The 2014 Georgian Group Architectural Awards recognise exemplary conservation and restoration projects.

A house left to rot in North Wales and the abandoned family home of the Earl of Shaftesbury shared the prestigious accolade of best restoration of a Georgian country house presented at last week’s annual celebration of 18th-century architecture by the Georgian Group at Christie’s, London, sponsored by Savills.

Hendre House at Llanrwst, Conwy, had been empty for nearly 70 years and was in the parlous state that is sadly typical of some 50 other deserted Welsh country houses when Michael Tree bought it in 2000. Mr Tree has brought the estate back to life with a major restoration project on the house re-roofing and renewing all floors, rebuilding chimneys and replacing windows and, outside, underplanting and fencing parkland, restoring the walled kitchen garden and rebuilding drystone walls.

Writing in Country Life (July 2), the architectural historian John Martin Robinson described Hendre as ‘a perfect Regency house in an idyllic setting’ and Mr Tree’s achievement as ‘heroic’. When the 12th Earl of Shaftesbury inherited Grade l-listed St Giles House, Wimborne, Dorset, he was a DJ in New York and the house had been empty for 50 years. Clive Aslet, who visited it last year (Country Life, December 4, 2013), wrote that ‘the obvious option might have been to sell the house’, but, instead, the Earl ‘began a renovation programme of breathtaking ambition’.

He commissioned Philip Hughes Associates to perform a total repair of the house, internally and externally, plus the creation of a new ‘tower’ entrance, in 2011. Extensive work has been done in the grounds: dredging the lake, replanting the avenue, thinning woodland and repairing bridges, lodges and the grotto.

Crispin Holborow, director of Savills’ Country Department and a judge for the awards, says that the standard of entries shows the Georgian house ‘is still king a lovely combination of landscape and the Arts’ and that owners remain prepared to do remarkable things despite the significant barriers in the current tax restrictions on historic houses.

Fellow judge Hugh Petter, an architect and vice-chairman of the Georgian Group, adds: ‘It’s a strong entry, which shows the style is alive and well. The key thing about these awards is that they acknowledge a group of brilliant architects and craftsman who don’t get a look in with other, more modern prizes.’

Other winners
Restoration in an urban setting Llanelly House, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire (by the Carmarthenshire Heritage Regeneration Trust)
Interior Kenwood House, London NW3 (English Heritage)
Reuse St George’s Chapel, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk (Hopkins Architects)
Garden and landscape Painshill Landscape Garden, Surrey (Cliveden Conservation et al for Painshill Trust) (Country Life, September 11, 2013)
New building in the Classical tradition Chitcombe House, Woolland, Dorset (Stuart Martin Architects for a private client), and Crucis Park, Ampney Crucis, Gloucestershire (Yiangou Architects for a private client)
New building in Georgian context Nadler Hotel, London W1 (ADAM Architecture)

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