A publication by English Heritage called ‘Constructive Conservation – Sustainable Growth for Historic Places’ www.english heritage.org.uk/constructiveconservation highlights conservation-led success stories across the UK where a positive and constructive approach to managing change has helped historic buildings and sites to be kept in use. In turn, these projects have stimulated economic growth. Constructive Conservation means having a thorough understanding of what makes a site historically important and collaboratively working with owners and developers to enhance that, while finding a new use that allows their continued use and enjoyment.
Clinton Devon Estates' land management headquarters - The Rolle Estate Office at East Budleigh - was listed as an example of 'Constructive Conservation' in the 2013 publication.
The award-winning Rolle Estate Office at Bicton Arena in East Budleigh opened in 2008 in the grounds of Bicton Park, a Grade 1 registered landscape of national importance. The scheme was supported by English Heritage because of its potential to rejuvenate a run-down part of the parkland and restore lost landscape elements such as historic tree clumps and estate railings which had once protected historic tree clumps from grazing damage. According to English Heritage; "the design of the new building responded to the historic setting, incorporated local materials and achieved high levels of sustainability,"
Having stood empty for many years, Clinton Devon Estates’ Grade II listed China Tower had fallen into disrepair and needed significant funds to fix its leaking roof. The Estates approached the Landmark Trust for help to secure its future. Following the restoration, repair and conversion works, funded by Clinton Devon Estates, the Landmark Trust has now taken on a lease to let the tower for holidays. Restoration work began in 2012 with the entire tower being scaffolded so that the render could be surveyed and repaired. Electricity and water have been connected for the first time and air-source heating installed.
Since work began, an original flagstone floor was found beneath a later floor and has now been restored and is kept warm with underfloor heating. The Landmark team have made a new kitchen and installed a small shower room into a rear extension. The first and second floors have been transformed into comfortable bedrooms and, on the top floor, there is a sitting room where a collection of china vases are displayed on wall-mounted plinths. Windows at every available angle offer stunning views across East Devon and out to sea.
In recognition of the China Tower’s origins, the Rolle-Trefusis Arms above the door to the stair turret were skillfully restored. The approach to the tower, along Lady Louisa’s Green Drive, has also been resurfaced.
The China Tower is available for self-catering holidays for up to four people for 3 night weekends, 4 night midweek breaks or by the week with prices starting from £506 for a week.
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