TONIC

Birdcombe Court, Wraxall

From the first records of a mass being held here in 1331, this unique medieval manor house has been reworked constantly - for better and for worse.

Our brief was to conserve, rationalise, refurbish, reveal and sensitively upgrade.

LOCATION / REGION

North Somerset

TYPE OF PROJECT

Grade II* Listed - Renovation and extension

TONIC SERVICES

Concept design through to completion.

SHARE PROJECT
  • LOCATION / REGION : North Somerset
  • TYPE OF PROJECT : Grade II* Listed - Renovation and extension
  • TONIC SERVICES : Concept design through to completion.

The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were not kind to Birdcombe – successive alterations and extensions confused and obscured the historical form of the plan. Rich soot-blackened, oak roof structures were concealed behind drab, flat ceilings and subdivision had truncated the great hall and created a labyrinth of unremarkable rooms and passageways. 

Since the fourteenth century, Birdcombe Court has been a feature of the landscape – nestled into the side of a valley to the west of Bristol with dense ancient woodland as a backdrop to its distinctive ogee domed tower. The nearby discovery of an iron-age bronze torque, mesolithic encampment and Roman ruins, however, reveal far longer inhabitation of this site. 

RIBA Chartered Architectural Practice delivering contemporary design, and re-use, refurbishment and extension of historic and listed buildings

The reordering of the plan – placing the Kitchen and Dining areas on the first floor – establishes a new flow through the whole house and ensures that the principal spaces are used and appreciated daily. A light touch was applied to the works here, however – stabilising and maintaining rather than restoring, ensuring that the special atmosphere wasn’t disturbed.

Delicately reversing past works enabled the full drama and scale of the property to be once again appreciated. Previously hidden dovecotes, masons marks and superstitious symbolism hinted at the life and fears of successive waves of occupants. A new oak-framed addition shares the language of its adjacent ancient ancestor discloses the original grandeur of the hall and unravels the internal circulation.