A project to transform one of Shropshire’s oldest and most iconic buildings is now complete.
The major renovation of Bishop Percy’s House in Bridgnorth has just finished after four years of meticulous planning and careful restoration work.
Vic Johnson, of Johnson Design Partnership, who drew up designs to convert the 16th century half timbered property in Cartway into a tea room and holiday apartments for owners Reg and Maria Allan, is delighted with the finished result.
“The premises was built in 1580 and has been a Grade 1 listed building since 1949 so this beautiful property presented us with some serious challenges – but it was definitely one of the most exciting we have tackled,” explains Vic, whose expanding architectural practice is based next to the Severn Valley Railway in Bridgnorth.
The house, made from boats’ timber, was one of the few properties of its type to survive the great fire of Bridgnorth in 1646 and was the birthplace of Thomas Percy, the Bishop of Dromore.
The site has history stemming back to medieval times but over the years it has been home to many people including the Bridgnorth Boys Club from the 1940s until 2003 and was empty and derelict for many years after that.
The project has also included the construction of two separate contemporary homes overlooking the river which are due to be finished by April. “Bishop Percy’s House is a striking town centre landmark and we are thrilled with the way it has been brought back to life. We hope that its revival, and the creation of the striking new homes next door, represent a regeneration of interest in the Bridgnorth quayside,” says Vic.
“Obviously as this is a Grade I listed building we worked carefully with the conservation officers and it was a great honour to be so closely involved in its transformation as I am Bridgnorth born and bred and I saw it fall into disrepair.
“The main premises were completely stripped back and acoustic and thermal upgrades made to the fabric of the timber frame.
“There was a huge range of special requirements relating to the new insertions. We had to design and detail a partition system which would not materially harm the old building and could effectively be removed in the future, whilst achieving the acoustic and constructional requirements of modern building regulations.
“In addition, developing a fire strategy with a specialist fire consultant was a very meticulous and challenging process when you are dealing with an ancient building made of wood!
“However, we successfully achieved everything that was needed and are very proud of the finished result.
“This is an important initiative for Bridgnorth and for Johnson Design Partnership as it incorporates refurbishment and remodelling of the historical building and an innovative, modern element to the rear – it is a bold blend of ancient and modern.”
Vic stresses that one of the biggest challenges was the need to achieve planning consent for the two ultra contemporary houses which required an intense documented justification and development of a seriously considered scheme with a provenance.
“During the research process we uncovered the fact that Trevithick manufactured steam engines on the opposite bank of the Severn and sent them down river ultimately to South America!
“Also there was a smelting plant on site so this, and others facts we discovered, led to us developing a marine design for the homes which echoed the metallic history of the area.
“So the new properties are steel framed buildings with copper cladding, offering two environments – one shrouded in history the other opening out onto the river,” Vic added.
Proprietor Maria Allen commented: “After four years of liaising with architects at Johnson Design, the planners, conservation officers and having every survey possible Bishop Percy’s House is now open to the public as a tea room and two luxury holiday apartments.
“This lovely 16th century Grade I listed building and previous home to Bridgnorth Boys Club has undergone complete sympathetic restoration to be brought back to life for all to see and enjoy.
“I am thrilled at the outcome of this difficult project and to have launched a business and apartments to provide jobs and an interest to the Bridgnorth community.”
The house was formerly opened on March 3 by the mayor of Bridgnorth. Pictures and artefacts from the site’s past are now displayed in the tea room, which also has an outdoor seating area.
The holiday accommodation will be let to tourists who want to stay in one of Shropshire’s most historic settings.