Bond Pearce advises English Heritage on rescue of Betjeman

31 Jan, 2012

Lawyers at Bond Pearce have helped English Heritage to secure the future of Harmondsworth Barn in west London – one of the great buildings of England built in 1426 by Winchester College. Grade I listed, the barn ranks alongside the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace for its exceptional architectural and historic interest.


Rescued by English Heritage from years of neglect and decay, the oak-framed medieval barn – dubbed by the late poet laureate and heritage campaigner Sir John Betjeman as the “Cathedral of Middlesex” will open to the public in spring 2012 under the guardianship of English Heritage, joining national attractions such as Stonehenge and parts of Hadrian’s Wall.


Harmondsworth Barn had been bought in 2006, by an off-shore company whose interest appeared to be only in land values and not in the history or architectural significance of the barn. The company did not maintain the barn or use it for any purpose and in 2009, alarmed by its deteriorating condition, English Heritage issued an Urgent Works Notice for emergency repairs to make the barn wind and water tight.


While settling the costs of these repairs with the owners, English Heritage purchased the barn for £20,000.


Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: “Harmondsworth Barn is one of the greatest medieval buildings in Britain, built by the same skilled carpenters who worked on our magnificent medieval cathedrals. Its rescue is at the heart of what English Heritage does – protecting this nation’s architectural treasures and helping people discover our national story through them.” 


Patrick Wetherall, Property Litigation Partner at Bond Pearce commented: “It was a pleasure to assist English Heritage with such a worthy cause. Using the law to help protect historical treasures such as Harmondsworth Barn feels like a real achievement. We have been working with English Heritage for a number of years now and look forward to advising them on future challenges.” 

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