Reprinted from Newsletter 96, dated 2000 July–August

Our new garage — to befit a listed house in Bovetown

Derek Hankins

Four men of various ages stand on scaffolding in front of a tiled roof. They each hold a drink.

“We had our own topping-out ceremony,” says Derek Hankins, to equal that for the town’s new library. “Both architect and builder succeeded in the brief we gave them.”

I have been asked for some background about the new stone-built double garage beside our house — Blake House, 3 Bovetown — on the corner of Rowley Road.

We are conscious of the privilege of living in such an architecturally unique old house. The outer walls of Abbey stone are some 27 inches thick and were built more than three centuries ago. Francis Blake, a mayor of Glastonbury and a distant relative of Admiral Blake, probably gave the house its name.

At that time, our house and the adjoining house were one. It must have been quite an imposing building owning most of the surrounding land. In 1900 it was divided into two dwellings and then, I believe, major extensions were added.

Living in a Grade II listed building in a conservation area carries responsibilities. Any alterations or additions to the property require listed-building approval. This can be time-consuming and expensive but is a price worth paying.

We had endeavoured for many years to acquire the small plot of land where our new garage stands, and in 1998 we finally were able to purchase it. The plot had long been an eyesore, covered in weeds and grass, and a dumping ground for rubbish and a venue for the exercise of dogs.

First, we needed a sympathetic architect and were fortunate in finding Colin Dawson. He expertly guided us through the listed-building planning procedure. His plans for the building were in keeping with this sensitive site. The walls are built with old stone, the roof covered with weathered double-roman tiles and the specially made gable ends match those on the house.

Putting plans into effect is another thing. Here we were again fortunate to enlist the services of David Bisgrove, who has a family tradition in high-class building work (his father restored the cemetery chapels).

It was a major problem for David to find suitable stone, collect it, sort it and use it. The right kind of tiles of shape and colour were also difficult to find but found they were and, not to be outdone by Glastonbury’s new library building we had our own topping-out ceremony! (photo).

It had been our major concern that the new garage should enhance this site. From the unanimously favourable comments we have received, many from total strangers, we believe our architect and builder have succeeded in the brief we gave them.