Esher Award

This award commemorates the late Viscount Esher GBE, Hon FRIBA, who was Chairman of the SPAB from 1932-1960. It is not presented every year but is given when merited to an individual (or individuals) who has (or have), on purely altruistic grounds, substantially furthered the cause of conservation and contributed significantly to the work of the Society.

In 2017, Stafford Holmes received the Esher Award. Stafford has given decades of support to the SPAB and the world of building conservation as an architect specialising in the study and application of building limes, and traditional building materials. Stafford has leant his expertise as a host to the Scholars and Fellows programmes, as a member of the SPAB technical panel, with the Building Limes Forum and Rodney Melville & Partners. He has spent countless hours building kilns, slaking lime and educating others through seminal books and research. His tireless work in Pakistan and elsewhere has brought sustainable solutions to local problems all over the world.  


Other recent recipients

Cumbria-based architect Elaine Blackett-Ord and engineer Charles Blackett-Ord, who have done so much to promote conservation in the north west and to support the SPAB’s work, including though Charles’ Chairmanship of the Society’s Technical Panel and though hosting the SPAB’s Scholars and Fellows on their country-wide conservation travels.

Architectural writer, broadcaster and historian Gillian Darley – a seasoned conservation campaigner with a keen interest in vernacular buildings, who played a key role in the SPAB’s ground-breaking Barns Campaign in the early 1980s. Gillian later went on to chair the Society and remains a Trustee and Guardian. She also became President of the Twentieth Century Society in 2014. Her most recent book, co-authored with David McKie, is Ian Nairn: Words in Place (2013) – a look at the life and legacy of one of Britain’s most pugnacious architectural observers.

Architect Neil Birdsall, an associate of the SPAB Scholarship and a stalwart member of the Society’s Technical Panel. Through his own architectural practice, Neil has himself worked on over 300 churches over the last 40 years. He comments: “Buildings recall people and people recall buildings. I still go into churches with which I have been involved and am reminded of someone I’ve known or worked with over the years. It’s been my privilege to have this connection with some wonderful buildings, and with the folk who cared for them and worked on them. Many of these places are part of the fabric of the nation, reflecting our collective memory and they must remain part of the nation’s future too. And I know this will be the case – looked after by SPAB architects and craftspeople and repaired according to the principles of the SPAB.”