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Civic Society Conservation Awards Scheme 2016

Over 120 people attended the Salisbury Civic Society Conservations Awards party at the Guildhall on Thursday 12th January 2017. The judging panel, which was chaired by Salisbury Museum director Adrian Green and also included Georgina Wright, Dieter Scholz and Melanie Latham, considered eleven nominations. Of these three were within Salisbury, and eight were outside the city within South Wiltshire. After considerable discussion, and site visits to short-listed candidates, the judges had decided to give Awards to six of the nominations, and to commend one.

Awards (no particular order in awards category)

1) Salisbury Market Place
The judges’ view was what had been achieved went beyond what ought to be expected from such a project. The fundamental decision to remove all parking, from both market place and the Guildhall Square, was applauded as one which had taken some courage, but which had enabled the kind of thorough-going upgrade which the space had desperately needed. The work had been well-executed, and while many elements are relatively low-key, they play their part in restoring Salisbury’s major secular space to its rightful status within the public realm.

2) The Three Crowns, Harnham
After the former pub closed, several years of neglect left its exterior in a shabby state, and the rescue of the building and its conversion to a guest house was meritorious in itself. What made the whole project particularly distinctive was the repair and recreation of some remarkable C18th plasterwork within the main room, which is now the dining room. How this elaborate decoration, on both ceiling and walls, came to be there is a mystery, but it is a splendid feature, and the work to put it back into good condition had been carried out with great dedication and skill. With its prominent location at the end of the Town Path, the building now makes a very positive impression, which a look inside can only enhance.

3) The Royal Oak Inn, Swallowcliffe
With the building empty for several years, the project to turn the early C18th Royal Oak at Swallowcliffe back into a going concern was worthy in itself, and from the awards scheme’s point of view had been complemented by exemplary treatment of it. New additions had been kept to the rear, where from an internal inspection they clearly added to the facilities very successfully. The interior of the original building had been upgraded to make it an attractive destination, without in any way compromising the historic character. The rescue of the pub had also had maintained its open frontage, and its contribution to the village scene, something that would not have been achieved by conversion to a house, which had been under consideration at one stage.

4) Wilton House: Holbein Porch and Triumphal Arch
The Holbein Porch is a splendid building of the C16th, removed from the house in the early C19th and rebuilt in a location not accessible to the public. Both it and the much more visible archway, which is the main entrance to the house, had clearly been treated in a very responsible way, with necessary repairs carried out without the buildings looking too tidied up. A full range of stone conservation techniques had been intelligently applied, with new stone inserted where necessary. Carving of decorative elements had been executed to exceptionally high standards, and remains of original paint on the porch had been made the subject of a meticulous report. The approach to the buildings did not distinguish between what was very visible to the public and what was tucked away out of sight, and applied the same very high standards to both.

5) 38 Stoke Farthing
Projects which start from a simple country cottage and end with a much larger one have a lot of potential to devalue the original building, but this one had done just the opposite. The interior, in particular, is of remarkable quality. All the work had been underpinned by a clear and consistent philosophy, and a commitment to use only materials, and finished elements from elsewhere, which created a coherent historic character. With high quality craftsmanship mixed in, the outcome was a building full of period features, and the 20th and 21st centuries evident no more than is essential for the house to function as a fully liveable space, not a museum. With new ancillary buildings of equal quality, the whole project was deemed an outstanding success.

6) Park House, West Hatch, Tisbury
This listed house had been substantially increased in size, without compromising its character. A two-story extension at one end fits in seamlessly, and a single storey one at the back has been kept deliberately low key. At the kitchen end of the house it then wraps around the corner and becomes much more prominent, using stone with large expanses of glass, and nicely detailed louvres at eaves level. Within the new glazed space the original stonework of the house remains unobscured. The judges felt that the outcome was a major enhancement of facilities which left the original house fully readable, and in no way compromised by the contemporary form now added to one end of it.

51 High Street, Salisbury, refurbishment and new sheep
This joint nomination combined the rescue of the former SPCK bookshop, empty for several years and looking increasingly forlorn, with the creation of a new wooden sheep above the doorway. The previous version, a relict of the shop’s former use by a firm producing woollen goods, had first lost its head, and then, once repairs were undertaken, proved to be rotten throughout. The work to the premises had been thoughtfully carried out, with new fittings enabling it to meet its new function as a hair salon, without losing sight of the underlying character and identity. The new sheep was felt to have been executed with great skill, and the whole project was of great benefit to this very prominent building.

A photograph of all the Salisbury Civic Society Conservation Awards Scheme 2016 award and commendation winners on the Guildhall stairs and further photographs for coverage of the awards are available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/adrianharris/albums/with/72157675330203524

Neil Beagrie (SCS Publicity) – email neil@beagrie.com
Richard Deane (SCS Vice-Chairman and Awards Schemes) – email rdeane@madasafish.com