• Painted Chamber hero

Saving buildings at risk in 2024

Landmark Historian, Caroline Stanford, reflects on the last few years at Landmark, the conservation projects currently in the pipeline and the at-risk buildings in our sights.

A week or so ago, I went back to Llwyn Celyn in Monmouthshire to give a talk at an open day, an update on the buildings Landmark has restored in the six years since the completion of that hugely challenging project. It brought home to me quite how much we’ve all achieved together in that time, thanks to your ongoing support.

By the end of 2024, Landmark will have saved six more fantastic and diverse buildings: Winsford Cottage Hospital, Cobham Dairy, Semaphore Tower, Fairburn Tower and Station Agent’s House (opened in May this year), plus our exciting contemporary scheme at Calverley Old Hall, due to open early this autumn.

The next months will also see the completion of major refurbishments at Rosslyn Castle and Wortham Manor. With other refurbishments planned too and new restorations ongoing, 2024 is turning out to be a particularly busy year at Landmark.  

It’s an amazing roll call, made possible only by your loyal support and endorsement of Landmark’s approach and ethos.

As Landmark’s in-house Historian, I’m closely involved with sifting the tens of buildings suggested to us each year. Only a very few end up as Landmark projects.

For those few buildings at risk which become Landmark projects, patience and thoroughness are then needed. There may be unforeseen conditions, sometimes exhilarating (like the discovery of the Tudor painted chamber at Calverley Old Hall), sometimes needing fortitude (like working around bats or complex negotiations with other bodies). A bit like jumbo jets waiting for a landing slot, it’s often hard to predict which order our projects will come in to land.

Next to land

COH and Maison Dieu 600x400.jpg

As I write in June 2024, the buildings making their final approach to the runway are Calverley Old Hall in Leeds and The Mayor’s Parlour at Maison Dieu in Dover. At Calverley, with the main contract works now complete, Opus Conservation are gently cleaning and consolidating the unique wall paintings so that we can bring it back into use. At Maison Dieu (where we are part of a larger project to restore the whole of this former town hall), Arte Conservation are reviving nineteenth-century painted decoration with equal expertise, the astonishing vision of architect William Burges of an imagined medieval past. We hope to open The Mayor’s Parlour as a Landmark for four early in 2025.

Projects on the horizon

Meanwhile, our next projects are coming into clearer focus. In this month of remembrance for the landings on the Normandy Beaches on D-Day in 1944, the importance of saving the former RAF Ibsley Watch Office in Hampshire seems greater than ever. A rare survival of the War Office’s 518/40 design for a Watch Office with Meteorological Section, Ibsley is now a gutted shell but it saw a frontline role during the Second World War, and USAAF planes flew from Ibsley in support of D-Day. At RAF Ibsley now, we continue to develop our project to rescue the control tower, with environmental surveys onsite ongoing as part of the planning process.

Projects on the horizon June 2024 .jpg

Later this year, we’re looking forward to launching our next appeal for the restoration of the South Tower at Wentworth Woodhouse near Rotherham. This legendary Georgian mansion and its exceptionally fine interiors have been at risk for decades, but now the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust is working heroically towards a new future for the whole site. We are delighted to help by providing a new prospect for the South Tower. This was once the elegant parlour of Mary, 1st Marchioness of Rockingham, which we hope will become an elegant Landmark for two people.

Finally, we are so delighted to share the news of an exceptional £5.3m grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund for the complicated acquisition and consolidation of Mavisbank, near Edinburgh. This 1720s house is of a beauty unmatched in Scotland, the creation of Sir John Clerk and his architect William Adam. Already the culmination of almost a decade’s dogged work by the Landmark team, this project will take years more to bring in to land but its flight path is now clearly plotted.  

So - exciting times lie ahead for Landmark, and we look forward to sharing these journeys with you. None of this would be possible without you, our loyal supporters. As ever, we offer our heartfelt thanks for your support and encouragement, whether by choosing to stay in our buildings for your holidays or donating to our appeals. None of this work could happen without you.

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