In May, we received a letter from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) infoming us that the restoration project had been shortlisted for the RIBA Town and Country Design Awards, covering projects in the Wessex, South West, Channel Islands and Scilly Isles. We were also informed that the four judges would be visiting us on June 2nd.
Obviously we did not put this on the news page at the time but have waited for confirmation of the result. On 26th june, we received an email from Pip Morrison of our architects, Van der Steen Hall Architects Ltd, stating that Church House South Tawton has won the RIBA Wessex Conservation Award for 2006. Printed below is the text from the RIBA website http://www.ribawessex.com/index.html
"Van Der Steen Hall Architects Ltd, The Old Exchange, Chastord, Devon TQ13 8BZ Tel: 01647 433455
Church House was built in c.1490 for Church Ales for brewing, baking and feasting and to be used for weddings and funeral gatherings and fundraising. Church House has since been used to store weapons in the 17C, as a schoolhouse in the 18C, as a Poor House in the 19C and a village meeting hall and art gallery in the 20C.
The Dartmoor granite building has elegant 15C windows - the east window original tracery intact but the south windows much altered and defaced. A small north window was blocked in c. 1699 when a new chimney stack was inserted. A further small window filled with hand made bricks.
The thatch and oak trusses date from c.1490. One truss is remade from earlier elm and oak timbers with fascinating detail variations in construction at either end. The smoke blackened thatch is original to c.1490 and of great significance. Sample analysis of this thatch has revealed much about late mediaeval cereals, crop weeds, thatching methods and materials.
Destroyed stone mullions and spalled stonework have been expertly replaced. Oak floors and muntin screen carefully renewed. Oak doors and windows have been replaced to traditional detail. The 18C iron railings, photographed in 1906, are now repaired. Poor fabric repairs from the 20C have been replaced with lime mortar pointing and lime putty plaster work. The historic thatch has been top dressed in wheat reed and one failed roof bay renewed entirely using original detail and materials - oak rafters, riven oak staves, rye fleeking and base coat and wheat reed top.
The process of scheme design and work on site has permitted research, investigation and analysis by archaeologist, dendochronologist, historian, specialists and students. A sensitive conservation contractor has taken great care to repair the building and took time to train new workers and students in traditional craft skills. The project has therefore been fulfilling in many ways. Church House will continue to delight as a building and with care will be a valuable community resource for another hundred years.
A conservation project which has been done with meticulous attention to detail. The judges were impressed with the teamwork without which it would be difficult to get such an outstanding finished product."
Obviously we are all very pleased and proud. Pip will be going to Jesey in September for the Award ceremony.