Live and Completed Project

The Rotunda Restoration, Halswell Somerset
for Private Client

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Halswell House and its ancillary buildings and structures sit within what was once a C18th Landscape garden. Within this setting Sir Charles Kemeys Tynte, who succeeded to Halswell in 1740, reworked the layout of gardens, buildings and ornamental structures, seeking to naturalise an earlier formal arrangement as was the spirit of the time. Sir Charles was a contemporary of Coplestone Warre Bampfylde, who resided at nearby Hestercombe House, and historic correspondence exists between the two owners relating to their respective landscaping and building works.

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Thread’s work on the landscape structures to date includes the completed restoration of the Grade II listed Rotunda, and inverted cone Ice-House below, and ongoing works to interpret and restore the Grotto and bridge.

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Although the Rotunda structure was in poor repair with no dome remaining, due to the classical nature of the building, its mathematical rigour and the adherence of its design to the rules of classicism, and backed up by archival and evidential material, we were able to soundly propose the form and detail of the restoration of the new structure. The restoration was completed by Corbel Conservation Ltd and celebrated with the local community on the 14th November 2014.

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This work has served to reintroduce a key landmark of the designed landscape which had been lost for decades. For the current owner this is a symbol of his intent in terms of reuniting the house and its historic landscape, the implementation of quality workmanship, the application of historical delicacy, and the reintroduction of public access and enjoyment.

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The Grotto project is now live.

For more information on this estate please refer to The Halswell Park Trust –

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Live Project

Halswell House, Goathurst, Somerset
for Private Client

the most important house of its date in the county” Pevsener on Halswell

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This Grade I Listed property is fronted by a 1689 Mansion House, built by Sir Halswell Tynte, behind which sits an series of earlier phases of construction, thought to be dating from 1536. The buildings and surrounding landscape form a property of immense architectural interest and significant size.

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Under previous ownerships the property has been used for a variety purposes over the years, including a private home, PoW Camp, school and a series of apartments. However, in 1999 Halswell was considered in such a state of disrepair that English Heritage’s listed it on the Buildings at Risk Register. Since then the buildings’ fortunes improved with a partial restoration by the previous owner, but it was also divided into separate apartments and a wedding venue. The property was finally left vacant in 2013 with water penetrating the structure and with its C18th Landscape and many associated outbuildings in different ownership.

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Thread are currently working with the new owner to progress opening up works which are needed to assess the condition and extent of repairs required prior progressing what will be a significant repair and restoration project. These works are all in close consultation with English Heritage, Somerset County Archaeologists, local and County Conservation Officers, Structural Engineers and Archaeologists.

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When dealing with a complex building project such as this a clear understanding of the implications of all decisions, in terms of the building fabric, time and cost, is invaluable to all parties. Our collaborative targeted work will enable a full and thorough understanding of the building and its structure on which future proposals and costs can be based.

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Bath University Study Visit by Masters Students in the Conservation of Historic Buildings and the Conservation of Historic Gardens and Cultural Landscapes

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On the 18th March 2015, masters students, studying the Conservation of Historic Buildings and the Conservation of Historic Gardens and Cultural Landscapes, from Bath University, visited Halswell Park.

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The visit, organised with the courses’ Director of Studies, Dr Michael Forsyth and Dr. Marion Harney respectively, was a unique opportunity for students to visit a building and landscape that is currently undergoing thorough opening up works, archaeological excavation and analysis, fabric recording, and targeted investigation.

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The site is a live construction site and so the visit began with a health and safety briefing and induction. The students were then introduced to the history of the site and to the present scope of works before being given tours of the site by Mark Lidster of Corbel Conservation (, Ann Manders of the Somerset Buildings Preservation Trust and ourselves. The tours covered the inside of the Tudor Range; the external scaffold and roof works; the rotunda; ice house and grotto; and the wider designed landscape and outbuildings that form Halswell Park.

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Most commonly study visits are conducted at completed projects where the answers to both practical and philosophical questions have already been decided and acted upon. As the current phase of works is focussed on the opening-up and investigation works, the estate is still actively producing new evidence and presenting new questions relating to its origin, evolution of architectural detail and previous uses. Therefore Halswell provided an rare but important opportunity for the students to be exposed to the realities of a complex and interwoven project and to meet the highly collaborative team working on it.

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Feedback from the visit was very positive and we look forward to welcoming the students and staff back next year.

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Message From Claire

On the 14th November Cerys and I were delighted to attend a celebration at Halswell house to celebrate tree planting at the Temple of Harmony in the C18th Pleasure Gardens of Mill Wood, and the opening of the newly restored 1757 Rotunda – our first project in the grounds of Halswell House.

The celebration, a lovely afternoon with fine sunny weather, signified the new owner, Edward Strachan’s intention to both unite, conserve and restore this important historic estate and gardens. This project is ongoing and we are delighted to be involved in the works to the house and surrounding garden structures, and to be working in parallel with the Mill Wood Team to unite Halswell Park.

We will post updates as the project progresses and additional information can be found at:


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 “Halswell has found it’s champion” proclaimed MARCUS BINNEY of SAVE, as the walls of HALSWELL HOUSE filled with applause for new owner EDWARD STRACHAN. For the first time in many years, the atmosphere bore an element of a new beginning.

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To celebrate his 50th birthday, Mr. Strachan acted as host to a full-scale event – opening the house to both invested parties, such as the Halswell Park Trust, and members of the local public. The day was marked with a series of red-tape events – reintroducing several of Goathurst’s local landmarks, such as the Temple of Harmony and Halswell House itself.

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On a sunny yet crisp afternoon, a public tree planting was organised at the Temple of Harmony, highlighting the importance of breathing new life into the land and preserving it’s heritage. Together with Estate Manager ROY BOLTON, they afforded their time to everyone present; engaging in discussions and highlighting the clear intention behind the entire project.

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The presence of people such as:

Simon Robertshaw & Kim Auston
of English Heritage

Bob Croft
of the Somerset County Archaeologist

Derek Gibson OBE
from the Halswell Park Trust

Russell Lillford
of the Somerset Buildings Preservation Trust

– only further highlighted the important role this estate plays, and the heavy expectations that come with it. Mr. Strachan, however, is very much up to the task, and has a clear outline for the future development of the site.

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Everyone was then invited back to the house for lunch and introduced to the men who have been working around the clock to make everything happen. DAVID MARSH, CHRIS STONES, MARK LIDSTER and the entire crew deserve every amount of praise for the dedication, professionalism and, most importantly, passion that they have shown from day one. It is a true testament to the people who work behind the scenes when such daunting deadlines are made and events go as smoothly as this. This is a long-term project, and they are definitely the right men for it.

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Everyone was gathered into the main hall right after lunch, for birthday greetings and Edward’s big speech. His devoted wife and two children by his side, he emanated confidence and ambition as he spoke of his vision for the estate and his desire to collaborate with everyone involved.

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Next was the opening of the Rotunda, around 110 metres to the northeast of the house. Originally built in 1775 and still standing firm. Looking back from it, you can see the Tudor side of Halswell, currently covered in scaffolding and under renovation but, once finished, will no doubt be a sight to behold.

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The opening of the Rotunda was marked by an all-round cutting of red tape, followed by the presentation of a commemorative plaque, and the day rounded off with the sharing of birthday cake.

Halswell does indeed have a new Champion in Edward Strachan, and the future looks very bright for “the most important house of it’s date in the country.”


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