Alex Coppock

Introducing SPAB

by 11th Oct, 2013

SPAB-logoAlex recently spoke at a meeting of the Marches Regional Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) is a fascinating organisation that not everyone will be aware of. It was founded by William Morris in 1877 to counteract the highly destructive ‘restoration’ of medieval buildings being practised by many Victorian architects.

It is the largest, oldest and most technically expert national pressure group fighting to save old buildings from decay, demolition and damage. Its members include many of the leading conservation practitioners as well as home owners living in houses spanning all historical periods and those who simply care about old buildings.

SPAB represents the practical and positive side of conservation by encouraging excellence in new design to enrich and complement the historic environment and by offering help when it’s wanted and informed resistance when it’s needed.

The Society has a statutory role as adviser to local planning authorities and must be notified of listed building applications that involve total or partial demolition.

Marches Regional Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings

The Marches Regional SPAB Group is a committee-run group, which was re-started in 2012 by a few members with the aim of arranging visits to interesting historic buildings in the Marches region. The group comprises people who all have an interest in old buildings and a desire to understand and protect them. Some of the group work in the heritage sector: architects, surveyors, building contractors; others are historic building homeowners.

The Group often visits buildings that are not normally open to the public. It meets four times a year, typically on a Saturday and is a sociable group that welcomes new members. The day usually involves visits to two old buildings and lunch in a local pub.

In 2012 the Group visited an ancient Guild Hall/Court Room, a medieval priory, a 15th century timber-framed farmhouse, a church with a 12th century font, an 1882 calendar house (having 365 windows, 52 rooms, 12 chimneys and seven external doors) and a recently repaired Shropshire castle. It also visited a members’ home that is currently being repaired and extended to learn about the materials that are being used.

2013 visits included the one to St Peter’s and also to a flaxmill that’s the oldest iron framed building in the world, a Victorian brick pumping station, a large timber-framed late-medieval open-hall house of base-cruck construction, a Grade I family home from the Queen Anne period and a Grade I Elizabethan brick manor house. A trip to Bishops Castle is planned for the autumn to look around four buildings, some of which are owned by group members. The 2013 Christmas lunch will be held at Burton Court, Eardisland. A tour of the house will take place before lunch is served.

The Group is already taking bookings for its 2014 visits. Details are available from Angela Ogden, Group Organiser at or on 01547 530237.