Country Life has once again delved into its little black book and fully updated this list of the finest architects in Britain – an indispensable guide if you're considering serious work on your home.
If you are, the golden rule is to look for someone with a track record in country-house projects of a scale and type similar to yours. Interview two or three, ideally on site so that you can see how the architect responds to the location as well as to you. Are they enthusiastic? Do they pick up on the cues of the landscape? Do you like them?
‘We often work with people to move forward to a “feasibility-sketch” stage, to make sure the relationship is working,’ says John Tehan of Smallwood Architects.
‘Even if clients are clear about what they want, most people will need to stand back and think about things once the process has started.’
He stresses the necessity of taking the time at this stage, because any changes later may be too late. ‘The system in this country means that your ideas need to be clear by the time you go to planning; there isn’t really the luxury of reconsidering later, because you’ve already had to commit in order to get permission,’ he explains.
An architect’s fee can vary, sometimes a fixed sum for a specific job, such as a feasibility sketch or a masterplan, or a percentage related to the cost of the build. This will vary depending upon the scope of the architect’s services and the scale, complexity and type of the project, but 10%–15% (on top of the build cost, plus VAT) may be considered a reasonable rule of thumb.
Highly respected experts in traditional architecture and renowned for significant new country houses, refurbishments and considered alterations to listed properties, this practice is working on the extension of a listed house on a country estate in Berkshire and a new country villa in Hampshire.
01962 84384; www.adamarchitecture.com
Conservation architect Lachlan Stewart leads a practice known for both new houses designed in the Scottish vernacular and for the historic restoration and repair of listed buildings, which include the renovation of the Rodel House on the Isle of Harris.
01862 850100; www.anta.co.uk
The talented Mr Pentreath runs a small, but perfectly formed interior-design studio, an architectural and masterplanning practice and, with Bridie Hall, the cornucopia of decorative delights that is the Pentreath & Hall shop. Recent projects include the interior restoration of the early-18th-century Chettle House in Dorset and the interior design of the former Hardy Amies townhouse on Savile Row, W1, as a flagship store for the tailoring services of Hackett.
020–7430 2424; www.benpentreath.com
Benjamin Tindall Architects
With more than 40 years’ experience, Ben-jamin Tindall continues to run his Edinburgh practice today. Renowned for repairs and alterations to historic buildings, the firm offers a full range of services, from landscaping to the design of light fittings, furniture and ironmongery. Notable projects include the restoration of a significant Arts-and-Crafts house in the Channel Islands and ongoing work to Bonnington House at the Jupiter Artland sculpture park, Edinburgh.
0131–220 3366; www.benjamintindallarchitects.co.uk
Craig Hamilton Architects
A clear focus on Classical architecture has earned this Radnorshire-based practice plenty of plaudits. The company specialises in the design of new country houses, including one for The Prince of Wales in Carmarthenshire, as well as sacred and monumental architecture.
01982 553312; www.craighamiltonarchitects.com
Donald Insall Associates
This leading architectural practice, now 62 years old with eight UK offices, specialises in the care, repair and adaptation of historic buildings and the design of new ones, including private houses, on sensitive sites. Recent projects include the restoration of an Elizabethan house in Wiltshire, conservation at one of the grandest Georgian country houses in Britain, Wentworth Woodhouse, South Yorkshire, and a new entrance pavilion at Caernarfon Castle, Gwynedd.
020–7245 9888; www.donaldinsallassociates.co.uk
Francis Johnson and Partners
This Yorkshire practice works across the UK, specialising in substantial country houses in the Classical tradition and the conservation of historic buildings, including a new house on a country estate in North Yorkshire and the renovation of a late-17th-century house in Suffolk. Established in 1937 by the late, great architect Francis Johnson, the practice is today run by Malcolm Stather and Digby Harris.
01262 674043; www.francisjohnson-architects.co.uk
Francis Terry and Associates
Francis Terry is admired for his ability to design and restore country houses with a deep understanding of the beauty and balanced proportions of Classical architecture. He founded his own close-knit practice four years ago, after working for his eminent architect father Quinlan Terry for 20 years. He is the current chair of the Traditional Architecture Group, a talented artist and author of an inspiring monthly blog.
01206 580528; www.ftanda.co.uk
Giles Quarme Architects
Passionate about the preservation of historic buildings — and chair of the Ancient Monuments Society to boot — Giles Quarme runs a London-based practice known for its sensitive renovations and design of new buildings within Conservation Areas. Current projects include the restoration of The Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore, Windsor, and of the Bayswater house where J. M. Barrie wrote Peter Pan.
