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Developer attacks house by TV ‘Prisoner’ architect

House by famed Portmeirion architect condemned as 'mediocre' by developer wanting to demolish it.

Larkbeare, in Cumnor, near Oxford was built in 1905 by Clough Williams-Ellis. He would later design the world-famous Portmeirion, setting for 1960s TV series The Prisoner. 

Developer Bewley Homes is seeking to demolish Larkbeare and its garden to make way for a housing development. In a statement to the Oxford Mail, Bewley Homes calls Larkbeare 'mediocre'. Its judgement in this, however, does not survive a viewing of its own website, www.bewleyhomes.co.uk. This advertises a series of dull, generic buildings, which it refers to as 'beautiful'. 

The demolition plans have been condemned by the Society. 'No assessment of Larkbeare's significance was undertaken by the developer,' said James Hughes, Conservation Advisor. 'The building is a particularly fine heritage asset. It was designed by a major architect sensitive to local building style. Its replacement with a generic housing scheme is not just a waste but a travesty.'

'Instead of being demolished, this historic building should stay, even as part of a more sympathetic - if slightly less dense - housing development.'

Larkbeare, designed in Arts & Crafts style, was an early work by Clough Williams-Ellis. Its first owner was Anne Wynne Thackeray, great-niece of William Makepeace Thackeray, who used it to entertain, among others, Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughan-Williams.

The Society has written to the Vale of White Horse District Council to persuade it to take a responsible and sustainable approach to its history and architectural heritage.

Thursday 16 August, 2012

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