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Uplands, Cryers Hill

PROJECT 2013-1 : SUMMER 2013

AIM: To produce a social and architectural history of Uplands as an argument against plans for its demolition.

RESEARCH AND REPORT: Marian Miller

Uplands new and old Uplands in 2013, showing modern and Victorian fronts side-by-side.

Uplands started life as a country house built in 1859 by a Captain Hewett, Adjutant of the Royal Bucks King's Own Militia. The design has been attributed to the ‘rogue’ architect, Edward Buckton Lamb, who was once an honorary member of our own Buckinghamshire Archaeological Society.

Lamb worked on several churches and other buildings in the county, including Chequers, now the country house of prime ministers, but he is best known for remodelling the house of the Victorian prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, Hughenden Manor, which is directly opposite Uplands on the other side of the Hughenden Valley.

In June 2013 a planning application was made by the construction company Redrow Homes to demolish Uplands, which is currently owned by the De Vere hotels group, and to replace it with 16 large detached four and five-bedroom houses. The Bucks Archaeological Society has lodged an objection to this proposed demolition.

In 1900 Uplands was bought by the banker Thomas Somers Vernon Cocks, whose brother, Alfred Heneage, was a well-known antiquary, a past Secretary of BAS and a regular contributor to our journal, Records of Buckinghamshire. So we can claim a link, if somewhat tenuous, with Uplands.

Aerial view of Uplands In the 1950s Uplands began a new lease of life as a training centre for the Nationwide Building Society.

Then in the 1980s the eminent architect Edward Cullinan created a new complex for the building society, leaving the principal part of the old house as the centre and focal point of new buildings arranged rather like a college-campus. The architecture was highly praised at the time and its quality recognised by awards from Wycombe District Council and the Civic Trust.
   An aerial view of the mansion in the 1970s

In its application for demolition, Redrow claims that the hotel business is not viable, even though the evidence of its own report shows that the venue is well-used.

A report on the history of Uplands by the BAS Historic Buildings Group demonstrates that the buildings represent a ‘heritage asset’ with both historic and architectural interest which deserves conservation, not demolition.

There is also other considerable local opposition to the proposal, including the Chiltern Society, the High Wycombe Society, Hughenden Parish Council and local residents' associations.