020–7582 0748; www.quarme.com
Groves-Raines Architects Studios
Specialists in the conservation and sustainable re-use of historic buildings in Scotland and Ireland for more than 40 years, this Edinburgh-based practice is now run by son of the founders Gunnar Groves-Raines and is developing a reputation for progressive new-builds. Recent projects include the restoration of properties on the magnificent Wildland estates in the Scottish Highlands.
0131–467 7777; www.grovesraines.com
Hoare, Ridge & Morris
Mark Hoare and Ted Ridge run the creative practice they founded with Charles Morris, designing alterations and additions to country houses, as well as new buildings with tradi-tional character and high energy performance. The pair’s understanding of the relationship between house and garden and the flow of rooms means that their work typically extends to detailed interior and landscape design. They recently purchased an old club in a Georgian townhouse near Framlingham Castle, Suffolk, which they are converting into a creative workspace and cafe.
01728 688747; www.hrma.co.uk
Ian Adam-Smith Architects
English country-house specialist Ian Adam-Smith says he likes to create ‘houses that look as if they have evolved and are suitable for the way we like to live now’. As an example, he cites a listed Georgian house in Hampshire, where he is linking it to adjoining outbuildings and adding a contemporary kitchen pavilion. He has clients across West Sussex, Hampshire, Surrey, Berkshire and London.
01428 644644; www.ianadam-smith.co.uk
John Simpson Architects
A leading proponent of New Classicism, the eminent John Simpson is known for both residential and institutional designs, particularly educational buildings at Eton College and Cambridge and Oxford universities. He is also deeply involved in ‘creating beautiful places where people would enjoy living’, which currently include a village on the outskirts of Gloucester.
020–7405 1285; www.johnsimpsonarchitects.com
Johnston Cave Associates
This practice first came to wide attention with the design of a flint-clad castle at Wormsley Park, Buckinghamshire, for Sir John Paul Getty in 1987. Today, Rory Duncan and Chris Lawler run a company known for the sensitive design of substantial buildings in established settings and the integration of new designs and modern services into old country houses. The firm’s current projects include the restoration of a Grade I-listed house in Richmond-upon-Thames and new country residences in Hampshire and Berkshire.
01865 865165; johnstoncave.com
Julian Bicknell & Associates
Julian Bicknell’s forte is traditional architecture, including grand country houses in the Classical style. He has recently completed the design of some 50 traditional English brick houses, varied in style, that make up the new Magna Carta Park at Runnymede, Berkshire.
020–8891 1001; www.julianbicknell.co.uk
Lindsay Buchan Architects
Country Life photographed the Arts-and-Crafts house Muirfield Gate, East Lothian, previously known as The Pleasance, in 1907, then again when it was reconstructed by Lindsay Buchan a century later. Now, Mr Buchan is at work on further buildings on the Pleasance estate, overlooking the Firth of Forth, as part of his focus on the considered refurbishment, extension and construction of houses throughout Scotland.
0131–554 9008; www.lindsaybuchan.co.uk
Marc Deaves Architect
An imaginative country-house expert who handles a small number of projects per year, Marc Deaves is currently at work on a Wiltshire rectory that dates from the 13th century, as well as projects in London’s Cadogan and Grosvenor estates. He consults on all aspects of historic-building restoration and consents, frequently advising clients pre-purchase on the material condition of a historic house and its potential to become a warm and comfortable home suitable for modern life. He is also strong on the use of tried and tested alternative-energy technologies.
07970 458025; www.marcdeaves.com
Nick Cox Architects
This Oxfordshire-based, mid-sized practice, run by Nick Cox, is known for the repair and conservation of important historic buildings, including Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire, and the Blenheim Estates. It also undertakes the design of private houses and is currently working on some substantial country homes in the Cotswolds, with a focus on sustainability.
01869 238092; www.nickcoxarchitects.co.uk
Peregrine Bryant Architects
Renowned for scholarly restorations of his-toric buildings, Peregrine Bryant’s practice recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. Winner of the Georgian Group 2019 Best New Work in the Classical Tradition award for work on a Grade II*-listed house in Chelsea in London, the practice is also known for restorations at Crichel House in Dorset and for its decade-long, phased refurbishment of the Long Wards, origin-ally designed by Sir Christopher Wren, at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, London SW1.
