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24 September 2014

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Poltimore House
Regional Winner : Poltimore House near Exeter
The renovation of a Devon country house will go ahead, even though it did not win the BBC's Restoration programme. Poltimore House, near Exeter, represented the South West in the final, broadcast live on BBC Two.
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There are 17,000 historic buildings and monuments in the UK at risk.

On an average weekend, more people visit historic buildings in the UK than go to football matches.

According to the Churches Conservation Trust more than 1,000 churches, many of them listed, could be shut down in the next 10 years.

With over 80 million visits to historic visitor attractions each year in the UK, heritage is a vital part of the tourist industry.

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Politmore House won the regional heat in the BBC's Restoration series. The programme asked viewers to vote to save Britains most endangered buildings. Poltimore beat off competition from Whitfield Tabernacle and Arnos Vale cemetery, both in Bristol. The vote was one of the closest in the series. Unfortunately Poltimore was not so lucky in the finals. However restoration work will still take place. Read the full story from BBC News.

From grand country piles to small, homely farm houses, from hospitals and factories to chapels and townhouses, the nation’s heritage belongs to everyone.

So it's all the more shocking that so many of our historic buildings are literally falling down and may be lost forever.

Here in Devon, English Heritage - the government's custodian of historic buildings - has highlighted 23 listed buildings it considers to be at risk.

The buildings represent a wonderful array of architectural styles and reveal the depth and richness of Devon's heritage.

But there are people dedicated to rescuing our most treasured architectural and historic landmarks from dereliction.

Poltimore House
Poltimore House has suffered from neglect, arson, theft and vandalism
One high profile candidate for urgent restoration is Poltimore House, the jewel of Exeter’s countryside since the late 16th century.

Around £100,000 of public money has already been spent on the house to prevent further decay.

But an estimated £10m is needed to restore it fully. The Poltimore House Trust bought the building in 1999 and is now fighting to save it.

Originally the Bampfylde family seat, successive generations have extended and altered the house, although many of the original features survive.

The Bampfyldes ended their occupancy of the house in 1921 when it was put up for sale.

It became a boarding school for 18 years from 1921 to 1939 and was the temporary home for Dover College during World War Two.

In 1945 the house became a nursing home and remained in use as a hospital until 1975.

Poltimore House as it is today
Poltimore House as it is today
During this time many damaging alterations were carried out including the removal of the Jacobean ornamental plaster ceiling in the parlour.

Between 1976 and 1996 the house suffered from neglect, arson, theft and vandalism. Thieves have stolen many fireplaces, valuables and even the entire iron balustrade from the grand imperial staircase.

In 1997 it was acquired by the Buildings at Risk Trust and then in 1999 by the Poltimore House Trust.

Some holding works have been undertaken and £100,000 of public money has already been spent on the building to make it wind and weather-tight.

But Poltimore House remains in a poor condition and full restoration has been hampered because of problems finding a suitable use for the building.

Article first published September 2003
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