Award for stunning home built inside a ruined castle


Astley Castle

A holiday home, built amidst the ruins of Warwickshire's Astley Castle, has won a major architectural prize for the best new building of the year. It's the first time that a conservation project has won, and the first time a house has taken the title.

But what's so special about it, and would you want to stay?

The home

The project started with a ruined 12th century castle. The castle has a powerful history, and was home to the first Yorkist queen, Elizabeth, who was the subject of The White Queen novel and recent BBC production. It was also the home of Lady Jane Grey, who famously took the throne for just nine days.

However, it was in a terrible state. It had been partially destroyed by fire in 1978 and left to go to ruin. Some walls were standing, but others were in the process of collapse, and some had gone altogether.

Instead of rebuilding it, the architects decided to build a brand new home inside the ruin. It incorporates some of the walls, and retains some of the period features. However, it doesn't try to match the style of the property - not least because the original building features a number of different styles. Instead it is altogether more modern - and aims to complement it.

The judges of the RIBA Stirling Prize

It was an enormous project, because the ruins had to be stabilised first. It was orchestrated by the Landmark Trust, which rescues buildings of historic importance, who also raised £2.5 million for the work from the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage.

The Landmark Trust rents stunning holiday accommodation in historic properties, but this is the first time it has built a new property inside a ruin.

Would you stay?

The property now provides accommodation for up to eight people in an incredible building. It has an impressive kitchen, is furnished tastefully and has an enormous amount of space for entertaining.

It's not the cheapest place in the world to stay. Prices start at £675, and go up beyond £1,200 for a three or four night stay. However, it's not exorbitant either. At the cheapest end of the spectrum you'll be paying £21 per person per night, and at the most expensive around £55.

The real issue is that because it's an award winner, you'll be waiting quite some time for availability. The next slots are in October 2015 - two years away.

In the meantime, you could always go for one of the organisation's other properties nearby, such as Alton Station - a converted station (complete with platform) near Alton Towers, which sleeps eight people and starts at £12 per person per night for a four night stay. Or there's Ingestre Pavilion - a 1752 building in grounds landscaped by Capability Brown, which sleeps six and costs from £15 per person per night for a four night stay.