Lutyens Trust Casework

Spring 2008

Autumn/Winter 2007-8 has produced an unprecedented casework load, involving many of Lutyens’s most important buildings: some of the following are ongoing. Ednaston Manor (1913) has always been rated as one of the most perfect ‘Wrenaissance’ houses. Applications for planning and listed building consent involved demolition of a 1980s billiard room, and rebuilding as linked outbuildings to balance the originals across the service court. Detailed input was made by the Trust and English Heritage. Approval was granted subject to the Trust and EH subsequently approving details of the interior. Alterations were proposed to the crypt of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral (1929-40) to create a new, secure, treasury and exhibition area. While the principle was acceptable, the detailing appeared insensitive: the Trust advised that a ‘minimalist’ approach be adopted to avoid disruption of the sublime majesty of Lutyens’s ‘post-classical’ design. The Historic Churches Trust of the northern diocese conditioned that their approval to be subject to the Trust’s approval.

Discussions with the Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs about the proposed Visitor Centre at Villers Bretonneux are ongoing. Martin Lutyens, Michael Barker and I met John Littler and the design team in November, and it was evident that progress on the design was being made. All are mindful of the necessity to ensure that the calm serenity of the National Memorial remains unimpaired, and the proposal to re-route the highway away from the immediate frontage should assist this.

Since their removal to Canary Wharf, the future of the HSBC (former Midland) Bank Headquarters building in Poultry (1924-39) has been subject to speculation. The latest proposals, for conversion to a ‘six star’ hotel were submitted to the Corporation of the City of London in December. This is a complex application, and I am liaising with the Twentieth Century Society in the preparation of comments, following a joint inspection of the building in late January. While it is evident that care is being taken over the important banking hall interiors, and the directors’ suite on the fourth floor, there is also the necessity to thread intensive new services through the building, particularly on the intermediate floors (for which Gotch and Saunders were executive architects). Potentially controversial proposals for a penthouse and roof terracing also appear. With over 100 drawings, and a foot high stack of reports, this is one of the most complex casework items with which I have been involved in 21 years as Architectural Adviser.

Finally, Folly Farm, Sulhamstead (1904:1912) has new owners, who are understandably full of enthusiasm for house and garden, and have embarked, with their architect, on a thorough research programme to understand how the house evolved through the years (with a surprising amount of alteration, even after it was listed in 1951). Items on the agenda include a feasibility study of restoring the original interior of the central living hall of the 1906 block, with its scarlet Chinese Chippendale balconies and black walls. I spent an enjoyable day there in mid- January, and will monitor how the designs evolve: English Heritage will also be involved.

Dr Mervyn Miller