Stop press: Work at Belmont is now underway. View the video below and visit our Project update page to see the latest news.
A new Landmark in waiting
Belmont is a fine example of an 18th-century maritime villa in Lyme Regis. Today it is in need of urgent repair. Our project will rescue Belmont from decay and restore it to its late-Georgian glory, creating a Landmark which will sleep 8 people. As it was once Mrs Coade’s holiday villa, so it will be used for holidays again, with its original features repaired and reinstated.
Work has started but we still desperately need your support to complete the project. Please help us raise a further £302,500 to meet our appeal target of £1.8m.
Our plans to restore Belmont
We need to raise £1.8 million for the restoration of Belmont. Since acquiring the house in 2007, we have commissioned extensive research by a team of experts including archaeology, paint analysis, structural analysis and documentary research to establish the history, development and current state of the building. All planning and listed building consents are already in place ready for us to start work once we have raised the necessary funds.
Help us save Belmont
An 18th-century maritime villa
Belmont is a fine, early example of a maritime villa, a new building type that sprang up in the second half of the 18th century with the rising popularity of sea bathing and holidays by the seaside. Our research has shown that the house was built before1784 by Samuel Coade. This is the date he transferred the house to his niece, Mistress Eleanor Coade (1733-1821), one of the most intriguing figures in 18th-century architecture.
The Coades hailed from the south west and were a significant family in Lyme Regis. Mrs Coade became a well-known London business woman, owner from 1769 of an artificial stone manufactory in Lambeth. She devised a formula to mass produce architectural embellishments and statuary of the highest quality. Through inclusion of a high percentage of pre-fired material in the mixture, Coade stone wares emerged from the kiln with closely predictable shrinkage and therefore accuracy. The light, buff coloured results can easily be mistaken for stone and are highly durable. Many examples survive today in the buildings and landscapes of all the finest 18th-century architects – yet today Mrs Coade is scarcely known beyond architectural historians.
After her death in 1821, the business continued under distant relations but had ceased by 1843. All traces of the Lambeth premises were lost during the construction of the South Bank complex in the 1950s. Apart from her artefacts and some loose leaf ‘catalogues’ advertising her wares, Belmont is now Mrs Coade’s only memorial.
After Mrs Coade’s death in 1821, Belmont was lived in by a series of tenants, until it was bought in 1883 by a GP, Dr Richard Bangay. He transformed the villa into a large family home, adding two large side wings, conservatories and an observatory tower. By the time John and Elizabeth Fowles bought the house in 1968, the conservatories had gone and the wings had been haphazardly reduced.
John Fowles’s hopes for Belmont
John Fowles, the author of seminal works such as The Magus and The French Lieutenant's Woman, lived at Belmont from 1968-2005. Towards the end of his life, he approached Landmark to help realise his wish that after his death, Belmont could be enjoyed by other writers and as many people as possible, through use as a Landmark. Above all, he wanted to prevent Belmont being turned insensitively into a hotel or boarding house. His writing room on the first floor overlooking the Cobb will play a pivotal role within the restored house and will become the main drawing room for visitors. It will include a writing desk and a large number of John Fowles books in the library. His achievements will also be celebrated in an interpretation room being created in the old stable block.
Belmont overlooks the Cobb, an iconic setting in The French Lieutenant’s Woman, a novel which John Fowles finished writing at Belmont. Only with your help can we realise John Fowles's wishes that Belmont be enjoyed by others, including fellow writers.
‘The usual destiny for large houses in Lyme these days is to be bought up as hotels. I am determined to avoid this; and hope that the house… may have some kind of permanent educational function.’
John Fowles (1926-2005)
October Belmont video blog
Work at Belmont begins
28 October 2013
We are delighted to announce that work on Belmont has begun. Read the full news story here.
We still need the remaining £322,000 to save Belmont, so please donate if you can.
Belmont’s observatory tower saved!
We are a significant step closer to saving Belmont after an incredible donation of £100,000 was made to the appeal this week by an anonymous Guardian of Belmont. The donation is to be used to fund the restoration of Dr Bangay’s observatory tower, as well as supporting the wider project. Aided by a group of local retired engineers, we will restore the winding gear of the observatory tower’s roof to full working order, and install a telescope, so that it can once again be used as an amateur observatory, whilst adding extra enjoyment and discovery to a visit to Belmont.
We still need £393,000 to save Belmont. To find out more about becoming a Guardian of Belmont, and the packages of restoration work your gift could fund, please contact Bruce Hall, Head of Development, on 01628 825920, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Supporters enjoy a late summer private tour of Belmont
Belmont in Lyme Regis was a hive of activity in September. We threw open the doors to supporters of the appeal, Patrons and Guardians. Hundreds of donors enjoyed a private viewing in summery conditions, and the following day Anna Keay hosted the annual Directors Lunch, attended by 42 Patrons. A merry band of volunteers from the Friends of Landmark also helped clear part of the garden and salvage valuable materials. Preparations have now begun to start work at Belmont but we still need to raise more support to fully fund this exciting £1.8m restoration project.
Restoration of Belmont could start this Autumn – but donations urgently needed.
Our fundraising appeal to save Belmont has received a huge boost with a donation of £500,000. Over 1,200 generous donors and trusts have already helped us raise £1,291,000 and as a result, we now hope to start restoration work this Autumn. To ensure the fragile fabric of the building does not have to endure another winter, we must first find the outstanding £508,000, equating to just 28% of the total.
The recent donation, from a grant making trust, has given us hope that we may be able to start work this year but we urgently need to find the remaining funds if we are to achieve this. If restoration work is not started in October it may have to be delayed for another whole year as there are only a few months each year when the roof can be taken off so that there is minimal disturbance to bats resident in the house.
Help us to get started with the restoration and to protect this important place for future generations.
Belmont in the news
BBC Radio 4: Woman's Hour, 28 May 2013
The Guardian, 8 May 2013
An introduction to Belmont