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MawsonKerr completes café in grounds of historic Yorkshire priory

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The timber-framed structure at Mount Grace Priory uses reclaimed oak and slate, and is designed to form a series of outdoor rooms

This new café sits within the grounds of Mount Grace Priory, Northallerton, North Yorkshire. The priory is the most complete surviving Carthusian monastery in Britain, dating back to the 14th century. It comprises a small church, a later manor house and a ‘great cloister’ that is surrounded by a series of monk’s cells, originally designed for their residents to live in solitude.

The café is sited within metres of the scheduled ancient monument of the original Priory ruins and is part of a larger redevelopment of the grounds by landscape designer Chris Beardshaw. It accommodates seating for 48 covers, 18 of which are inside and 30 outside, all with views to the ruins and newly replanted orchard, and includes a full commercial kitchen and accessible WC.

Mount Grace Priory Jill Tate 03

Mount Grace Priory Jill Tate 03

Source: Jill Tate

The café has been designed to form a series of ‘outdoor rooms’, and provides a combination of interior space and external canopied space, which caters for both English Heritage members and ‘muddy boot’ walkers visiting the site.

The timber structure references the traditional woodworking techniques, vernacular forms and traditional materials evidenced in the original priory. Its double-pitched roof form refers to the repeating pitched forms of the monks’ cells. The eastern elevation is formed of an oak screen manufactured from unused 30-year-old oak boards, while the slate material for the roof and external walls was sourced from a reclaimed stock of local slate, selected as a material requiring low levels of maintenance and easily replaced.

Mount Grace Priory Jill Tate 14

Mount Grace Priory Jill Tate 14

Architect’s view

The design features a reclaimed solid oak screen on its north elevation. This has been designed to reference the repeating gables and boundary walls of the monks’ cells of Mount Grace Priory. Traditional joinery details including mortise and tenon joints have been implemented to connect the construction techniques to the historic context of the Arts and Crafts manor house attached to the priory. The oak screen was manufactured from 30-year-old oak boards found at an English Heritage store at nearby Helmsley. Much attention has been paid to the detailing of the reclaimed slate roof and external walls to create a simple, elegant, pitched roof form. This allows the building to be interpreted as a contemporary addition to the context.

Dan Kerr, director, MawsonKerr

MawsonKerr Mount Grace Priory Cafe Plan

MawsonKerr Mount Grace Priory Cafe Plan

Source: MawsonKerr


Project data

Start on Site October 2017
Completion Date April 2018
Gross internal floor area 50m2
Gross (internal and external floor area) 150m2
Form of contract JCT Intermediate with Contractor Design 2016
Construction cost £323,000 (Including wider externals and infrastructure)
Construction cost per m2 £2,153 (including canopy externals)
Architect MawsonKerr Architects
Project architect Daniel Kerr
Client English Heritage
Structural engineer James Christopher Consulting
M+E consultant SINE Consulting
Quantity surveyor RNJ Partnership
Catering consultant Cooper 8
Landscape consultant Chris Beardshaw (for Gardens)
CDM co-ordinator MawsonKerr Architects
Approved building inspector STMC Building Control
Main contractor Brims Construction
CAD software used AutoCAD, Sketchup

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Readers' comments (1)

  • The only close-up image doesn't show enough of the wall, but it looks as if a great deal of attention would've had to be paid to the detailing of the exposed frames - particularly that of the internally clad gable - if future weathering problems are to be avoided.

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