A Yorkshire Dales barn restoration has won a coveted Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) national award for ‘Best Commercial Property’ as well as a RIBA ‘Regional Award’ and a RIBA ‘Conservation Award’.
The £2 million project to restore the 500-year-old Great Barn at Bolton Abbey, was overseen by the contractor Universal Projects, fit out specialists in the retail, office and residential sector and Pearce Bottomley Architects.
When the Bolton Abbey Estate decided to press ahead with an application to convert this agricultural building into a prestigious wedding venue, they approached Pearce Bottomley Architects as specialists in conservation architecture.
A 16th Century oak timber frame contributes to the building’s outstanding heritage significance and the project was made even more complex by the fact that it’s part of a scheduled ancient monument, in a conservation area, with roosting bats and residents nearby.
Unsurprisingly, the architects worked carefully and closely with the owners and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority before finalising a scheme that conserves this iconic building and gives members of the public the chance to appreciate its internal structure.
Working with skilled local craftspeople to retain the integrity and authenticity of the barn, the company restored the heavily beamed interior of the building as well as every last roof tile. Each was individually removed and cleaned before being replaced on a raised roof level. Outside landscaping (including roads), lighting and car park surfacing were also completed using traditional methods.
Work on the 50 x 170 foot building was completed in 2018, taking less than seven months from start to finish. Now a hugely popular wedding venue it can seat up to 200 guests (300 for evening receptions).
RICS judges said transformation of the 16th Century tithe barn from a cluttered agricultural store into a magical wedding venue was ‘exemplary’ and added: “The Bolton Abbey Estate committed in excess of £2 million from its own funds to the project to transform the building, increase rental income tenfold and achieve payback in seven years. The confidence given by this project has boosted the area and paved the way for further investment in other developments.” The flagship venue is now generating 13 times more rental income for the Bolton Abbey Estate.
Martin Hartley of Bolton Abbey Estate said: “The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, who own the estate, were blown away when they saw the finished result. Universal Projects did an amazing job to complete the project on time, on budget and to ensure the finished project met the estate’s expectations. Everyone concerned is delighted with what has been achieved.”