25 year park restoration wins national award

Restored building in Gunton Park, north Norfolk, which has been recognised with an architectural award

The 25-year restoration of Gunton Park has been recognised at a national awards ceremony - Credit: The Landscape Agency

The 25-year restoration project of Gunton Park in Norfolk has been recognised with a national award.

The 1,200 acre park was named the winner in the 'restoration of a Georgian garden or landscape category' at the 2021 Georgian Group Architectural Awards, which was sponsored by Savills and held in London earlier this week.

The awards, which are now in their 17th year, celebrate those who have demonstrated the vision and commitment to restore Georgian buildings and landscapes, and create new work in the spirit of the Georgian era across the UK. 

The ceremony was held at RIBA's headquarters in London and the awards were presented by John Goodall, architectural editor at Country Life. 

Black and white photo of Gunton Park, Norfolk, which has just won an award for its restoration

Gunton Park, Norfolk, which has been restored over two decades - Credit: The Landscape Agency

Gunton Park was originally part of the Gunton Estate, which dates back to the 12th century.

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In the late 18th to early 19th centuries, its gardens were developed to national acclaim under head gardener William Allen. It's believed that Humphry Repton, who also landscaped nearby Sheringham Park, offered minor improvements to the design and by the mid-19th century, the estate covered around 17,000 acres.

By the 1970s, much of the land, which includes Grade II* listed landscape and 14 listed structures, had been sold off in parcels.

Black and white photo of Gunton Park in Norfolk before its restoration

Gunton Park has been the subject of an ambitious restoration - Credit: The Landscape Agency

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Kit Martin and Ivor Braka, both clients on the project, have been slowly buying back the farmland to recreate the original parkland, along with landscape architects John Phibbs, of Debois Landscape Survey Group, and Patrick James, of The Landscape Agency.

The winning schemes were chosen from nearly 40 entries and other winners included Radbourne Hall in Derbyshire, Cobham Dairy in Kent and Wolverton Hall Folly in Worcestershire.

Aerial view over Gunton Park, Norfolk, which has just been restored to its parkland roots

Gunton Park, which extends to 1,200 acres, has been restored - Credit: The Landscape Agency

Crispin Holborow, country director of Savills Private Office, and member of the judging panel, said: “We see on a daily basis how much Georgian architecture appeals to our clients. It is a significant part of our heritage and its preservation is immensely important, which is why we are honoured to return as sponsors of the Georgian Group Architectural Awards."

Sheringham Hall in Norfolk was also highly commended in the 'restoration of a Georgian country house' category, which was won by Radbourne Hall in Derbyshire.

The project at Sheringham Hall, which was also originally designed by Humphry Repton, involved returning rooms to their original use and restoring the gardens and outbuildings.

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