King of Prussia's Gold Medal honours church architecture

Published: Sunday, January 1, 2012

 

Royal connections were to the fore when Prince Nicholas von Preussen awarded the King of Prussia Gold Medal for church architecture to Julian Vallis of HMDW Architect Ltd, for major repairs and conservation works to the brick and terracotta at The Chapel Royal, North Street, Brighton.

The Gold Medal was the gift of King Freidrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia in 1857 who was highly impressed with British  Victorian church architecture.  Brighton’s Chapel Royal boasts a close association with the flamboyant Prince Regent who  attended the inaugural service with  his wife Caroline of Brunswick in 1795.  

The winner of a Gold Medal for church architecture, originally a gift from the King of Prussia to the Incorporated Church Building Society in 1857,  has been made annually since the early 1980’s when the medal was re-discovered during an office move.  (The work of the Incorporated Church Building Society is now administered by the National Churches Trust.) The award is now sponsored jointly by the Ecclesiastical Architects and Surveyors Association and the National Churches Trust and is open to any Christian denomination.

The Presidents' Award

The award ceremony took place at Westminster Cathedral Hall on Thursday 1 November. Also announced at the event was the winner of The Presidents’ Award for innovative, high quality new church architecture which in 2012 goes to architect Nicholas Rank  of Buttress Fuller Alsop Williams Architects for providing new facilities at St. Botolph’s Church, Boston.

The Presidents’ Award dates from 1999.  A Chalice and Paten, originally made after the 2nd World War to be loaned to a new or seriously war damaged church, is lent to the winning parish to be held by them for the next year.

Richard Pedlar, President of the Ecclesiastical Architects and Surveyors Association and chairman of the judging panel for both awards, presented the Presidents’ Award for 2012. He said:  “The 2012 submissions for the two awards were of excellent quality, indicating the skill and dedication of church architects and surveyors in preserving the ecclesiastical heritage of all denominations.”

Claire Walker, Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust said: “The National Churches Trust is delighted to be a joint sponsor of these awards which recognise the expertise and talent of church architects.  Churches are treasured architectural landmarks central to our history and heritage and these two awards are also a great way of marking the investment churches are making in safeguarding their future. “

Photos of the churches and of the King of Prussia Gold Medal and Presidents’ Award Chalice can be downloaded

More Information on the 2012 Award Winners

The King of Prussia’s Award 2012  for innovative, high quality repair to Julian Vallis of HMDW Architect Ltd, The Chapel Royal, North Street, Brighton.

Located in the centre of Brighton and adjacent to the Royal Pavilion, the Chapel Royal is Grade II* listed and dates from 1793.

The Judges congratulated the architects for an exemplary scheme that had overcome great technical and aesthetic challenges in a harsh coastal environment.  The restoration work reversed a number of unfortunate earlier interventions which had a detrimental visual impact and which, over time, had clearly accelerated the decay of the fabric.

Falls of brick from the arch forming the main entrance were reported in March 2009 and were suspected to be a result of freeze-thaw weathering of already friable fabric.  Various works included a full brush down of loose materials and the consolidation of, in particular, two window reveals where a significant loss of roll edge bricks forming jams had occurred;  terracotta and brick replacement across the south elevation and the tower; and reinstatement of fabric in place of cement based repairs.

The Presidents’ Award 2012 for innovative, high quality design goes to architect Liz Jackson of Buttress Fuller Alsop Williams Architects for providing new facilities at St. Botolph’s Church, Boston.

The church of St Botolph, Boston, frequently known as “The Stump”, is one of the largest parish churches in the country and has the tallest church tower.  It is the most significant building in the small market town of Boston, and sits alongside the marketplace and is a great attraction for local residents and visitors thereby creating the need for new facilities.

The outcome of various feasibility studies was the proposal for a structure in the Western bay of the North aisle to house vestry, office and shop, and to construct an open kitchen facility in the base of the Great West Tower.  The catering facility is designed so that although it is open to the main body of the space it can be folded away when not in use, such as when the West doors are used for ceremonial purposes etc.  Café patrons sit at loosely arranged tables within the tower, creating a dramatic space with the soaring height of the tower above.

This project had a challenging brief and the Judges felt that the new works, designed with a vertical emphasis in a lime oak echoed the architecture of St. Botolph’s Church in a sensitive and contemporary manner.  The architect has achieved a totally reversible scheme within this fine Grade I Listed Building which has no detrimental impact on the historic fabric nor does it compromise the nature of the sacred space.

These national awards for church architecture are sponsored jointly by the Ecclesiastical Architects and Surveyors Association and the National Churches Trust.  The Awards are open to any Christian denomination.