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Concern over damage to historic Lyme Regis house

The house in which the author John Fowles wrote some of his most famous novels could be seriously damaged under plans to convert the building into a holiday home.

The Society is concerned about moves to demolish an entire wing of Belmont House on Pound Street in Lyme Regis.

Belmont is an eighteenth century maritime villa built in 1784 and listed at Grade II* because of its association with Eleanor Coade and the use of her patented artificial stone to decorate the front of the house. During the nineteenth century it was extended and altered considerably.

It's now owned by the Landmark Trust which wants to demolish the south west wing and return the building to its eighteenth century form.

'This is a strangely old-fashioned approach to conservation', said Heloise Brown, Conservation Adviser for the Victorian Society. 'It is no longer acceptable to restore historic buildings to a specific and short-lived moment in their past. Under these plans virtually everything that was done to the house during the last two hundred years is removed. This is excessively destructive.'

The Society is urging West Dorset Council to refuse permission for demolition in order to preserve the building's Victorian heritage and its association with John Fowles.

'John Fowles moved to Belmont in the late 1960s and it was there that he wrote The Ebony Tower, Daniel Martin, Mantissa and The Maggot. He knew and used the house in its current form. By destroying all the Victorian rooms you effectively write Fowles out of the history of the building'.

The Landmark Trust bought the house in 2007 from the author's widow, Sarah Fowles.

Thursday 28 October, 2010

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