2015年3月29日星期日

Victorian rectory in Columb Major is in danger of collapse



  • Old Rectory in Columb Major, Cornwall was built in 1851 by William White

  • It is considered one of the finest Gothic Revival masterpieces in Britain

  • But after being bought by property tycoon James Brown it is completely overgrown with holes in the roof and piles of old furniture

  • Council refused to take action against Brown while he was in jail for cocaine possession




A listed Victorian rectory is in danger of collapse after its millionaire cocaine addict owner allowed it to become overgrown and delapidated.


The home in Columb Major, Cornwall is considered one of the most important buildings from the Gothic Revival movement, but it is now uninhabitated and has fallen into a state of extreme disrepair.


Its owner, a property dealer who was jailed for drugs possession, has refused to renovate it - but the local council has not exercised its legal powers to force him to take action.



Overgrown: The Old Rectory in Columb Major, Cornwall is almost inaccessible because it is so neglected


Overgrown: The Old Rectory in Columb Major, Cornwall is almost inaccessible because it is so neglected




Rubbish: The house is full of old furniture and other debris despite its Grade II* listing from English Heritage


Rubbish: The house is full of old furniture and other debris despite its Grade II* listing from English Heritage




Damage: Holes in the roof and ceiling are causing water damage to the historic Victorian structure


Damage: Holes in the roof and ceiling are causing water damage to the historic Victorian structure



The Old Rectory, which is Grade II*-listed, was built in 1851 by architect William White, who trained with the great Gothic Revival master George Gilbert Scott.


It was originally designed to be a palace for a bishop, before being downgraded to a rector's home and later becoming a hotel in recent years.


But despite the building's heritage, it is now derelict, filled with piles of rubbish and surrounded by overgrown plants, while major water damage has been caused by holes in the roof.


Photographs taken a few years ago show broken furniture piled up inside, with peeling walls and exposed ceiling beams. Greenery has grown up all around the outside of the house, potentially threatening its structure.


Cornwall Council has not taken legal action against the Old Rectory's owner, property tycoon James Brown, who was sent in prison in 2012 after police found a large haul of cocaine hidden in his Bentley convertible.



Neglected: The home was built in 1851 by William White and is considered a Gothic Revival masterpiece


Neglected: The home was built in 1851 by William White and is considered a Gothic Revival masterpiece




Warning: Campaigners are lobbying Cornwall Council to force the rectory's owner to make repairs


Warning: Campaigners are lobbying Cornwall Council to force the rectory's owner to make repairs




Debris: Photographs taken a few years ago show the shocking state of the listed building


Debris: Photographs taken a few years ago show the shocking state of the listed building



The Victorian Society, which promotes the cause of 19th-century architecture, recently launched a campaign to save the building from its 'shocking state of disrepair'.


Director Chris Costelloe said: 'Cornwall Council must take action now or this irreplaceable Grade II*-listed example of domestic Gothic Revival architecture will be lost.


'Further delay will result in much of the historic fabric being unsalvageable and the repairs will become enormously expensive.'


The society claims that Cornwall Council has been aware of the threat to the building for at least four years, but has failed to act.


Officials insisted that they could not take action while Brown was in prison, because it would breach his human rights.



Peeling: Paint is coming off the walls in the 19th-century home, which was built as a bishop's palace


Peeling: Paint is coming off the walls in the 19th-century home, which was built as a bishop's palace




Abandoned: No one is living in the house and plants are climbing up around the walls


Abandoned: No one is living in the house and plants are climbing up around the walls




Heyday: This historic postcard shows how the Old Rectory looked in its prime


Heyday: This historic postcard shows how the Old Rectory looked in its prime




Owner: Property tycoon and cocaine addict James Brown is the legal owner of the Old Rectory


Owner: Property tycoon and cocaine addict James Brown is the legal owner of the Old Rectory



The council has the power to impose an 'urgent works notice' which would force the owner to repair the house, but it has done nothing more than try to talk to the owner.


A spokesman said: 'The council is once again trying to make contact with the proprietors of the building to open a dialogue in regard to its current state. As yet the council has not had a response from the proprietors of this building.'


English Heritage has joined the calls to save the Old Rectory, calling it 'an incredibly important site and an architectural gem', and has been urging the council to take action.


Inspector Simon Hickman said: 'The site is on our English Heritage South-West Heritage At Risk register and we are doing everything we can to ensure it is saved.


'Now the owner is no longer in prison we have advised Cornwall Council serve a repairs notice as soon as possible. We have offered to underwrite the repairs notice and to support them any way we can.'


Locals in the small village say they are scared to speak out about the derelict house - one told MailOnline that he had been harassed online after raising awareness of the issue.


Brown retired at the age of 26 after making millions of pounds as a property developer, but his life spiralled downhill when he became addicted to cocaine.


The businessman took so much of the drug that his nose collapsed, and in 2012 he was sentenced to five years in prison for possession of class A drugs and a collection of handguns.












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