THE Great Barn at Bolton Abbey has been named the best commercial building project in the UK.

The wedding venue was named winner at the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Awards grand final held at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London and hosted by Samira Ahmed, journalist and BBC broadcaster.

More than 90 of the country's most outstanding and community beneficial property schemes went head-to-head in the contest which celebrates the UK’s most inspirational built projects, and for having a significant positive impact on the communities they serve.

Category winners – of all sizes and budgets - from each of the 12 regional RICS award ceremonies held earlier this year, competed in the grand final for the chance to win the national accolade in their respective category.

The transformation of Bolton Abbey’s 16th century Tithe barn – one of the largest medieval barns in the country - into a wedding venue won the national commercial property accolade. Earlier this year it won two category accolades at its regional heat - building conservation and commercial property – before gaining the overall ‘Project of the Year, Yorkshire and Humber’ title at the RICS Awards, Yorkshire and Humber held in May.

“We are thrilled to win,” said Ben Heyes, Director of the Bolton Abbey Estate.  “It took five years to do all the necessary research and planning work, since the Barn is a Grade II* Listed Building and Scheduled Monument in a Conservation Area in a National Park.  We are therefore endebted to Historic England, the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the rest of the team for their help and hard work.”

RICS grand final judges praised the project team behind The Great Barn – Bolton Abbey Estate, Cripps and Co, Pearce Bottomley Architects and Universal Projects (UK) – for sensitively restoring the Grade II-listed property and transforming it into arguably one of the finest wedding barn properties in the country, which is now generating 13 times more rental income for the estate.

National RICS Judge, Richard Moxon FRICS of Pennycuick Collins added: “The Bolton Abbey Estate committed in excess of £2 million from its own funds to transform the building, increase the rental income tenfold and achieve payback within seven years. The confidence given by this project has boosted the local area and paved the way for further investment in other developments.”

Situated on a ridge overlooking the River Wharfe, and owned by the Bolton Abbey Estate, the barn was built in 1519 to store produce for Bolton Priory, with teams of oxen pulling into place the giant oak “A” frames that support its magnificent roof structure.  It is one of the largest and best preserved medieval aisled barns in England, and now a major wedding venue run by the Cripps Group, wedding barn specialists since 1990. 

The refurbished building won the Best Commercial Project from the RICS at a special ceremony at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London last week.  This follows its success earlier this year, when it won three regional awards from the RICS as well as two from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).


The transformation of the barn from a cluttered agricultural store into a magical wedding venue was described by the national RICS judges as “exemplary”.  They also praised the project team behind it, which included Pearce Bottomley Architects, Lichfields and Universal Projects, for sensitively restoring the listed structure and transforming it into arguably one of the finest wedding barn properties in the country.

“This is great news,” added Mark Henriques, Head of Cripps.  “The barn is a magnificent building in the most stunning setting.  We are absolutely delighted to be the operator, and to make this marvellous building accessible to so many.”