Shirwell firm honoured for its renovation of one of England’s oldest surviving buildings.

A NORTH Devon-based firm of architects has won a prestigious European award for its renovation of one of the oldest surviving buildings in England.

Jonathan Rhind Architects, which has an office in Shirwell, oversaw a significant repair of a 500-year-old former church house, poor house, schoolroom and parish meeting house at Poundstock, near Bude.

Work on the Grade I listed Gildhouse will improve the building’s accessibility and practical use and secure a long term sustainable use.

The project has won the 2012 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Conservation Award.

Jonathan Rhind, who was commission to do the work by Poundstock Parish Council, said: “Our aim was to keep a delicate balance between doing enough to conserve the building for future generations and doing too much, which could have compromised the historic and archaeological interest of the building.

“The project has encouraged regular and frequent use of the building by local people and groups; from parish meetings and harvest suppers to school visits – including history days with dressing up, craft making and cooking to deliver part of the National Curriculum.”

The awards will be presented on 1 June during a ceremony at the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon, Portugal.

Of the 28 winning projects from 15 different European countries, six will be named as ‘grand prix’ laureates as 2012’s most outstanding heritage achievements.