The Farnham Building Preservation Trust was recently shortlisted for the prestigious Surrey Heritage Awards for conservation works and restoration of a 16th century building, Old Yew Tree Cottage in Wrecclesham. The Awards recognise “Best Practice” in historic building conservation in Surrey, looking in particular for examples of projects that breathe new life into neglected buildings.
When the Farnham Trust purchased the Grade II listed Old Yew Tree Cottage in 2015 it was in urgent need of care and attention to save and restore it, returning it to practical use and ensuring its survival into the future. The Trust’s aim was to conserve the building using traditional materials and techniques, adding a sympathetic extension to allow the building to be used and lived in. The Trust also chose to prepare a detailed record of the history of the house and were able to use dendrochronology, or tree-ring dating, to obtain a likely construction date of 1551 for the oldest part of the building.
The vision was to bring the building into the 21st century in a sympathetic way and make it suitable for modern life. Unsuitable modern materials that had been used in past repairs were stripped back, and the building was then conserved using the traditional materials that were essential to maintain it appropriately for the future. The timber frame needed many repairs, and while the work was in progress it was found necessary to include a complete roof replacement, because previous repairs had caused rot in the timbers.
In addition, as part of the project a new entrance wing was added. In designing this the Trust adopted an honest approach, making sure that the old and the new would sit comfortably, side by side. The project was completed at the beginning of this year and Old Yew Tree Cottage is now on the market awaiting its new owner. The lucky owner will have the advantage of benefiting from the extensive professional repairs and improvements that the Farnham Trust has carried out, leaving it ready for occupation.
The Surrey Heritage Awards are organised by The Surrey Historic Buildings Trust, and the awards event was held at the stunning West Horsley Place, courtesy of the Mary Roxburghe Trust and Bamber Gascoigne, on Wednesday 27 March 2019. The six shortlisted projects were judged by a panel of experts including chief judge Matthew Slocombe, Director of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB). The Trust’s Patron, Michael More-Molyneux, Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey presented the awards with Parklands Farm Granary, Ockley being named the overall winner.