Keystone Historic Buildings Consultants

Who we areJohn Thorpe

Keystone is a small, independent partnership of historic buildings consultants established in 1989. The partners are John Thorp, a buildings archaeologist and IFA member, and Jo Cox, a buildings historian. Keystone is committed to the conservation and revival of buildings based on the best possible understanding of historic places. We combine close analysis of buildings and their contexts and documentary research as a basis for Joanna Coxprogrammes of repair, re-development and associated new design. We concentrate on providing a high standard of buildings analysis, research and assessment and place a high priority on writing reports that are reliable, well-illustrated, and free from jargon, designed as a good read for the house owner as well as the professional.

In the last twenty five years we have worked on a wide range of projects, large and small, putting together teams of specialists for larger projects and working in teams brought together by others. We both enjoy working personally on smaller jobs whether individual buildings and/or research targeted at a particular problem.

Our experience is practical and academic and includes working with English Heritage; the National Trust; Historic Building Trusts; railway companies; British Waterways; the Victoria County History; archaeological units; conservation architects; planning consultants; developers; contractors; engineers; Local Planning Authorities and, of course, private house owners.

Both partners are occasional lecturers and have published widely on aspects of conservation, building types, traditional building materials and individual buildings.

We have Professional Indemnity and Public Liability Insurances.

What we do

We offer a service both for private owners, and designed to complement the work of other professionals: architects, surveyors, engineers, planners, building managers, developers and craftsmen.

We can provide:

  • Building assessments and statements of significance required for listed building consent and planning
  • Documentary research on individual buildings, structures and whole sites
  • Watching briefs
  • Phased plans, measured drawings and record photography
  • Extensive and intensive survey work
  • Reports for feasibility studies
  • Studies identifying the impact of new development on historic sites
  • Material to support grant-aid applications
  • Guide books and presentation material
  • Thematic research, e.g. on building types.

In 1999 Keystone won a RICS Conservation Award as part of the team working on the repair of Cullacott Farmhouse, Werrington, Cornwall.

We have produced 19 well-received Conservation Management Plans, starting in 1999 with the ss Great Britain Trust on the ss Great Britain and her dockyard. After conservation and re-presentation the ship and dockyard won the Gulbenkian Museum of the Year award in 2006. Here is a sample of our other Conservation Management Plans and the clients we have worked with:

  • Exeter Cathedral, Devon for the Dean and Chapter
  • Cleeve Abbey, Washford, Somerset for English Heritage
  • Godolphin, Breage, Cornwall for the National Trust
  • The Hat Shop, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire for Tewkesbury Borough Council
  • Glastonbury Abbey, Somerset for the Abbey Trust
  • The Quakers Friars, Broadmead, Bristol for the Bristol Alliance
  • St James Priory, Bristol for the St James Priory Project
  • The Walronds, Cullompton, Devon for the Cullompton Walronds Preservation Trust.

We have also worked on Conservation Management Plans as part of teams led by Alan Baxter Associates (Tinside Pool and the Royal Citadel, both in Plymouth); led by Ferguson Mann Architects (Cardiff Castle); Architecton (Castle House Taunton) and Waterway Environment Services (the Kennet and Avon Canal).