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Cornwall Council petitioned to save Victorian architectural gem

The Victorian Society has today launched a petition urging Cornwall Council to ensure that this irreplaceable Cornish architectural gem is saved.

The Old Rectory, St Columb Major, Cornwall

The Old Rectory in St Columb Major, Cornwall, is one of the most important Gothic Revival houses in the country and one of architect William White's most important works, yet it has been allowed to fall into a shocking state of disrepair. The Victorian Society has today launched a petition urging Cornwall Council to ensure that the irreplaceable Cornish architectural gem is saved.

Director of the Victorian Society, Chris Costelloe said: ‘Cornwall Council must take action now or this irreplaceable Grade II*-listed example of domestic gothic revival architecture will be lost. Further delay will result in much of the historic fabric being unsalvageable and the repairs will become enormously expensive. Those who care about the future of the building should sign our petition asking the Council to act on its duty to the people of Cornwall to preserve this nationally important building.’

Built in 1851, the Old Rectory was designed as the seat of the new Cornish bishop. Today the Palace is owned by millionaire property tycoon James Brown who, until recently, was in prison for reportedly possessing banned handguns, cocaine and ammunition. During that time the building’s neglect worsened. Large holes in the roof and failed guttering have resulted in extensive water damage throughout the building.

Cornwall Council has known about the severe threat to the Old Rectory’s survival since 2011 at the latest, when it featured on the Society’s Most Endangered Buildings list, but it has failed to serve an Urgent Works Notice on the owner to ensure repairs are made.  It is extremely unusual for Urgent Works Notices to be delayed for so long as they are used for work which, as the name implies, needs to be carried out urgently. The Council told the Victorian Society that taking action while the owner was in prison would breach his human rights. Now Brown has been released this is no longer an issue and the Council must take action immediately to save the building.

Thursday 12 March, 2015

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