The conservation and restoration efforts involved at Dorney Court are pursued with a passion, patience and dedication which reflect the Family’s overwhelming desire to preserve the House for the Nation and to pass it on to future generations to enjoy.
However, like many historic buildings, there is a backlog of work and, given the need to use only the most skilled craftsmen, projects are prioritised and often undertaken as and when urgency dictates.
In 2009, Dorney Court received the prestigious annual Historic Houses Association Conservation Award for the restoration of decaying brickwork beating off competition from Blenheim Palace and Highclere Castle. The judges noting that the work at Dorney stood out because of “the enthusiasm of the craftsman” and “the support the craftsman received from the local conservation officer”; the award testament to the level of detail and sympathy shown to all elements of the restoration of the House, no matter how humble the subject.
Since Dorney Court opened to the public in 1981, the Sisyphean programme of conservation and restoration has included among others:
- Re-roofing over a period of ten years
- Restoration of c. 30 paintings and pictures
- Reinstatement of new barge boards
- Renovation of leaded lights windows
Besides standalone projects, the fabric and furniture are closely monitored and an on-going schedule has witnessed great strides made to safeguard and restore at-risk items.
Yet, for all the focus on preservation, the Family has always continued to look forward and to seek to improve and enhance the House. At times this has not always been an unmitigated success. The Palladian façade of the eighteenth century was fortunately a superficial development, returned to the original Tudor form in the 1900s after a relatively brief interlude of 150 years. Visitors should look out for the most recent additions which have been imagined and overseen by Peregrine and Jill Palmer and range from the spectacular painted floor in the Dining Room to the intricate Millennium mosaic fireplace in the Oak Room.
Dorney Court is grateful to the Historic Houses Association and Heritage Conservation Trust for their support.