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Accoya® selected as the material of choice for historic Gothic Temple restoration

01 Sep 17

Accoya, the world-leading, high performance wood, has been used to restore the historic Gothic Temple on the grade 1 Shotover Estate, located just outside Oxford.

The Gothic Temple, also known as the ‘Eye Catcher’, was designed for General James Tyrrell in the 1720s, probably by William Townesend, a Master Builder with experience of local Oxford colleges and civic buildings. A Gothic style garden building, it lies at the eastern end of the main axis of the grounds and is believed to be one of the oldest of its kind in the world. The symmetrical design makes the garden temple unusual and architecturally significant.

Standing at the end of the tiered lake, the temple was designed for purely aesthetic reasons to enhance the beautiful landscape. However, in recent years the structure was neglected and prone to vandalism, and the building was labelled officially ‘at risk’ by Historic England.

In 1987 a grant was awarded to the site by the then English Heritage for a partial repair. Despite this, the condition of the roof and side walls deteriorated, leading to the collapse of the ceiling of the vaulted loggia in August 2013.

The temple underwent a significant restoration program in March 2014, partly funded by a grant from Natural England, led by Matthew Hollingsworth of Spirit Architecture, contractors County Construction (Oxon) Ltd and Philip Gaches, Master Plasterer. The original essence of the temple was restored to the highest of standards, using Accoya wood to rebuild the damaged vaulted loggia.

Once the work commenced, the full extent of the damage was realised. Timber within the structure had become fully eroded and a number of critical sections needed to be replaced. Class 1 durable wood was vital in order to match the quality of the original timber.

Accoya, with its superior dimensional stability and 50 year above ground guarantee was the perfect material and gained approval by Historic England for use in the restoration project.

This dedication to preserving the building led to the project being commended within the popular Georgian Society awards programme in 2016.

Matthew Hollingsworth of Spirit Architecture commented: “With such a culturally and historically important structure it is essential to be as detailed as possible in order to replicate the look and feel of the original design.

“The historic arches of the vaulted ceiling of the Temple required a readily workable, easy to use timber and Accoya was the perfect choice. Using Accoya wood has dramatically reduced the maintenance of the temple and has helped to return the property to its former glory for the enjoyment of future generations.”

Laura Keily, Head of Marketing for Accsys commented: “The Accoya Process is based upon 90 years of research and development, so we were confident it was the right choice to restore the Gothic Temple for years to come.

“Accoya wood is sustainably sourced from FSCâ certified fast-growing wood species and has achieved the Cradle-to-Cradle Gold certification in recognition of its sustainability credentials across its lifespan, making it a great choice for a restoration project like this. We are delighted that Accoya has been chosen for such a historically important undertaking.”

Manufactured using a proprietary acetylation process, Accoya wood is non-toxic and withstands the most extreme external environments. Hardwearing and versatile, it also has the benefit of being incredibly low maintenance and easy to treat in a range of finishes.

Accoya Gothic Temple
Accoya restoration
Accoya wood