Calverley Old Hall: Architect wins bid to revive medieval manor house

Image: Cowper Griffith Architects

The winner of an international design competition to develop plans to revive historic Calverley Old Hall has been revealed.

The building, inhabited by the Lords of the Manor of Calverley from around 1250 to the 18th century, is partly used as a short breaks haven – but parts of it have fallen into decay and are on the national Heritage At Risk register.

Calverley Old Hall 1
Restoration: Calverley Old Hall. Photo: Mark Stevenson

Cowper Griffith Architects (CGA) has been chosen as the winner of the design competition, which aims to preserve the building as a mixed-use complex centred around holiday accommodation. 75 architecture firms from across the world submitted designs to restore the Calverley site.

The scheme proposed by CGA includes developing the main social spaces of the house to encourage an inspiring co-operative and collective use.

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Run-down Calverley Old Hall. Photo: The Landmark Trust

Calverley Old Hall owners The Landmark Trust, which which rescues buildings at risk of being lost, restores them and makes them available for short breaks, first announced the competition last year.

Director Anna Keay said:

“The winning design stood out for its marriage of real sensitivity to the Grade I listed building with an ingenious approach to creating wonderful, uplifting spaces within and around it.

“We saw a really exciting and imaginative range of proposals for the revival of Calverley through the competition. However, the winning design won the unanimous support of the panel for its marriage of real sensitivity to the grade-one listed building with an ingenious approach to creating wonderful, uplifting spaces within and around it.”

Winning design. Image: Cowper Griffith Architects

Architects say the ambitious design will be ‘informed by the analogy of a worn tapestry, much loved and repaired’.

Chris Cowper, partner and design director at Cowper Griffith Architects, said:

“We are very aware that the success of the project will depend upon our ability to make the social history and architectural detail of the development of the Old Hall discernible and legible, through the expressed evolution of the masonry and worked timbers already exposed.

“We hope to create distinct but contemporary form and detail, subservient to the historic building, whilst enhancing the setting by drawing out and celebrating the tension between the new use and the architectural iterations visible in the historic fabric.”

The Grade 1 Listed hall was first placed on the Heritage at Risk Register back in 1966.

The Trust now hopes to secure funding and start work in 2020.

More details about the designs – and artist’s impressions –  can be found here.

Murderous past: Calverley Old Hall. Photo: Mark Stevenson

Calverley Old Hall history

The building was originally owned by the Calverley family, who came from Scotland in 1100.

The Old Hall has existed in some form since the late 12th century, reaching the height of its status and form by the mid-17th century.

It is a highly evolved site: the main elements are a two-storey, largely 14th-century Solar Block; a late 15th-century Great Hall and Chapel; an early 16th-century Parlour Block, and a 17th century Lodging Block.

After 1665, when the Calverley family vacated the site, it was adapted into multiple uses.  The Dispatch covered more about its murderous past here:

Mark’s History: The murderous past of Calverley Old Hall

It’s one of the buildings in West Leeds which is on Leeds City Council’s ‘at risk’ register.


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