulations are in urgent need of attention and can now be restored.
Charlie Courtenay, Earl of Devon, commented: “We are thrilled to be able to complete these much-needed repairs to Powderham’s four surviving towers and we are very grateful to the Historic Houses Foundation for its support. This complex and essential program of works will ensure the castle is weatherproof, safe and secure for our visitors. We are excited to work with such skilled professionals and craftsmen to deliver this high quality restoration project.”
Wick Court, Gloucestershire
Wick Court – a moated Elizabethan lodge that looks out across the fields and reed banks along the River Severn – is operated by the charity Farms for City Children who welcome thousands of children every year for a countryside, food and farming experience. The Charity, which was founded by author Michael Morpurgo and his wife Clare, has undertaken extensive restorations since acquiring the property on a long lease some 25 years’ ago although the regular influx of children does, inevitably, limit the pace and extent of the ongoing works. The new Historic Houses Foundation grant will allow the restoration programme to forge ahead now, while the children are absent, so that the house will be in good shape when the Charity’s vital work resumes, almost certainly at a time when the offer of a truly rural experience will be even more valuable to all children.
“The HHF grant is a fantastic opportunity for us to undertake extensive and urgent works that would otherwise take several years to complete on a piecemeal basis outside of peak season. The timing of the grant dovetails perfectly with a unique pause in our usual charitable operations due to the government’s ban on school trips due to Covid. This means we can hand the whole site over to the major works project and tradespeople without any restrictions for public access or child safeguarding concerns. This HHF funded project will be transformational, ensuring the long-term sustainability and integrity of Wick Court so that the historic building can be enjoyed by thousands more school children and local community groups in the future.”
Sulgrave Manor, Oxfordshire
Sulgrave Manor is a Tudor farmhouse, originally home to the ancestors of George Washington, the first President of an independent America. The house contains one of the best collections of Washington memorabilia in Britain and is a must-see stop for visitors from the United States as well an important resource for education in Anglo-American relations and American politics. The HHF funds will allow the repair of the roof of the 18th century brewhouse used by the Washington family.
Alison Ray, CEO of the Sulgrave Manor Trust commented: “We are so grateful to the Historic Houses Foundation for this capital grant. We use the original brewhouse as our main visitor entrance and gift shop and we are really looking forward to getting repairs underway to restore this special historic building
Woodchester Mansion, Gloucestershire
Woodchester Mansion is the masterpiece of Victorian architect Benjamin Bucknall, a local lad, but work halted when owner William Leigh died in 1873. Repair to the roofs of this vast empty gothic revival mansion will maintain both its unique structures and the habitat of its resident colonies of Greater and Lesser Horseshoe bats, which have enjoyed the longest continuous scientific study of any mammal in the world.
Rhiannon Wigzell, Chairman of the Woodchester Mansion Trust said "Thanks to the Historic Houses Foundation we can do some major conservation, mending the decaying roofs over 20% of the footprint of the building. This is a significant heritage craft project, and a huge morale boost to everyone who cares about the unique and inspiring Woodchester Mansion.”