Simon Goddard is the Principal Director at The Goddard Partnership Limited and has specialised in work to historic buildings for over 25 years. During this time he has worked on very significant Grade I Listed Buildings and Scheduled Ancient Monuments including Northington Grange and Winchester College Chapel. His work currently includes a number of Heritage Lottery Funded projects, and buildings identified as at risk by Historic England.

Q- How have The Goddard Partnership been involved with WHP?

A- We have been involved with the works at WHP for three years. We were fortunate that the ground work had already been established, and we were able to start a series of projects within the main house, and to the Place Farm barns.

Since that time we have been involved with all sorts of things which have cropped up along the way; being as diverse as the conservation of ceiling in the Geraldine Room, to improving the access around the site. One of the nice aspects of working for the Trust is that you are never quite sure what might crop up next.

Q- Do you remember your first visit here? What was that like?

A- Yes, very clearly.  Historic buildings can sometimes suffer if they have been in receipt of too much money, but this was certainly not the case at West Horsley Place! This may sound a very odd statement, but in our experience well intentioned but wide-ranging work can sometimes remove what makes a building interesting.  Clearly the house has been modernised at several points through its history, but in most cases this has not completely wiped away all fragments of the earlier phases. This is highly prized by those working in conservation. West Horsley Place has a special character, which has sometimes been a little wragged around the edges.  This is part of its charm, and it is essential that this shines through even once we have stopped the roofs leaking and the windows from falling out.

Q- What is the role of a Chartered Building Surveyor?

A- 
In this role we bring an overview of project, and where the priorities for the site should be. This will primarily involve ensuring the historic buildings are wind and weather tight and to ensure that they do not deteriorate any further. My background in building surveying brings a practical approach coupled with the creativity of the architectural training for the new work.

Q-WHP is on Historic England's Heritage at Risk register, in what ways are the manor house and outbuildings still vulnerable?

A- The Heritage at Risk register is a very important list of buildings and structures which are threatened as a result of their condition, but also in terms of them falling out of use. 
The current proposals for the site are seeking to rejuvenate the buildings and to give them beneficial uses which can start to ensure that they are protected. The buildings remain vulnerable where some of the roofs are still leaking, and parapet gutters need urgent attention. The stables building is of particular concern, where a temporary scaffold has had to be inserted to hold up the first floor and the clock tower above. This is a very significant building in the setting of the estate.  The hope is for funding to allow this to be converted into uses for arts, crafts and learning.

Q- What is your favourite room or space at WHP?

A- Now that is a difficult question. The house has so many really interesting spaces, aside from specific rooms. I am particularly drawn to the roof spaces as these often allow us to appreciate how the building has evolved. The timber used to form the original parts of the building have been dated using a technique known as dendrochronology. This allows us to have a high degree of confidence for the various phases of work. If we then imagine that the trees were already several hundreds of years old at the time they were felled, it is rather astonishing. The small areas of burning still visible on the timbers in the roof also point to the use of ‘rush lights’ in the roof by the servants, which shows a very different aspect to the high status uses of the rooms below.

In terms of the more recent projects, the North West restrooms allowed us to thread the new work into the old, with the South barns project adding flexible spaces for education, performance and as a venue for all sorts of community-led events.  

 

Q- What does it mean to you to work on vulnerable historic buildings?

A-  I have always had an interest in older buildings, but this really came to the fore while I worked at Winchester College nearly 30 years ago. My job exposed me to a huge variety of building types of all ages, and I was fortunate enough to be able work with incredibly knowledgeable craftsmen and women. Their practical knowledge proved invaluable, and I believe it has helped with our approach on our projects ever since. It is a passion rather than a job!

 

Q- How do you see WHP in 10 years time?

A- I would like to think that is future is secure, that it has been removed from the Heritage At Risk register and it is being enjoyed by many people.