wardour castle 1992 to date
Wardour Castle and its immediate estate of around 40 acres was acquired in 1992, following nearly a year of negotiations with the vendors, planning authorities and funding sources. A 55,000 SQ FT Georgian mansion considered to be the finest work of Britain’s foremost Palladian architect, James Paine, and reputedly the largest house in Wiltshire, it contains, in the opinion of the architectural historian Nicolaus Pevsner, the finest Georgian staircase in England.
The propery had been on the market for nearly three years following the closure of its former owner, Cranborne Chase School, in 1989. After failing to reach its reserve of £1.25m at auction in November 1991, and an aborted sale as a potential hotel the following February, an offer was submitted and accepted, subject to consent for conversion to apartments. Following planning approval in December 1992, the sale completed.
A restoration and conversion programme was undertaken on the basis of a simple guiding principle: to return the property to its intended state as envisaged by the original architects, including additions to the estate, such as the stable courtyard, which had remained unrealised. The development programme would be undertaken in four phases
1. Conversion of the castle to ten apartments for letting.
2. Restoration of the Walled Garden, including the Camellia House, and reconstruction of four pinery conservatories as cottages.
3. Construction of Wardour Court, an unrealised 1776 design for a stable court adapted as a courtyard of eleven town houses.
4. A final phase of the remaining elements including: restoration of an unrenovated apartment in the castle (No. 12); construction of the Temple House, a four bedroom house incorporating The Dairy in the west wing mews; reinstatement of the east wing mews as four houses; replacement of Nightingale Cottage, a 1940’s house straddling the Grade II* walled garden with a courtyard of four units distanced from the garden wall; construction of a garage courtyard of 27 garages to replace parking on the castle forecourt; and development of The Orangery; a new classical building adjacent to the Temple Garden, incorporating a swimming pool.
The enabling permission granted in 1997 for fifteen houses (the four Pinery Cottages, and Wardour Court) represented the first instance in the UK whereby an enabling development had been based on a genuine historic design. The Times described the programme as ‘one of the most ambitious and imaginative restoration projects this century’. The Georgian Group referred to Wardour Court as 'the exemplary enabling development nationally'.