Nick Ball, Director at Chartered Surveyors PMCD, is delighted to confirm the safe hand over of the historic Church Room and Loft at West Wycombe High Street, on behalf of the Parochial Church Council, to internationally renowned Wood Carver and Craftsman Colin Mantripp (www.lillyfee.co.uk).
For several years, the ongoing costs of maintaining and running the iconic 15th Century building have been impacting on the PCC, so various approaches were made to secure property’s future. Unfortunately, those approaches proved fruitless so the Trustees sought the advice of local property consultants, PMCD with the brief to: “…find someone who can use the building in a positive way and ensure the safe keeping of the building and clock for generations to come.”
“Not the usual brief, but with its bell turret, clock, judge’s chair, whipping post and gaol, this is no ordinary property, and the instructions were exactly right!” commented Nick “Standing in the old court room (loft) imagining events over hundreds of years, we need to keep this for everyone.”
After the board went up, and marketing began in earnest, there was a lot of interest, not just from potential purchasers but people concerned for the future of this historic building. Appreciating the uniqueness of the job in hand, around 40 architects active in the locality as well as public and private bodies were approached, and there was also representation on the SPAB website (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings).
“We received offers and spoke to some good people, all incredibly excited about owning the Church Room and Loft, whilst also appreciating the responsibility both financial and socially of being its new custodian.”
In addition to his skills as craftsman and restorer of Listed Buildings, Colin is the grandson of well-known woodcarver and furniture maker Frank Hudson, former resident of West Wycombe and president of the West Wycombe Brass Band! Apart from working in local churches, country houses and Royal Palaces, Colin’s work is clearly visible in High Wycombe High Street, having restored the landmark Red Lion. He has many connections with West Wycombe village, his sisters went to school there, and he had school friends who lived there. His grand-parents, lived at the Apple Orchard, where his cousins started the Apple Orchard trading company. He has worked for the late Sir Frances Dashwood, at West Wycombe Park, and done much carving work, in the past, for Browns Furniture company in Church Lane.
Now residing in Cornwall, in a historic Listed manor house, Colin regularly travels up to the High Wycombe area, continuing to work at the Oxford Colleges and Eton College, as well as working for some special clients both locally, and internationally. The Church Room and Loft will be a base, providing a small studio, which will be opened periodically to local people and clients, for them to the see examples of his work and the fully restored building.
The West Wycombe PCC know how much the Church Room and Loft mean to the local community and are absolutely delighted that they now have a safe and protected future. They have expressed their deep gratitude to Nick Ball and PMCD for their advice and successful efforts, and especially to Colin for his generous spirit and real concern for the conservation of a local gem.