Sydmonton Court

This project was awarded Commended in the Craftsmanship category at the Natural Stone Awards 1995.

The official guide said, 'The focus of the now west wing of Sydmonton Court, a Grade II* listed country house, is a three-storey entrance doorway, crowned by a realisation in stone of Design for Gothic Window (1853) by the pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais. This 2.8x2.2m arch took 2,500 hours to carve from a 20 tonne piece of Portland, which provides a striking contrast to the Chicksgrove ashlar used for the stair tower.

The sculptor worked from a full size pencil tracing of Millais' actual drawing (which was brought in 1974 by the owner of Sydmonton court, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber), from photographs and from a series of plaster maquettes.

The door itself is framed by heavy, ribbed Portland piers with vaulted fans supporting the first floor Portland balcony. The glazed double doors onto the balcony are framed by ogee section Portland jambs and mullions, and a carved ashlar head with an intersecting geometric lancet relief connecting to the base of the Millais arch.'

The judges commented, 'A most original concept to use a Millais painting as the basis for a new porch. The fluted porch is surmounted by a balcony and above this is the principal subject of the award - carved figures around a quatrefoil.

Getting suitable size stone proved a problem but carving the whole unit out of one block avoided the difficulty of jointing. Depth is given by the opening of the quatrefoil with the hands of the figures taken into the tops of the openings and visible from the small sitting out area behind.

Considerable thought was given to the use of a number of stones to add textural and colour interest to the fascinating porch.'

Sydmonton Court using Portland Stone built by Albion Stone