The rebuilding of the Royal Clarence hotel in Exeter is about to get underway following the appointment of architects to repair the 18th century property, which was devastated by fire last year.
Since the blaze in October 2016, Manchester-based architectural practice Buttress has been on site working with structural engineers Thomasons to assess the extent of the damage and make safe the remaining elements of the Grade II-listed building, owned by Andrew Brownsword Hotels.
The architects have now been appointed to take the restoration forward and lead the interior design of the hotel, believed to be one of England's oldest. The rebuilding work is expected to be completed in 2019.
Buttress has previously worked on converting Grade II-listed buildings in Manchester and Birmingham into easyHotels. It has also worked on projects at the Albert Docks in Liverpool, Lincoln Cathedral and Blackpool Heritage Museum.
Detailed research into the history of the building, parts of which date from the 16th century, has also been prepared by the practice, and will be used to inform the restoration process. The company hopes to preserve its surviving features of historic and architectural importance and, where possible, incorporate them into the rebuild.
Andrew Brownsword bought the 53-bedroom hotel in 2003 for £4.5m and later transformed it to the four-AA-star Abode Exeter. Immediately after the fire, which started in an adjacent art gallery, he said that he intended to rebuild the hotel "with enormous sympathy to its importance and heritage".
Stephanie Hocking, chief executive of Andrew Brownsword Hotels, said: "We are delighted to be working with Buttress to secure the future of the hotel. As such a significant historic building, we are pleased to be entering the rebuild phase and look forward to delivering a hotel the city can once again be proud of."
David Shatwell, director at Buttress, added: "Over the past few months, our efforts have been focused on stabilising the building, taking great care to save as much as possible of what remains. Now most of the debris has been cleared, we are pleased to be in a position where we can move forward with the next stage of work."
Photo credit: Darren Marsh
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