Joseph Cattmull, Architectural Technologist at Planning & Design Practice Ltd talks about The Lady in Grey, in Shardlow, Derbyshire. Now sadly disused, he discusses the rich heritage of the building, as well as options and possibilities for its future development.
I am lucky enough to get to drive past a wonderful piece of architecture every day, unfortunately the building, the Lady in Grey lies unused, abandoned and progressively getting worse by the day. The Lady in Grey in Shardlow used to be a highly regarded hotel, and before that a beautiful family home. Somehow, despite its Grade II listed status, it has been allowed to deteriorate to a point where some may question whether it would even be fit for restoration.
It was originally built to be a family home by the Soresby family in the 1770’s and was named “The Lodge”. The image below shows the building in its days as a dwelling and its hard to picture how the building was ever allowed to get to the state it is in now, especially due to its Grade II listing in 1967. Between being a dwelling and its decline to where it is now, “The Lodge” was transformed into a hotel called “The Lady in Grey”, the name it still goes by today to the locals and from there it was a Thai restaurant. It could perhaps be put down to the change of uses which triggered the buildings slow decline.
The current condition of the Lady in Grey is of such significance to people I have spoken to within the town, who remember it in its former glory as a highly regarded Hotel/Restaurant. There was hope for its restoration in 2012 when it received listed buildings consent for the change of use back to a single dwelling, however this came alongside a refusal to build 8 dwellings on the canal side within its grounds. It is here where the problem lies, the cost of restoring a derelict building of this size would be enormous, and it must be accepted now that for its restoration to ever take place there will have to be further development in the grounds to offset the cost of restoration against.
To my mind, the rewards for restoring this building back to its former glory could be fantastic. Its location, right on the canal through Shardlow, overlooking the boat yards, is idealistic and it is a shame its prime location is not being utilised. As mentioned above though it is unrealistic to expect the site to be restored without further developments on the grounds.
This does not however have to be to the site’s detriment though. Perhaps the previous application for 8 dwellings on the canal side was a bit ambitious but people are often quick to picture the worst whenever the phrase “new build” is mentioned. Through clever architecture and site planning, the site could be transformed whilst still maintaining the feeling of grandeur the building must have had in its original form as a dwelling.
I believe that a more subtle approach would be more suitable for the site, maybe 2 or 3 dwellings situated more towards the roadside rather than right on the canal could be a more pleasing scheme for the planners. After all the, the additions to the building are of poor architectural quality and to my mind could be taken down to make way for roadside developments, detached from the Lady in Grey.
It remains to be seen what the future holds for the Lady in Grey, but I, along with other residents of Shardlow I am sure, can only hope that a solution can be reached for the site between the owner and the planners and that one day we can see the building brought back to its former glory.
Joseph Cattmull, Architectural Technologist, PLanning & design Practice Ltd