Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Knowle relocation project: saving its heritage

The Victorian Knowle hotel is undoubtedly a piece of heritage.
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: "Impressive 1880s Victorian heritage"
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: the history of the building ... and working in Victorian conditions

This heritage has not been well looked after:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: and the 'managed neglect' of valuable assets

Although this is clearly happening elsewhere:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: and protecing our heritage

The Knowle is recognised as something worth preserving by several bodies:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: SAVE Britain's Heritage >>> "Loss of the Knowle and development of the park would represent a devastating blow to the history and character of Sidmouth."
Futures Forum: Knowle: Victorian hotel and grounds ... application to English Heritage for national listing

And the developer which failed to get planning permission in December also recognises the heritage value of Knowle:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project > Pegasus planning application 16/0872/MFUL >>> EN8 - Significance of Heritage Assets and their Setting

But for the moment at least, this is not relevant - as the threat to the building has been postponed.

And besides, there is in fact some protection given to 'non-designated local heritage assets':
Futures Forum: Locally Listed Heritage Assets: and demolition

The contract (and appendices) now reveal a little more about the intentions of the would-be developer:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: full Pegasus contract published

This is the story from the Herald:

Treasures from Knowle to be saved before demolition

11:40 20 February 2017

A tile at Knowle showing children on a see-saw

Some of Knowle’s historic treasures are set to be donated to Sidmouth Museum and displayed to the public for the first time.

A fire place at Knowle decorated with Delft tiles
East Devon District Council (EDDC) – which currently uses the former hotel as its HQ, but plans to relocate to Exmouth and Honiton – will hand over a rare tiled fireplace and other tiles.
And developer PegasusLife, if goes ahead with its purchase of the site, is set to donate a block from a marble fireplace and a panel of wallpaper to the museum.
The parties made the promises in a contract that was published last month after a drawn-out Freedom of Information battle.
Removal of the artefacts will be carried out before Knowle’s demolition, although PegasusLife’s plans to develop the site into a retirement community were refused in December.

The initials of Richard Napoleon Thornton on a fireplace at Knowle, his former home
The Sidmouth Delftware Tiles Group was formed to manage the project.
Acting chairman David Jenkinson said: “As part of Sidmouth’s heritage, these artefacts should be conserved to enrich our future.
“The National Maritime Museum, the Dutch Tile Museum, and the UK’s Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society have variously commented on the value of saving these Knowle treasures.
“EDDC is not equipped either to display them to the public or to protect them. Sidmouth Museum is a more appropriate home on both counts.”

A tile depicting a purple ribbon
Research has shown Knowle’s tiled fireplace is a rare survivor of a British enterprise by Dutch pottery makers the Ravesteyn Brothers.
They had been made aware of British interest in handmade artefacts by William Morris, the famous Victorian designer.
The Ravesteyns’ tiles in the distinctive blue-and-white Delftware style can be found elsewhere at Knowle in an office.
The property also boasts a marble fireplace installed by Richard Napoleon Thornton, a generous benefactor in Sidmouth, who lived there from 1867 to 1876.

A tile at Knowle
PegasusLife promised to donate a block from the fireplace with his initials to Sidmouth Museum.
Visitors to the council chamber may be familiar with the wallpaper, AWN Pugin’s Gothic Lily, which is part of his design for the House of Lords. His original woodblocks were used to print Knowle’s wallpaper in 1970.
The work of removal and re-installation in the museum will be undertaken by the conservation specialist Andy French of Up-Exe.
A grant from Sidmouth Decorative and Fine Arts Society will contribute to the cost.

Treasures from Knowle to be saved before demolition - News - Sidmouth Herald


Mary Walden-Till said...

Why is only a block from the fireplace to be saved and not the whole fireplace? It seemed strange to me when I first read it.
It is not as if the fireplace could be sold for reuse with a piece missing!

Jeremy Woodward said...

Thanks, Mary,
Firstly, as far as I see this, things are not going to happen for a long time anyway - simply because the developer didn't get planning permission. So, for the time being, the Knowle Hotel is not going to be demolished and so these heritage assets will remain where they are.
As for Richard Napoleon Thornton, the little bit of research I did for the bid to have the building given Grade II listing showed that his father was so grateful to Bonaparte for helping his fortunes at Lloyds during the Napoleonic Wars that he named his son after the Emperor.
Do a search under 'Thornton' at: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=3012282&partId=1
And: http://www.truthaboutlloyds.com/fraud/myth82.html

So, ripping this bit of history out of context would be a terrible thing to do - as it was Thornton Junior who extended the Knowle to much of its current appearance.
See: http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/zoo-posh-hotel-curious-history-sidmouth-s-knowle/story-26671264-detail/story.html

But of course, if in all its philistine glory the District Council allows the Knowle to be bulldozed, then these gems must be saved.