Donald Insall Associates & Wentworth Woodhouse launches schools design challenge

  • | Anne-Marie Hayes

Donald Insall Associates and Wentworth Woodhouse have teamed up to launch a schools’ design challenge to celebrate the 300th anniversary of John Carr, the North’s greatest 18th-century architect


One of the 18th century’s finest neoclassical architects, John Carr of York made an important imprint on Britain’s heritage.

The hundreds of great houses, churches and public buildings he created in the 1700s were the style statements of their day.

Many still stand proudly as the 300th anniversary of his birth approaches on 28 April.

Painting of John Carr, by William Beechey © National Portrait Gallery, London

Grade I listed Wentworth Woodhouse in Rotherham owes much of its grandeur to Carr. To celebrate his achievements and encourage future talent, we have teamed with Wentworth Woodhouse and nine other John Carr sites across the North to launch the John Carr 300 Challenge.

Donald Insall Associates have recreated drawings of each beautiful building – from the oldest surviving stone racecourse grandstand in the world to the iconic Crescent in Buxton – and deliberately left out one important element.

The owners of these landmark buildings are each encouraging schools in their area to study Carr’s life – and task their students with completely redesigning the missing feature.

Carr carried out numerous  projects at Wentworth Woodhouse. He redesigned parts of the 606-feet long East Front, created its grand staircase, the estate’s Keppel’s Column, Needle’s Eye and Rockingham Mausoleum and the huge Stable Block.

Schools will be tasked with re-designing the Stable Block’s imposing central archway and clock tower.

“We want budding designers and architects of the future to let their imaginations run riot and create something exciting to go in its place. It could be strikingly modern, or influenced by architecture of the past; the choice is theirs,” said Jen Wall, Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust’s Skills Development and Learning Officer.

“Our challenge celebrates the work of one of Yorkshire’s most respected sons and aims to encourage creativity and career aspirations. The Trust is passionate about helping young people through education and plans to set more design challenges for schools in the future.”

Each site will work with us to choose winners from educational Key Stages 1, 2 and 3 at the end of June. The best designs will go on show at each site during the national Heritage Open Days festival in September.

Wentworth Woodhouse’s winners will be rewarded with a specially-arranged visit for their entire class to the house and gardens, including the newly-opening Forest of Bewilderment.

Chairman, Tony Barton, commented: “We are specialist conservation architects and are proud to have worked on some of John Carr’s magnificent buildings, including Wentworth Woodhouse’s roof, pavilions and Camellia House.

“Wouldn’t it be marvellous if this project inspires only one young person to train as a conservation architect, who works with us in the future, especially on a John Carr building, and follow in the footsteps of our brilliant trainee architects, Emma Chrystie-Lowe and Ryan Farrell, who produced the drawings for the John Carr 300 celebration?”

Take a look at the drawings which have been produced by Donald Insall Associates for the Challenge. The competition runs until the end of June.

Find out more about the design challenge in the Yorkshire Post here