Donations are needed to save the derelict and vandalised 18th century Cobham Dairy
PUBLISHED: 10:56 04 October 2016 | UPDATED: 16:58 04 October 2016
© John MIller
The grade II* listed building could be turned into an unusual holiday home if £1million is raised
A £1million rescue project is on the way to save an eccentric and abandoned dairy in the Cobham countryside.
If £954,000 is raised, the Grade II* listed building that has been derelict and unused for over a century will be transformed into an unusual holiday home.
After 15 years of deliberating, conservation charity the Landmark Trust announced its fundraising appeal to rescue Cobham Dairy - an 18th century building which sits in the historic surroundings of Cobham Hall, now an independent girls school near Gravesend.
After being left unused throughout the whole of the 20th century, the 220-year-old dairy has been left vandalised and remains a security-threat for the school grounds it’s situated in.
But with plans to completely revamp the desolate gothic building into a quirky holiday retreat, the abandoned dairy could soon be rescued and restored to its former glory.
Alastair Dick-Cleland of the Landmark Trust is campaigning to ensure Cobham Dairy doesn’t disappear.
“We first heard about the dairy about 15 years ago, but the school questioned the idea of part of their grounds being open to the general public.
“All of the other buildings on the grounds of Cobham Hall have been restored, so they have now agreed the dairy is the last piece of the jigsaw that needs restoration.
“This magical little building is a shell of what it used to be, and with a set of the architect’s original drawings hopefully we can restore it back to how it was in its heyday.”
Set in the 150 acre grounds of Elizabethan Cobham Hall, which dates back to 1208, the dairy was built in the mid 1790s by James Wyatt - one of the most popular and influential architects of his age. He was commissioned by the 4th Earl of Darnley to design the building for his wife Elizabeth Brownlow - a time when it was fashionable for aristocratic ladies to have picturesque dairies in the grounds of old stately homes. The making of cream, butter and cheese in the distinct building would then survive until the end of the 19th century.
In 1962, when Cobham Hall became an independent boarding school run by a charity, the dairy was already derelict. Although repairs were carried out in the 1980s to make the building weatherproof and secure, Cobham Dairy today remains on the buildings at risk register.
If fundraising goes to plan, the independent school have agreed to lease the building out for 99 years to the Landmark Trust so it can be used as a holiday let. Although the conservation charity say there were initial safety concerns flagged by the school about public access to their grounds, plans have been set for a completely separate entrance to the revamped accommodation.
The bursar of Cobham Hall David Standen said:
“Having the dairy restored is great from our point of view seeing as there is always a problem with security in semi-derelict buildings.
“Aesthetically, we own that building and wouldn’t want it to disappear. We’ve been trying to find a suitable partner as we are not able to rescue it ourselves.”
At around £25 to £40 per person per night, the dairy will sleep up to two people with a double bedroom, bathroom and a combined sitting room and dining room.
Mr Dick-Cleland has also revealed that the landmark building may be open to the local community once restored.
The specialist heritage insurance firm Ecclesiastical Insurance have pledged £1 for every £1 donated over the next six months up to a total of £200,000. For the remainder of the £954,000 grand total, the Landmark Trust are looking for donations - but are confident they can raise the funds to save the building over the next 12 months.