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Dyrham Conservation Area


A conservation area is an area of ‘special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’. Once designated, the local planning authority has a statutory duty to ensure that any proposed development will preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the conservation area and its setting.

Dyrham was designated a conservation area on the 30th July 1975. A Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) appraisal leaflet was published following the conservation areas designation. This document is not a review of such, but sets out the information as produced in an accessible format supported by current policy context, pictures and mapping.

Policy context

Local authorities have had the ability to designate locations of ‘special architectural or historic interest’ as conservation areas since 1967 when introduced as part of the Civic Amenities Act. Section 69 (2) of the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation) Act 1990 legislates that authorities are to carry out reviews of existing conservation areas from ‘time to time’. Section 72 also states that ‘special attention shall be paid to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of that area’. Guidance on conservation area appraisals and the management of conservation areas is produced by Heritage England.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out national planning policy and must be taken into account in the preparation of local and neighbourhood plans, and is a material consideration in planning decisions. The NPPF defines conservation areas as ‘Heritage Assets’ and sets out in Para 126 that local authorities should ‘recognise that heritage assets are an irreplaceable resource and should conserve them in a manner appropriate to their significance’. Para 127 states that when designating conservation areas local planning authorities should ensure the area justifies this status because of its special architectural or historic interest.
South Gloucestershire has 31 conservation areas, and there are a number of policies within the Council’s Local Plan documents that are relevant. South Gloucestershire Local Plan 2006 saved policy L12 requires development within or affecting the conservation area to preserve or enhance its character or appearance. Further to this policy L13 states that development affecting the setting of a Listed Building will not be permitted unless ‘the building and its setting would be preserved’. South Gloucestershire Core Strategy 2006-2027 sets out in CS9 that the ‘natural and historic environment is a finite and irreplaceable resource’, and expects that new development will conserve, respect and enhance heritage assets.

The emerging Polices, Sites and Places (PSP) Plan policy PSP18 states that development should ‘serve to protect, and where appropriate, enhance or better reveal the significance of heritage assets and their setting’ and ‘development within their [listed buildings] setting will be expected to preserve and, where appropriate enhance…their special architectural or historic interest’. It should be noted the PSP Plan is currently a material consideration and at this time very limited weight is given to policies.


The small village of Dyrham is situated eight miles north of Bath on the western edge of the Cotswold escarpment. The River Boyd runs through the village and Dyrham is famous for its baroque mansion, Dyrham Park which is grade I Listed (see figure 1).

Dyrham lies within the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is also covered by Green Belt policies. The Cotswold Way passes through the village and Dyrham Park grounds which are listed on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens.

Figure: Dyrham House and grounds

Figure: Dyrham House and grounds


Dyrham’s long history goes back to 577 when Cuthwine and Ceawlin, two Saxon leaders, fought against the Britons and killed three of their Kings, Conmail, Condidan and Farinmail on the site.

Dyrham Park completely replaces a late medieval house of the Denys family and until 1957 was the home of the Blathwayt family. Dyrham Park is now under the protection of the National Trust. William Blathwayt married Mary Wynter, heiress to the property in 1686. He was an influential diplomat and civil servant who spent much time abroad. Blathwayt’s house was built by two architects, William Talman and the French Samuel Hauderoy.

Hauderoy built the west front which now faces the formal gardens as an addition to the medieval house and it was probably finished in 1694 (see figure 2). The stable block followed (see figure 3), designed by Talman and largely supervised by Edward Wilcox, the foreman. Much more radical was the addition of the east front in pure baroque style which took the place of the older house.

Figure 2: West Front of Dyrham House

Figure 2: West Front of Dyrham House

Figure 3: Part of the stable block

Figure 3: Part of the stable block

This was Talman’s work between 1698 and 1704. The monumental orangery (see figure 4) which continues the main east front cleverly hides the stables behind and was started in 1701 by Talman.

Within the house there are many 17th century treasures including tapestries, furniture and paintings, many of which are Dutch in origin. William Blathwayt was Secretary of State to William II and travelled frequently to the Netherlands.


Figure 4: The Orangery to the East of the main

Figure 4: The Orangery to the East of the main


The magnificent gardens (see figures 5 and 7) were originally laid out in the Dutch manner by George Loudon but were influenced by Repton. Indeed, the park was famous for its water gardens and to the east of the house there used to be a cascade of 224 steps running down towards the house. The house and grounds are open to the public.
Figures 5 to 7: Formal gardens of Dyrham House.
The Church of St. Peter (grade I Listed) nestles against the side of the hill, alongside the house to the west (see figure 8). It is a charming church of the mid-13th century containing a Norman font (see figure 9) and medieval features including tiles and stained glass (see figure 10).
Figure 8: St. Peter Church sitting west of Dyrham House

Figure 8: St. Peter Church sitting west of Dyrham House

Figure 9: Norman font

Figure 9: Norman font

Figure 10: Stain glass window

Figure 10: Stain glass window


Circa 1880 Ordnance Survey map Dyrham
Circa 1880 Ordnance Survey map Dyrham

Circa 1880 Ordnance Survey map Dyrham


Dyrham village clusters around the church and walled grounds of the manor house. The winding lanes and hilly ground add much to the rural character of the village. Many cottages and houses are of the 17th and 18th centuries including the 17th century Rectory (grade II Listed, see figure 11).

Figure 11: The Old Rectory

Figure 11: The Old Rectory


The village to the west follows the line of two narrow lanes on either side of the River Boyd (see figures 12 and 13). This descends by a series of waterfalls and flows underneath the village street (see figures 14 and 15). To the north and east of the village the steep wooded slopes enclose the village (see figures 16 and 17).
Narrow lanes through Dyrham
Figures 12 and 13. Narrow lanes through Dyrham
Figures 12 and 13. Narrow lanes through Dyrham
A stream adjacent to lanes through Dyrham
Figures 14 and 15: Waterfall and streams adjacent to lanes through Dyrham
Figures 16 and 17. Views north towards slopes enclosing the village
The grounds of Dyrham Park (see figure 18) contribute to the setting of the village, the walls of the park being a particular feature of note (see figure 19). To the west of the house a small cascade and two lakes provide a pleasing contrast with the sounds of the waterfall adding to the tranquil scene. To the east of the house, within the park, a splendid statue of Neptune by C.C.Gibber is situated. The tree topped hills of the park including oak, beech, ash and sweet chestnut and the avenue of limes along the church walk provide picturesque views within a more formal setting.

Figure 18. Dyrham Park


Figure 19. Walls of Dyrham Park

In recent years Dyrham has changed quite radically. From being a feudal hamlet with a resident squire to a commuter village, being conveniently located for major transport routes. Although infilling and new development has taken place, Dyrham still retains its charm and unique character. The buildings, utilising local materials such as Cotswold stone and ranging in size from small cottages to the grander houses, provide variety and interest (see figures 20 to 24).





Figures 20 to 24: Examples of Cotswold Stone buildings and walls in Dyrham conservation area

Summary map

A map of Dyrham



The council is keen to work with the local community and other parties to help preserve and enhance this special area. If you wish to assist in any manner or have any further suggestions, please let us know.

For further information or advice please contact:

Conservation Officer
Strategic Planning Policy and Specialist Advice Team
South Gloucestershire Council
PO Box 2081
South Gloucestershire
BS35 9BP

Telephone: 01454 863578