Regarding the proposal to demolish the former Blakeney Rectory at 8 Wiveton Road, and to replace it with a glass and corten steel structure – PF/16/1417 – Iain and I thought you be interested in new information uncovered in the Church of England archives by our architectural historian, Oliver Bradbury.
We already knew that the Rectory was commissioned c. 1924 by the Rev David Lee-Elliot, rector of Blakeney, as a successor to what is now the Old Rectory. Oliver has now identified the architects responsible: Edward Holtom & John Page of Fakenham, Holt and Blakeney.
Attached to this email is Holtom & Page’s plan for the north elevation of the Rectory. This is only one page from a treasure-trove of drawings, plans and correspondence discovered by Oliver. His full report on the architectural history of the Rectory is due on Friday 13 January.
As some of you will recognise already, the connection with John Page is particularly exciting. A Blakeney-born architect, Page was responsible for many of the buildings that give our present-day village its distinctive local character.
By way of example, Page designed the Blakeney War Memorial, probably including the two adjacent ‘Memorial Cottages’ (1921) and Pye’s Garage in the New Road, Blakeney (1923). He also worked on the following: Priory House (modifications); Highfield House; Mansard; White Friars (the original building, now rebuilt); several houses in Coronation Lane; Old Garden Cottage on the Quay; several barn conversions along the Quay; houses along the Morston Road; No1, Kettle Hill (remodelling); and a couple of others on the Langham Road. Indeed, he may well be responsible for a modest extension to the Old Rectory c. 1924. The village that so many residents and visitors love today – a place where old blends gracefully with new – is, in no small part, Page’s achievement.
Page also painted the famous and much-loved portrait of the coxswain George Long (c. 1920) that hangs in Blakeney church.
Further afield, Page was responsible for the ‘Think and Thank’ screen at St Andrews, Great Ryburgh (1921), and executed two major campaigns of restoration at East Barsham (1922, 1936), documented by Avrary Tipping in Country Life (1924) and praised by Pevsner as both ‘conscientious and judicious’. These same qualities can be seen in his design for the Rectory, which is not only an attractive late Arts & Crafts building in its own right, but responds with tact and sensitivity to the older buildings nearby, such as the church of St Nicholas (Grade I), the parish school (Grade II) and the Old Rectory (Grade II*).
Our architectual historian Oliver Bradbury will, we believe, be able to demonstrate both that the Rectory was designed specifically as a response to nearby buildings of significance, and also that, judging from the elevations and floorplans, it is a remarkably intact survival of a purpose-built, architect-designed 1920s parsonage.
These new discoveries make a strong case for preventing the demolition of the former Rectory.
We have also been in touch with the Twentieth Century Society and SAVE Britain’s Heritage, and we are hopeful that they will be able to support our campaign to save the Rectory. We are also exploring whether it might be possible to secure listed building status in order to safeguard the building.
If you share our alarm at the idea that this significant building might be destroyed, please email the case officer, Ms Jamie Smith, at Jamie.Smith@north-norfolk.gov.uk – a very short email setting out your objections will be a great help. Even if you have emailed already, a quick message to Ms Smith regarding what we now know about the architectural significance of the building would be useful. Do encourage other friends and neighbours to express their objections too, forwarding this email if you think it appropriate.
One point you might wish to highlight relates to the NNDC’s own planning policy, especially Policy EN8 – Protecting and Enhancing the Historic Environment:
“Proposals involving the demolition of non-listed buildings will be assessed against the contribution to the architectural or historic interest of the area made by that building. Buildings which make a positive contribution to the character or appearance of an area should be retained.”
So if you feel that the former Rectory makes an important contribution to the ‘architectural and historic interest’ of Blakeney and to its ‘character or appearance’, this argument would be particularly relevant to NNDC’s own stated guidelines.
Finally, warmest thanks to all of you who have already made your voices heard regarding the Rectory. Please keep at it! As of today, something like 20 objections to the demolition, all from people who live or work locally, have been posted on the website, with more to come, but we need to keep the momentum going ahead of the council meeting which is currently due to take place on Thursday 19 January.
As you all know, North Norfolk’s magic depends, in large part, on its distinctive architectural heritage, of which the former Blakeney rectory is an integral part. Please do all you can to ensure that this handsome old building, created by a local architect more than 90 years ago and now very dear to the hearts of local people, remains to be cherished by future generations.