Last week we welcomed three scholars, Triona Byrne, Declan Cahill and Gethin Harvey, from The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) to Kelmarsh. SPAB was formed in 1877 and its aim was and still is to conserve ancient buildings.
Since 1930 SPAB have offered the SPAB Lethaby Scholarship to support three or four architects, engineers and surveyors. Triona Byrne who is an engineer, Declan Cahill who is a building surveyor and Gethin Harvey who is an architect, have all completed their qualifications, are professionals in their fields and are currently on the Scholarship. The Scholars travel round the country and abroad visiting historic buildings and conservation sites. It is an intense nine month programme but very rewarding for the scholars as they gain valuable knowledge of conservation areas.
One of the reasons Kelmarsh was chosen was because Triona is interested in the influence of woman on country houses and Kelmarsh fits perfectly with this topic, due to Nancy Lancaster’s influence at Kelmarsh. Additionally, our Heritage Lottery Funded ‘Tunnelling through the Past’, was of huge interest as they could see our conservation work in progress and what we hope to achieve from it. They visited the basement area and the Capital Works in progress area, alongside touring the Hall itself.
By visiting the basement which includes areas formerly used by those who worked in the Hall including a butler’s pantry, bake house and footman’s room in the basement of the main house and a wash room and ironing rooms in a separate laundry block, the scholars were able to envisage our plans for opening this ‘below stairs’ area to the public.
Triona, Declan and Gethin were all fascinated by the conservation of the Stable Yard. This area is where the laundry block containing the dry laundry, wet laundry and fuel room is located and according to the scholars it is not an area that you often see being preserved which made it unique in itself.
There will be opportunities for the public and the local community to see behind the scenes of this project. Keep an eye on our website, social media or sign up to our newsletter.