Author John Fowles’s former home wins UK award

PUBLISHED: 11:05 18 December 2015

Restored Blemont House

Restored Blemont House

Archant

Belmont House at Lyme Regis named best restoration project by Georgian Group

The restoration of Belmont House in Lyme Regis, where John Fowles wrote The French Lieutenant’s Woman, is amongst the winners of the 2015 Georgian Group Architectural Awards.

Sponsored by Savills, the awards celebrate those who have demonstrated the vision and commitment to restore and create Georgian buildings and landscapes across the UK.

Grade II Listed Belmont House was announced winner in the Restoration of a Georgian Building in an Urban Setting category.

Belmont House is a 1785 maritime villa looking out over the Cobb, and it is where John Fowles wrote his best known novel later to be made into a film starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons.

By the time he died the house was in a bad state, the gardens overgrown and the structural condition of the building poor. The Landmark Trust acquired it and took the decision to restore it to the form known by original owner Eleanor Coade, creator of the artificial stone that bears her name.

This involved demolishing what was left of the substantial Victorian and later extensions in order to make it a villa in the round. The project has been informed by meticulous building analysis and documentary research and the building is now again a thing of real beauty, a delightful monument to one of the great female entrepreneurs of the Georgian period.

Anna Keay, director of the Landmark Trust, said: “We’re thrilled that Belmont in Lyme Regis has been chosen as the best restoration of a Georgian Building in an Urban Setting at the Georgian Group awards. The scheme was a bold one in which a series of degraded later additions were demolished to reveal Mrs Coade’s Georgian gem.

“We believed firmly that this was the right approach and we are absolutely delighted the distinguished judges of the Georgian Group awards agreed. The award will give Belmont extra magic for the thousands whose donations made the project possible and the tens of thousands who will stay or visit on open days over the coming years.”

* The winning schemes were chosen from a total of nearly 60 entries. Crispin Holborow of Savills’ country department and member of the judging panel, said: “It is vital that we continue to recognise the time and skill that goes into restoring and safeguarding some of this country’s finest Georgian architecture. The winning projects are the culmination of years of planning, hard work and expertise from a huge number of people. Across all categories, from the restoration of fire damaged shells to the creation of new buildings in the Georgian style, the finished works are simply inspiring, and are a true reflection of the dedication of those involved.”

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