We bought Old Duchy Palace, a Grade I listed 700-year-old building, in 2009 to save it from dereliction. We have worked with the Cornwall Buildings Preservation Trust (CBPT) to restore and regenerate it, and CBPT is now running the building, having taken it on a long lease.
The Palace was built by Edmund Earl of Cornwall in 1292. In 1337, the Black Prince became the first Duke of Cornwall and made this Palace his administrative centre. From here the Duchy was managed and developed a strong association with the tin mining industry.
In 1878, it became a Freemasons’ temple and remained as such until 2008. The Palace is a substantial building constructed of local stone and characterised by stepped buttresses and 13th century-style Gothic windows. The impressive heritage site was on the Buildings at Risk register but has now been removed following the conclusion of the building phase of the project, which cost around £1m.
We acquired the building to save its unique heritage and develop it into a mixed-use space that will benefit the local community and economy. The building has been repaired on a like-for-like basis using traditional materials and practices: the slate roof has been reslated, the Masonic details are retained and the existing concrete floor has been overlaid with new slate paving. We have ensured the building is energy efficient by aiming for a BREEAM rating (the environmental assessment and rating system) of ‘Very Good’.
Training in craftsmanship has been key to the project. We created opportunities throughout the works, including training for local people through practical lime training days, and placements for The Prince’s Foundation’s craft apprentices. One of these apprentices assisted a highly-skilled local craftsman in carving the oak feathers, which have pride of place on top of the roof.
Construction was completed in July 2013 and the building was opened by HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.