1 Gascoyne Place, Sawclose, City Centre, Bath
1 Gascoyne Place is a Grade II late 18th century former public house situated within the commercial core of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. It overlooks the 2018 Sawclose development and forms part of a grouped assemblage of high significance listed buildings including the Grade II* Theatre Royal and the Grade II* 9 St John’s Place, formerly the house of Beau Nash. It adjoins the Grade II listed late 18th century Gascoyne House to the east with which it shares a symmetrically laid out principal frontage, with a central three storey frontage flanked by ‘wings’ of a reduced, more ‘compressed’ three storey scale with pedimented first floor windows. Each ‘wing’ incorporated a chamfered return to sit back onto Trim Bridge to the east and Beauford Square to the west. The harmonious architectural effect of the frontage has, however, been somewhat undermined by the variety of different painted finishes applied at ground and first floor level, correlating with a mix of active commercial/food and drink premises.
Whilst the application proposes to repaint the ground floor to match the Bath stone ashlar façade (sample Farrow & Ball ‘bone’), we consider that there is a missed opportunity for the removal of this paintwork to reinstate the fine ashlar finish of the building as originally designed, with the added benefit of minimising any associated ill-effects to the stonework – application of non-permeable paints can impede the natural, ‘breathable’ qualities of the stonework and exacerbate issues with water retention/ingress. Where stonework is painted in a buff or ‘stone’ colour, this can often sharpen the contrast between the painted and natural stone surfaces where the paint fails to accurately match the stonework, as demonstrated by the existing frontage treatment at Gascoyne House. The stonework and paint will also continue to weather differently which will affect the paint finish and how well it harmonises with the stonework.
The redecoration of the ground floor joinery and area of stonework below the first-floor stringcourse in off black would be a visually strident addition which would be a sharp contrast with the neighbouring Gascoyne House; whilst later application of paint to the principal façade has resulted in a degree of visual asymmetry, the use of white/off-white/buff colours (albeit with red painted joinery at no. 1) retains some degree of aesthetic homogeneity. We therefore recommend that a more subdued colour is selected, or an off-white as per the existing paint colour at ground floor. It is in the character of Bath for window joinery to be painted an off-white, and this would match the upper floors.
We also have heritage concerns regarding the proposed overlap of redecoration works with the surviving incised parish signs on the western chamfered edge, which have already been over-painted in white. The lettering surround would be painted off-black whilst the lettering is “highlighted” in Farrow & Ball ‘bone’ paint. There are concerns regarding the application of further layers of paint to this feature and potential loss of clarity of detail. We strongly recommend that the applicant gets in touch with the World Heritage Enhancement Fund (WHEF) regarding this aspect of the building; the WHEF has an ongoing interest in the conservation and repair of incised/painted street and parish signs throughout the city as part of its Outstanding Universal Value as a World Heritage Site and can offer expert advice on how best to repair and showcase this unique feature.
Considering the proposed extent of ductwork proposed at basement level, it is recommended to further clarify as to whether this would require the creation of any new openings that may affect historic fabric.