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Clandon Park – Earl Unhappy With Winning Restoration Design Concept

Published on: 7 Dec, 2017
Updated on: 8 Dec, 2017

An artist’s impression of the aerial view of Clandon Park House post restoration. Click all images to enlarge.

Following an international design competition inviting architects to “restore, reimagine and rebuild” Clandon Park, architects Allies and Morrison have been chosen from 60 entries to bring the burnt out mansion back to life after the devastating fire in 2015. The property, the ancestral home of the Onslow family, was acquired by the National Trust (NT) in 1956.

Rupert Onslow

But Rupert Onslow, the 8th Earl of Onslow, has restated his opposition to the trust’s £30 million project to transform the interior. Claiming that the plans are bland and overly trendy, he told The Times that the building should be left as a ruin.

He said: “The proposal is exactly what I feared: it is trendy, so will date, and on a site that is too small. The design is very bland and not a restoration but rather a new property in an old shell.

“It is probably unstoppable now but surely if having a grade I listing means anything, it’s not replacing the house with something else entirely if it burns down?”

Cllr Jenny Wicks

Local borough councillor for Clandon and Horsley, Jenny Wicks, was happier with the announcement. She said today (December 7, 2017): “I am delighted that the National Trust had such a high calibre of options to choose from in their international design competition. Now that they have selected the winner it is great that the project for restoring the ground floor of the house and finding innovative uses for the upstairs is moving forward.

“Clandon Park was such an important feature in the village of West Clandon. I look forward to further progress in the near future.”

Allies and Morrison was unanimously selected from six finalists by a jury comprising figures from the fields of heritage, architecture and the arts, including Ptolemy Dean, Surveyor of the Fabric at Westminster Abbey, David Bickle Director of Design, Exhibition and FuturePlan at the V&A Museum, architectural historian, Clive Aslet, and local resident, Dame Penelope Keith.

An impression of how a rebuilt interior may appear.

The jury was also informed by feedback from the local community, members of the public and the extensive research carried out by the National Trust’s team at Clandon Park since the fire.  From 23 August – 1 October 2017 visitors to Clandon Park were able to view the six design concepts on display in the grounds. The property had nearly 3,000 visitors to the concepts display and received over 500 comment cards, forming a “Compendium of comments” for the jury.

Praising the winning team’s bold yet balanced approach, to “respect the quality and character of the mansion house in its historic setting”, the jury found the team’s submission to be a clear and thoughtful proposal, which balanced continuity and cohesion with an appropriate level of drama and excitement.

Visitors might enjoy views from to roof of the surrounding parkland and the house interior.

The proposed concept is at an early design stage and Allies and Morrison will now work closely with the National Trust to develop a final design (subject to gaining the necessary approvals) which will restore and rebuild the 18th-century Palladian house in Surrey.

Sandy Nairne a NT trustee, former director of the National Portrait Gallery and jury chair, said: “Finding the right architect to restore Clandon Park is a very significant milestone in Clandon Park’s history.  The fact that many hold Clandon close to their hearts has been on our minds when thinking about its future. The jury’s unanimous selection of Allies and Morrison was a result of their sensitive response to the brief, which matches the National Trust’s commitment to doing what’s best for the mansion, its surviving interiors and the wider estate.”

Paul Appleton, a partner at Allies and Morrison, said: “Our approach is about balance; meticulously reinstating historically significant spaces while in others exploiting the extraordinary character of massive brick walls. New floors and ceilings are slotted into this robust matrix to re-order and to redefine, but only just as much as is needed to create timeless spaces without erasing the marks of time. From a restored Marble Hall, through the series of grand rooms on the principal floor, to a soaring new space connecting the lower ground floor to a new roof-terrace, each element plays its own particular part.”

“It is hard to imagine an architectural project which bears more directly on the question of how we respond to our heritage. We feel enormously privileged to work with the National Trust to unfold the story Clandon Park has to tell and to begin, together, to weave plans for its future around the extraordinary evidence of its past.”

A cross-section from the winning entry: “…trendy and very bland…” according to Rupert Onslow or “a bold and honest response,” said Matthew Slocombe, director of The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.

And Paul Cook, project director for Clandon Park, said: “We were incredibly impressed with the quality of all the entries in this competition.”

The next stage of the project includes a detailed feasibility study and consultations, after which a more developed design will be able to be shared.

See also: Clandon Fire – Earl of Onslow Says: ‘Out of This Tragedy Will Rise Another Chapter’

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Responses to Clandon Park – Earl Unhappy With Winning Restoration Design Concept

  1. John Perkins Reply

    December 7, 2017 at 8:04 pm

    I disagree – it’s not bland; it’s quite ugly. Why the obsession with glass? Better to leave a ruin.

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    December 7, 2017 at 11:58 pm

    I say the Earl has the best knowledge on the subject and thus should have the last say.

  3. W Clark Reply

    December 8, 2017 at 6:59 am

    Modernism is the posh word for ugliness.

  4. Stuart Barnes Reply

    December 8, 2017 at 9:55 am

    As expected – the designs are appalling. As the great Patrick Hutber said (slightly amended by me) all improvement equals deterioration.

  5. Mary Bedforth Reply

    December 8, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    Ghastly. Agree with Lord Onslow. It is a terrible waste of money and resources especially when there are deprivation, food bank use and homelessness in the country. I appreciate that those matters are not the responsibility of the National Trust but the timing is bad in the current economic climate. I will resign from it.

    The architects are the same ones who produced the Masterplan for Guildford in 2014. What happened to that?

  6. David Wragg Reply

    December 8, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    The National Trust has been taken over by the trendies. As Lord Onslow says, better to leave it as a ruin. At least that would have integrity. The National Trust is supposed to be committed to preservation, not vandalism.

  7. Valerie Thompson Reply

    December 8, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    I agree, the design is clumsy and ugly. Concrete staircases that obscure the structure are truly hideous.

    Why has the National Trust made the decision not to restore the house as was done at Uppark, after their fire? Lord Onslow said at the start that he thought the money would be better spent on properties elsewhere, and though, at the time, I thought the house should be restored, I now agree with him as NT’s ideas are wasteful and pointless.

    It was a terrible day when Clandon burnt but many great houses have been lost to fire in the past and many of them have been left as picturesque ruins, however, Clandon was only interesting for the marble hall and the contents, mainly on the ground floor. As a building it was never a masterpiece and the added porch did little to relieve its plain facade.

    It will never be a magnificent ruin. Let it go.

  8. Len Langan Reply

    December 8, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    One must object to this iconoclastic violation. It is a dreadful, ghastly error of judgement. Vandalism.

  9. David Raison Reply

    December 8, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    What an awful design. NT members want a restoration, not some trendy monstrosity.

  10. Martin Conley Reply

    December 8, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    “One must object to this iconoclastic violation. It is a dreadful, ghastly error of judgement. Vandalism.”

    Hard to improve on that. It’s so bad it’s horrific.

    Who were the jury members?

    The composition of the jury is included in the article. Ed

  11. Michael J Spring Reply

    February 16, 2022 at 6:52 pm

    Has anything happened since 2017? Surely any decision is better than none. Sadly, procrastination is the NTs middle name.

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