LONDON.- The Historic Houses Association (HHA) and Sotheby's announced that the winning entry of their Restoration Award for 2010 - an award now in its third year - is Wilton House near Salisbury in Wiltshire, England.
ARTKABINETT collector members would enjoy hanging our more historic fine art works on the walls of this historic home!
Wilton's winning project is its spectacular private Dining Room, which is the centerpiece of an extensive programme of exceptional restoration projects at the house in recent years, which has also seen the Library, North Ante Library, Smoking Rooms, Cloisters, Gothic Hall, Inner Courtyard and North Forecourt brought back to their former glory.
Three commendations are also announced by the HHA and Sotheby's: Ballywalter Park in Newtownards, Northern Ireland; Thorpe Hall in Wycliffe, County Durham; and The Stables at Penpont in Brecon, Wales. The previous winners of the award were Markenfield Hall in Yorkshire and Chillington Hall in Staffordshire.
An open letter from the owner, William Herbert, 31, The 18th Earl of Pembroke,
"Every visitor, guest and friend who visits Wilton comments on how friendly and welcoming the house is. I believe that this is because Wilton is first and foremost a home, lived in by my family for over 450 years.
Since 1544 , when the buildings and land were granted by Henry VIII to my ancestor, Sir William Herbert, Wilton House has been inextricably linked to the wider political and artistic circles in England, whilst providing employment and homes for the local estate workers.
The pattern continues today, but against the traditional background, changes are afoot. My father, Henry 17th Earl, initiated a large programme of restoration and improvements, a task which I am now in the process of completing.
Whether you come to stroll around the grounds, watch your children let off steam in the adventure playground, or enjoy the art collection within the House, I believe you are seeing Wilton House in the finest condition it has been in for many years.
I wish you a splendid visit and a happy day out."
The Earl of Pembroke
Wilton House opened its doors to the general public on the 1st May 1951 and this 460 year old building with its history, architecture, art treasures and 21 acres of gardens and parkland has attracted visitors from all over the world.
Wilton House stands on the site of a ninth century nunnery founded by King Alfred. This, in turn, was replaced by a twelfth century Benedictine abbey which, with its surrounding lands, was surrendered at the time of the Dissolution of the monasteries, to King Henry V111, who gave them to William Herbert around 1542. Wilton House has remained in the family since that time and is the home of the Earl of Pembroke.
Around 1632 Isaac De Caus began work on a ambitious project to transform the gardens at Wilton House to include a variety of water features stretching over 300 metres across the river. At the same time plans were drawn up to extend the house to match the dimensions of the garden. However, change in family fortunes forced a scale down of these plans to the present size
Following a fire in 1647 which severely damaged the interior of the south range, John Webb completed the rebuilding of the house. The south front and State Rooms remain a testimony to the architectís skill and the popularity of the Palladian style of architecture in the middle of the seventeenth century. The Single and Double Cube Rooms are recognised as the grandest rooms of this period in England.
The ninth Earl was an architect who, in 1737 built the Palladian Bridge spanning the River Nadder. Between 1801 and 1815 the eleventh Earl had cloisters designed on two levels, at the same time remodelling the north and west sides of the house and creating what is now the main entrance.
Between 1987 and 1992, the 17th Earl commissioned a major restoration project on the inside and outside of the building and to celebrate the completion of this scheme, a new Coat of Arms was carved to replace the much eroded one on the inside of the Clock tower.
The Dining Room at Wilton House
Wilton House, situated near Salisbury in Wiltshire, stands on the site of a 9th century nunnery founded by King Alfred.
This, in turn, was replaced by a 12th century Benedictine abbey which, with its surrounding lands, was surrendered at the time of the Dissolution of the monasteries to King Henry VIII, who gave them to William Herbert around 1542.
Wilton House has remained in the Herbert family since this time and is the home of the Earl of Pembroke. The 460 year old house - with its history, architecture, art treasures and 21 acres of gardens and parkland - today attracts visitors from all over the world.
William Herbert, the 18th Earl of Pembroke, inherited the title and the Wilton estate in 2005, since when - with the assistance of the Wilton House Trustees and the interior designer David Mlinaric - he has initiated an extensive programme of restoration projects.
The overriding aim of all these projects has been to restore the parts of the house that it was felt had lost their historical integrity or which had been neglected during previous structural repairs.
Both traditional and modern methods of restoration have been used and, wherever possible, the work has been undertaken by estate and local craftsmen.* Renovations undertaken, so far, include the Cloisters, the Gothic Hall, the Eastern and Western Cloister Oriel windows, the Courtyard, the Smoking Room, the Library and the North Forecourt, and works are still ongoing in other parts of the house. The sensitive revival of the spectacular private Dining Room forms the centerpiece of the extensive renovations on the estate to date.
Discussing Wilton House's winning entry, Edward Harley, President of the Historic Houses Association, states: ëëLord Pembroke is to be congratulated on the superb restoration of these fine rooms, as well as the courtyards which form part of the setting of this great house, home of his family for over 450 years.
Sensitively but dramatically restored, Wilton House has entered a new chapter in its long history. This great restoration project also reflects more widely the work being carried out by private owners throughout the country to preserve their historic properties.
By attracting increasing numbers of visitors historic houses make a critical contribution to the economies of fragile rural areas.
James Stourton, Chairman of Sotheby's UK, adds: " have watched with increasing admiration as the astonishing scheme of restoration at Wilton has unfolded.
This is one of the outstanding country house renovations of the decade. For many years the Dining Room was used as a games room and general storage room but in 2008 the 18th Earl commenced the major restoration efforts to return it to its former glory. This work has taken local craftsmen many months to complete."