On Friday 2 December, Wimpole Gothic Tower, Cambridgeshire was named as the winner in the Repair & Restoration category at the 2016 Natural Stone Awards.
Organised by Stone Federation Great Britain, the official trade association for the natural stone industry, the biennial Natural Stone Awards celebrate the best examples of the use of natural stone in construction projects from across all sectors of the industry.
This year saw hundreds of projects entered across the different categories, and particularly encouraging was the 52% increase seen in entries compared to the 2014 Awards, making the judge’s task even harder.
The project presented a challenging and complex conservation problem – how to repair a ruin and stabilize it for the next 200 years without compromising its weathered beauty. Cliveden’s dedicated team of conservators, masons and joiners worked tirelessly to complete the project – an effort and result of which Capability Brown, on his 300th anniversary, would surely be proud.
The Gothic Tower was designed to look like a picturesque medieval ruin and lies in the parkland of the National Trust’s 18th Century Wimpole Hall Estate, the largest country house in Cambridgeshire. The Grade II* listed Folly was brought to life by great landscape designer Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown from 1768-72, based on an earlier sketch by architect Sanderson Miller for his patron Lord Hardwicke. In the following centuries, the ruin suffered extensive and gradual damage with many important characteristics being completely eroded.
As a conservation project, Wimpole has broken new ground by involving large numbers of volunteers in bringing each element of the work to the public’s attention, and has ensured the Gothic Tower is once again a treasured part of an idyllic landscape.
The judges felt that this was an exemplary way to carry out this kind of restoration. They noted that the work is very competent with new stone going in well with the old. The new stone has been tooled to dressings as the original was, and the whole structure was shelter coated and brushed back on the original stone pulling the whole together.
The result is a very successful restoration of the folly and an intelligent and sensible repair and conservation of this large structure which can be seen directly from the house.
“this was an exemplary way to carry out this kind of restoration… the work is very competent with new stone going in well with the old.”
The whole team involved with the project were presented with their award by guest presenter The Right Honourable Michael Portillo at the ceremony in London’s Grange Tower Bridge Hotel.