2004: Victorian stairs to be ripped out

A Victorian staircase at an historic manor house in Purbeck is to be ripped out despite calls from conservationists that it should be saved. Purbeck district councillors approved the plan after a visit to Afflington Manor Farm at Corfe Castle, once an important property in the 17th century which oversaw the manor of Afflington. The grade II listed building has undergone alterations over the centuries but had fallen into disrepair in recent years.

It has been bought by the Scott family – former owners of Encombe estate which they sold in 2002 for a reported £16 million. A complex planning application seeking a series of alterations to Afflington Manor Farm had already been approved by Purbeck district’s planning committee. Planning chiefs have now agreed to a separate application seeking permission to remove a nineteenth century staircase to allow the creation of a void for new stairs to give the impression of a ‘grand hallway.’

The scheme was opposed by Purbeck district council’s conservation expert along with English Heritage and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. Conservationists argued that the staircase was worth preserving to show how the house had developed over the centuries. At a planning committee meeting to decide on the application, Cllr Fred Drane said: “It does not appear to me to be something of great importance. I would suggest we allow the staircase to be removed.”

Cllr Malcolm Shakesby said: “There is nothing in what we have got here that recommends me to think it’s worth preserving – it has got no beauty in my mind at all.” After hearing that English Heritage had not visited the house, Cllr Shakesby commented: “If English Heritage are going to make these sorts of decisions they should take the trouble to investigate it.”

Daily Echo (Bournemouth , Wednesday 3 March 2004

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