Westbury’s Pick: Gothic Garden Temple

accoya- temple - ceiling-and-vaults

This month's inspirational Westbury Pick is the Gothic Garden Temple, an impressive restoration project in Oxford’s Shotover Park Estate.

Overlooking a tiered lake, within the stunning grade 1 estate gardens near Oxford, stands the Gothic Temple, also known as the ‘Eye Catcher’. Perfectly symmetrical in its design, this unique gothic garden building is believed to be one of the oldest of its kind in the world.

It is thought that the structure was designed in the 1720s for General James Tyrrell by master builder, William Townesend, an expert in local colleges and civic building design. Sadly, the temple became a target for neglect and vandalism in recent years, so much so that it was marked as being officially ‘at risk’ by Historic England.

In 1987, the English Heritage awarded the site with a restoration grant for a partial repair. Despite this backing, the condition of the roof and side walls deteriorated significantly with time, leading to the collapse of the vaulted ceiling. The full extent of this damage was realised in March 2014 when major a restoration project began.

Accoya wood was specified for much of the works due to it being an incredibly hardwearing material, able to withstand the most extreme external environments with minimal maintenance required. The repairs were carried out in a way that carefully encompassed the original heritage appeal of the temple, a dedication which was recognised in an official commendation within the 2016 Georgian Society awards programme.

accoya- temple - ceiling-and-vaults

Restoration project manager, Matthew Hollingsworth of Spirit Architecture commented on the importance of fine detail when reviving historical structures in order to replicate the original look and feel. In a statement, Hollingsworth said “The historic arches of the vaulted ceiling of the Temple required a readily workable, easy to use timber and Accoya was the perfect choice. Using Accoya wood has dramatically reduced the maintenance of the temple and has helped to return the property to its former glory for the enjoyment of future generations.”

The lovingly restored Gothic Temple now boasts an awesome vaulted ceiling, rose windows and a stone effect finish and has been removed from the at-risk register by Historic England.

Images via: accoya.com