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IHBC Heritage Market Place | June 2023

Our architect and Historic Buildings specialist Joanna Saady gave a number of online presentations last week as part of The Institute of Historic Building Conservation’s (IHBC) Annual School which runs from the 21st – 24th of June. As Chair of the IHBC South East Branch and Trustee, Joanna began by sharing examples of the visits, and practical workshops that the South East Branch had arranged in the last 6 months.

After giving a brief précis of the work of the South East Branch, Jo then outlined the Concept Design and Spatial Coordination for St John’s Seminary in Wonersh, one of the larger projects currently being undertaken by our practice. St John’s Seminary is the only one of its kind in the UK, purpose built, by Fredrick Walters (1849 – 1931), a renowned Scottish architect and one of the leading Roman Catholic architects of his generation, he is also known for Buckfast Abbey in Devon.

Hand drawn perspective image of St johns seminary prior to construction.
St John's Seminary RIBA Archive Image

St John’s Seminary from the RIBA Archives

The completion of this most important Grade II Catholic Church took place in 1891. However, due to falling student numbers the Catholic Church decided to close St John’s Seminary 124 years later. Strutt and Parker were instructed by the Catholic Church in 2020 to conduct a marketing initiative which initially focused on educational uses, but no viable purchaser was found in this sector.

Therefore, in 2022 St John’s seminary was purchased by the property company And Company who immediately began a detailed public consultation period with the local community, this in turn stimulated good engagement with all stakeholders.

Aerial view of the proposed scheme at St Johs showing the 2 new seminary extensions and  the converted farm buildings.
CGI birds eye view of the proposed scheme

This project is showcasing cutting edge development, combining heritage and energy efficient building, while ensuring minimal harm to the listed building, including the effect on the setting by access and car movement. The design incorporates an exemplary new build with high-quality architecture that will be carbon neutral.

Proposed landscape scheme showing hardscaping and greenery across the whole site.
Landscape plan of proposed scheme by Landcape Perspective

The landscape design includes enhancement of the ecology, protection of the associated habitats (lighting sensitively dimmed overnight) and new recreational facilities that will reduce pressure on the nearby Wonersh and Shamley green village facilities. New public footpaths and the use of bicycles will also be encouraged.


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