Development proposals that plan to secure the future and conserve the heritage of Runcie Court – Salomons Estates’ Grade 2* listed coach house were shared during a public event on October 20, 2022, which saw over a dozen members of the Tunbridge Wells community attend.
The development of the grounds’ elaborate stables and coach house built by David Lionel Salomons in 1884 are part of the estate’s ten-year masterplan which includes reinstating original character through landscape restoration and increasing accommodation and function room space in the bid to promote local tourism.
The phased approach will generate the funds necessary to restore the main building, Salomons House which has been an important historical site for over 190 years.
On October 20, architect Gaby Higgs invited the local Tunbridge Wells community to her presentation and tour of the stables which form phase three of the estate’s overall masterplan.
Gaby, who specialises in the restoration and conversion of listed buildings, including sensitive retrofitting for environmental performance and long-term sustainability, covered planning proposals 22/02425/Full and 22/02426/LBC which propose a change from existing private commercial uses to visitor accommodation, public meeting spaces and a café.
Gaby explained to the group that,
“It is vital to give this building a long-term viable and sustainable use. We want to restore and conserve the Grade 2* building fabric, whilst allowing people access to experience and understand the fascinating history revealed by its unique interiors.”
“The proposed conversion will give people the opportunity to engage with the building, rather than, look but don’t touch. Runcie Court will become a place to visit, or stay awhile … to live in, eat, sleep, meet and socialise – in short, to bring the building back to life!”
The presentation and tour took place after local historian and Salomons’ museum curator Chris Jones gave a talk on the fascinating history of David Lionel Salomons and Runcie Court.
As Chris said,
“David Lionel Salomons was not someone who did things by halves. When he decided he needed a new stable block, he got the help of noted local architect William Barnsley Hughes. Together they produced a stunning creation in red-brick and Portland stone, with fittings and carpentry to the highest standard. It has been likened to a miniature 16th century French chateau.”
“And much of it survives today. Gaby’s proposals are a way of ensuring its continued survival.”
Salomons Estate, who recognise their duty to approach the project with sensitivity are now waiting for the planning proposals to be approved, which if successful have said future events will take place to involve the local community throughout.
‘The value embodied in Runcie Court cannot be understated, but the plan to expand, revitalise and re-use the asset for long-term sustainable uses is sustainable in both social, economic, and environmental terms, promising an exciting future for the estate and our community’.
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Editor’s Notes: Salomons Estate is a stunning Victorian mansion set in 36 acres of rolling gardens. Two miles from Royal Tunbridge Wells and only an hours travel from London, the estate is perfect for weddings, conferences, private parties, and office hire, and has accommodation and a popular bistro onsite.