Castle Howard’s restoration of fire-damaged room will continue despite warnings of ‘extensive heritage damage’

Castle Howard’s restoration of fire-damaged room will continue despite warnings of ‘extensive heritage damage’
Castle Howard’s restoration of fire-damaged room will continue despite warnings of ‘extensive heritage damage’

Ryedale District Council’s Planning Committee has approved plans to restore the paneling, cornices, plinths, dado rails and fireplace in Castle Howard’s Cabinet Room which has lain derelict since its destruction in a chimney fire 82 years ago needs to be restored to its full glory.

It was given the green light by the authority just days after Castle Howard management announced a far-reaching master plan to safeguard the estate’s future and restore the sprawling property.

Members agreed that the proposed scheme would preserve the special interest of the Grade I listed building.

Renovation work at Castle Howard will now continue.

Councilor Mike Potter, chairman of the committee, said: “A lot of research has been done by the council’s historians and planners. The restoration program itself will be a tourist attraction.

The major restoration project will see the Vanderbank Four Seasons tapestries made for her in 1706 returned to their original location at the 145-room property near Malton.

The decorative scheme of the room will also be redone using historical photographs.

Historic England said the proposed interventions were well supported by detailed and specialist research and would build on the work carried out and the principles established on previous restoration work in GardenHall and New Library and the Lake Sitting Room.

Some expert groups have criticized the decision to proceed with the renovations.

The government body added that the redone interior would bring back an appearance in the room similar to what it would have originally had until around 1759.

A spokesperson for Historic England said the project represented “a welcome step forward in the process of gradually restoring the lost interiors of this exceptional building”.

However, experts from the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and the Georgian Group have called on Castle Howard management to consider “alternative and less intensive work plans” to reincorporate the tapestries into the room.

Opposing the proposals, The Georgian Group said it had significant concerns about the reliability of the evidence put forward to justify the proposed decorative scheme and that the proposed fireplace in the style of the original architect Vanbrugh was inappropriate and “poor pastiche”.

A spokesperson for the group said the main sources of evidence offered were two historical photographs from the early 20th century and a sketch of Hawksmoor from 1706 showing the southeast corner of the room.

He added that the proposed program of works had “the potential to cause significant damage to the special architectural and historical significance of Castle Howard”.

The planning committee heard while advice from the Georgian Group and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings was “welcome and informative”, the statutory adviser in this case was Historic England.

Planning officials said the bare-walled, fire-damaged Cabinet Room was a stark interruption to the grand architectural experience designed and stressed that Castle Howard is a lived-in family home.

They said: ‘It is not unreasonable in the event of fire damage to seek to restore parts of the house as a minimum, recognizing that as a listed building this is part of respecting the legislation and management plan in relation to this restoration. .”

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