Old House Project wins Museums + Heritage Award

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We are proud to announce that the Old House Project (OHP) has won the Museums + Heritage Award for Best Restoration or Conservation Project of the Year. St Andrews, the site of our Old House Project, is a Grade II* ‘building at risk’ near Maidstone, Kent. The former chapel has stood empty for over 50 years. When we bought the building it was hidden behind an overgrown garden; vandal damage had left the site vulnerable; and parts of the roof were leaking.  

In 2020 we were able to continue working onsite in a Covid-safe way, and due to our innovative scaffolding design we were able to host roof tours with social distancing measures in mind. We carried out vital roof repairs to the characterful 20th century post office extension, embarked on extensive archaeological work to help us understand the story of St Andrews, and much more. 

Passing new roof tiles

SPAB director Matthew Slocombe comments: "The project is an important venture for the SPAB and we're pleased and grateful that its value has been recognised. The project brings together some well-tested SPAB ideas and some fresh experiments. Practical, hands-on activities have always been the SPAB's lifeblood, but the OHP has also allowed us to develop links with higher educational institutions, the archaeological community and with local people. Equally interesting has been the chance to explore new technology through scans, videos and online events that have allowed a wide group of people to participate in and learn from the project.”

Our project manager, Jonny Garlick adds: "The project has offered a great opportunity for the SPAB to involve willing volunteers and carry out training. COVID-19 inevitably made this more complicated but, with careful consideration for safe working, we were still able to make good progress.  In fact, the plan has worked better than we could ever have imagined and by sharing more online we have been able to pick up interested people stuck in lockdown all over the world!’

Sustainability has underpinned all work and research onsite at St Andrews. Particularly exciting was the opportunity to re-explore and use building materials traditional to the area, including the waste grey-chalk from a local quarry, fired onsite in our hand-built kiln to produce a lime mortar for building repairs.

A successful lime burn in the hand-built site kiln

The SPAB is grateful to all the experts and volunteers who have made the OHP possible and to the local community for their enthusiastic support. A connection with neighbouring Boxley Abbey has allowed us space to extend the project to far larger groups of people and to give the project building - St Andrews - a context within its wider historic landscape. We would like to thank the SPAB members who champion our work, as well as the Pilgrim Trust and Architectural Heritage Fund for their financial support.

If you would like to be part of the Old House Project's story you can support our work by donating.


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