Historic Preservation Studio: Powderham, England
Powderham Castle is located south of Exeter on the banks of the River Exe in Devon, England. This Grade II listed, 200-acre site is comprised of a remarkable complex of historic buildings and landscapes that has remained in private ownership by the same family for 600 years, yet has received little study to date. In 2017 and 2018, students and faculty from the Historic Preservation Program, in collaboration with the University of Plymouth and the Earl of Devon, completed documentation on the medieval and 18th century portions of the Castle precinct itself, a Grade I listed building. Extensive archival written, graphic and photographic documentation, as well as fabric analysis carried out to date, has been compiled and organized as a database which will be available for future research and site and collections management.
Though approximately half of the castle complex has been documented, many challenges remain, from decades of deferred maintenance to competing demands for resources and audience. Powderham represents many things to many people; this studio implemented values-based planning strategies as the first phase of a long-range strategy for this complex historic site. Students were provided opportunities to re-examination of 20th century assumptions and values in light of 21st century values and scholarship, as well as compare English and American preservation practices and structures. The final product of this studio was a conservation statement exploring the historical context of the site, its significance, surveying the castle, developing conservation objectives, and devising conservation guidelines.