May 25 2013 Latest news:
Sunday, June 17, 2012
A HUNTINGDONSHIRE listed folly that evokes 14th century farming practices among conservationists is officially off the critical list.
The Grade II*-listed Warren House, situated on an escarpment overlooking Kimbolton Castle, had been high on Huntingdonshire District Council’s buildings-at-risk register.
But after a high-quality £610,000 restoration by the Landmark Trust, a charitable building preservation trust specialising in this type of historic building restoration and use, the long-term future of the building has been secured as a high quality holiday let.
“The building existed in its current footprint by 1763, but its construction may date even earlier to the mid 17th century or late 16th century,” HDC conservation officer Katie McAndrew told The Hunts Post.
“Census records show that between in the mid-to-late 19th century Warren House was used as the game keeper’s house. The building is named as Warren House on a 1764 map of the Kimbolton estate.
“The name of the building ties its association to the ancient practice of rabbit-farming,” she added. “Documentary evidence shows that this farming practice was being carried out on the Kimbolton estate during the reign of Edward III in the 14th century.”
The trust, which is now accepting bookings from July 20, says it discovered evidence of 17th century security measures during the work.
“The ground floor of a warrener’s house was used to store his equipment and, equally importantly, the rabbit carcases and pelts, which were of high value,” a spokesman said.
“Security was therefore an issue and from the few warren houses that survive it appears that this ground-floor room was often windowless.
“As our Warren House at Kimbolton is timber-framed, it looks as if the ground floor security was beefed up by using some rather ‘heavy-duty’ wattle for the infill panels. Rather than the more usual woven panels using thin and flexible stems of hazel as in the upper panels, on the ground floor much thicker sections and of split oak have been used with a generously applied layer of daub.
“The warrener clearly wanted to sleep well at night, knowing his ground floor was as secure as possible,” the spokesman added.
Ms McAndrew said the architecturally-fascinating building was a relic from the landed estate once associated with Kimbolton Castle. After the estate was sold off by the Duke of Manchester in the mid 20th century, the building was redundant with limited prospects for future use.
It survived the threat of demolition in the late 1970s and underwent extensive repairs but without a use and regular maintenance it fell into disrepair again.
“By 2003 the building was rapidly deteriorating, its decline being accelerated by vandalism,” she explained.
“In 2003 this listed building became a high priority building at risk case for the council’s conservation section. Discussions about the building’s future were held with the owner, associated to a local farmer, and thoughts were given to finding a potential viable use for the building which could tie in with a scheme of repair.
“A holiday let became an option as this use could capitalise on the architectural interests of the building, its beautiful location and work with its limited space.”
The Landmark Trust, took on Warren House in 2005, but it took until 2010 for a project to come to fruition and for the trust to secure the necessary funds to carry out the works. Work took place between Summer 2011 and Spring 2012, largely funded by grants from the Monument Trust, English Heritage and HDC.
INFORMATION: A display about the restoration of Warren House will be in the Council’s offices, Pathfinder House, from June 18 to 22. The Landmark Trust will also be holding a public open day at the building on Sunday and Monday August 19 and 20: details at www.landmarktrust.org.uk