020–7384 2111; www.peregrine-bryant.co.uk
Philip Hughes Associates
Established in 1982 by chartered building surveyor Philip Hughes, the practice offers both surveying and architectural services, counting the National Trust and the Churches Conservation Trust among its clients. Recent projects include breathing new life into St Giles House, Dorset, owned by the Earl of Shaftesbury, and the award-winning transformation of the Grade I-listed Shire Hall in the same county from council offices to Historic Courthouse Museum.
01963 824240; www.pha-building-conservation.co.uk
Ptolemy Dean Architects
Historic-building conservationist, author and TV presenter Ptolemy Dean is the 19th Surveyor of the Fabric of Westminster Abbey, a post once held by Sir Christopher Wren. His current projects include the reinstatement of Westminster Abbey’s long-destroyed Great Sacristy, following its 13th-century footprint, and the remaking of lost rooms, burnt out in a fire in the 1940s, at Castle Howard, North Yorkshire.
020–7378 7714; ptolemydean.co.uk
This internationally renowned architectural and heritage-consultancy practice has 12 studios across the UK, plus others in Hong Kong, Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart. Its forte is bringing contemporary design solutions to historic environments, such as Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts, once Hong Kong’s Central Police Station compound, as well as the restoration of the Victorian Manchester Town Hall and the repair and restoration of the 18th-century Stowe House, Buckinghamshire.
020–7397 7171; www.purcelluk.com
Quinlan Terry Architects
An expert in designing new Classical buildings that fit so comfortably in their surroundings that they look as if they have always been there, Quinlan Terry heads a practice known for private and public work. Current projects include country residences in the Home Counties and South of England, the recently completed Wolverton Folly, Worcestershire, for Nicholas Coleridge, and Classical galleries for St Ebbe’s Church in Oxford.
01206 323186; www.qftarchitects.com
Russell Taylor Architects
A well-regarded Georgian and Regency expert, Russell Taylor has a deep understanding of the Classical language of architecture. From offices in London and Cornwall, the practice undertakes new-build, extension and alteration projects across the South of England, including London townhouses, country houses and estate buildings.
020–7261 1984; www.rtarchitects.co.uk
Particularly well known for his passionate conservation of historic properties in Bath, where he is based, Simon Morray-Jones has almost 40 years of experience of restoration, conservation and new-builds. Recent projects include The Newt hotel and spa in Somerset, the restoration of a country estate in Leicestershire and the refurbishment of the listed townhouse museum at No 1, Royal Crescent in Bath.
01225 787900; www.sm-j.com
Simpson & Brown Architects
This leading Edinburgh-based practice works across the country, specialising in scholarly conservation work, the creative adaptation of existing buildings and the design of new buildings, also including archaeological contracts via its Addyman Archaeology arm. The company recently worked on Barnbougle Castle on the shores of the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh, on the new Torabhaig whisky distillery on the Isle of Skye and a new visitor centre at St Albans Cathedral, Hertfordshire.
0131–555 4678; www.simpsonandbrown.co.uk
A strong player in the world of country houses, this practice is known for the remodelling of historic houses and the building of new ones, with a good understanding of what it is that makes for successful 21st-century country living. The firm also works on medium to large townhouses, across the UK and Ireland.
020–7376 5744; www.smallwoodarchitects.co.uk
Stuart Martin Architects
Based in Dorset, this practice specialises in one-off houses and conservation work across southern England, including London. Recent projects comprise the careful restor-ation of a medieval hall house in Surrey, combined with sensitive extensions, and a remote 16th-century house in Somerset, including the reinstatement of farm buildings found on an old map, and the incorporation of green technologies to allow the house to be run as close to an off-grid state as possible.
01935 83543; www.stuartmartinarchitects.com
Thomas Croft Architects
Strong on contemporary interventions in historic buildings and the design of new buildings in traditional settings, Tom Croft heads a practice currently working on the remodelling of two sets in Albany, Piccadilly, W1, and the reimagining of Robert Adam’s most important remaining townhouse in London, dating from 1790. He counts Paul McCartney and various other A-list musicians among his residential clients.
020-8962 0066; www.thomascroft.com
This Cotswold-based practice works almost exclusively on private residential projects, particularly on new-build country houses, as well as pool houses and leisure buildings, such as Avalon at Broughton Hall in Yorkshire. Unusually, it has expertise in designing contemporary and traditional houses and an award-winning reputation for both.
01285 888150; www.yiangou.com
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