The Historic Houses / Sotheby’s Restoration of the Year Award 2018 was presented at Marchmont on 5th October. This was a proud day for Smith & Garratt, for this is the top accolade in our field. The house looked fantastic in autumn sunshine as eighty dignitaries and guests enjoyed house tours and speeches, followed by a formal luncheon. It is difficult, now, to picture the sadness of the house as it was when we started drawing-up plans back in 2012.
Sotheby’s Chairman, Lord Dalmeny (with specialisms in old masters, furniture and silver), pointed to Marchmont’s period as an institution – so often considered to be ‘the answer’ for mansion houses – which failed, leaving the building doubly-destitute; “Its rise from that to this” he said, “makes it a worthy winner.”
President of Historic Houses, James Birch, had only seen pictures before the winner was selected and said photography hadn’t captured “the completeness of perfection and attention to detail that presented itself from the moment I approached the house.”
Mr Oliver Burge, our client, gave gracious thanks to the team that delivered the works, picking out a number of individuals deserving a special mention. Three main phases of works took place over five years, with as many as 55 craftsmen and labourers on site at a time. He was pleased that 80% of the spend was in southern Scotland, with two-thirds coming from the county. “Receiving the award means a great deal to us and to everyone involved, especially the locals” he said, “and I want to thank, first, Hugh Garratt of Smith & Garratt … our architect … our surveyor … our project manager.”
All too often the pressures of a major restoration – with client and professional in close confinement through thick and thin – result in friction and a relationship weaker at the end than it was at the start. The rosy cherry on the top of this sweet cake is that we continue to roll out a programme of works at Marchmont – including a new balcony and graceful steps to the west lawn, restoration of the McKenzie & Moncur hothouses, and the Adam bridge, and reinforcing the longest avenue in Scotland. We salute the Burge family for its enthusiasm in taking on such a visionary project.