Historic hall will be restored to famed creator’s original designs

James Paine's South Ormsby Hall facade design, circa. 1750.
James Paine's South Ormsby Hall facade design, circa. 1750.

The first country house designed by renowned Georgian architect James Paine is to be restored using his original designs as part of an ambitious project to regenerate a historic rural estate.

Detailed plans were revealed at public exhibition earlier this month for the restoration of South Ormsby Hall and 150 acres of historic parkland and gardens in the Wolds.

The estate says it has an ‘ambitious vision’ for the area with plans for new community and leisure facilities being created as well as new spaces for businesses, as it seeks to create a modern and dynamic rural economy while enhancing the natural environment.

As part of those plans, the estate’s 150 acre parkland and Grade II* listed South Ormsby Hall are to be restored, returning features designed by the hall’s original architect, James Paine in 1750-1752.

The public exhibition at South Ormsby on Thursday March 14 gave visitors and local residents the chance to see more information on these plans and speak to the architects, planners and conservationists who created them.

More than a hundred people attended the exhibition, with 71% of people surveyed reported to have expressed their support for the plans.

South Ormsby Hall was the first country house to be entirely designed by James Paine, who went on to work on some of Britain’s best-known country houses including Custworth Hall, Thorndon Hall, New Wardour Castle, Nostell Priory, Kedleston Hall and the magnificent park bridge and grand stables of Chatsworth House.

When James Paine built and designed South Ormsby Hall, it included a pediment across the whole principle facade; a feature he included in all of his most famous designs.

The parapet was removed in 1803 when an additional storey was built on top of the hall, with a parapet taking its place.

The additional storey was later removed in 1927, but the parapet was left in place, significantly changing the hall’s appearance.

Now, a team of restoration experts and conservation architects are working to restore the ‘Paine Pediment’ and restore other original features that have been lost over the centuries.

Conservation architect at Marcus Beale Architects, Daniel Shabetai said: “Physically, South Ormsby Hall is the product of several architects who have made changes to it over the centuries, but not always for the better.

“The hall was Paine’s first country house that he completely designed, but the building looked very different then to the way it looks today.

“Paine’s design for the hall had a pediment across the entire front elevation of the building. This classical feature was one he included in his later buildings but he never designed another building where the pediment extended over the entire main frontage.

“The pediment was removed from the hall in 1803 when another architect, Peter Atkinson made several changes, including adding an extra storey on top of the main building. That extra storey lasted until 1927 when Swann & Norman Architects removed it and installed the small parapet which encircles the roof today.

“For the next phase, we hope to remove the parapet and rebuild James Paine’s pediment so the Paine building is much closer to his original design.

We’re working with Historic England on the project and, subject to the relevant permissions, we hope to start construction in 2020.

“In the meantime, we’re researching brick manufacturers to find the right materials for the job and to make sure that the newly built pediment looks like the original brickwork.”

After being the home of the Massingberd-Mundy family for several generations, the estate came under the custodianship of Jon and Jan Thornes in 2016.

Since then, conservationists have been working to prevent the hall, which is listed on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register, from deteriorating. Thanks to their work, the hall is now watertight, preventing further damage to the structure.

Estate spokesman, Damien Howard-Pask, said:“The South Ormsby Estate is an absolutely wonderful part of the Lincolnshire Wolds area of outstanding natural beauty.

“Our overall ambition is to rejuvenate the estate as a great place to live, work, learn and play.

“The renovations, business support and sympathetic development are to form the foundations of our long-term plans for the estate.

“South Ormsby Hall is a local landmark and it’s a major part of the area’s heritage.

“James Paine was one of this country’s most celebrated northern architects and to return the hall so it more closely resembles his original designs will be a real achievement that will bring this hall back to its former glory.”

The entrance hall and principal rooms will be restored to how they would have looked in the 1920s, with paint analysis being used to accurately replicate some of the paint schemes that were used.

Ultimately, the hall and stables will contain six heritage apartments for short stay visitor accommodation along with a private apartment which will be the home of the estate’s custodians.

Once the work is completed, the hall’s most impressive rooms on the ground floor will be open to the public once a month and the main rooms will be available for hire.

Outside, there are plans for a pool house to be built on the footprint of a garden structure that was demolished in the early 20th century and a spa. Designed by RIBA award winning Takero Shimazaki Architects, these structures have been inspired by Georgian glasshouses and orangeries in keeping with the area.

The 150 acres of historic parkland that surround the hall and gardens will be restored, with tens of thousands of trees being planted to restore broken tree lines and arboricultural works to restore a number of view lines across the estate.

Meanwhile a new boathouse and bird hide are to be constructed as well as facilities for wild swimming.

Conservation architect, Daniel Shabetai said: “Our interventions have to be sympathetic so it’ll be authentic but not prescriptive.

The hall isn’t a museum, so we are upgrading it to meet modern needs.

“Of course, because of its listed status, we’re being very careful and everything will be approved by the local authority.

“It’s a real labour of love and it’s an exciting restoration.

Subject to the relevant permissions, it’s hoped that the next major phase of restoration will begin in 2020.