2009 Yearbook

r e v i e w 31 The Architectural History Practice Places of worship account for 45 per cent of all Grade I listed buildings in England, yet many are under threat. LYDIA WILSON outlines how her company, HESPR member The Architectural History Practice, is involved in their conservation. The Architectural History Practice was founded in 1999 to provide research and analysis on historic buildings and areas. In essence, our purpose is to inform people about the buildings they own or look after, and let them know why those buildings matter. AHP now undertakes a range of historic environment work, including conservation plans, listing reviews, conservation area appraisals, significance assessments, church surveys and advice on applications for listed building and conservation area consent. We also provide reports on individual buildings, charting their history and setting them in context. The attraction for AHP of joining the Historic Environment Service Providers Recognition scheme is that our work, which is already undertaken by specialists who are IHBC members, becomes publicly associated with the principles and standards inscribed in IHBC’s code of conduct. Although we work to best practice principles, AHP’s listing as part of HESPR means that the public doesn’t have to take our word for it. Research and analysis of churches, whether they are in use or redundant, takes up a growing proportion of AHP’s time. Current practice generally takes one of two different approaches, depending on whether or not a church is still in use for worship. For churches in use, the favoured approach is high-level and strategic, with rapid assessments of the significance of large numbers of buildings. Where buildings remain in diocesan use, as is usually the case, AHP’s work generally falls under the remit of English Heritage’s Taking Stock programme, which uses a broad-brush approach to assess whether each church in a given area (usually a diocese) is St Mark’s, North Audley Street, Mayfair (1825–28, J P Gandy-Deering) is a spectacular Grade I listed Greek Revival church declared redundant by the Church of England in 1974. A conservation plan prepared by AHP explored a proposal for its reuse as a health spa. (Photo: Jamie Barras)