Prince Charles’s favourite architect is embroiled in a row over claims that the view that inspired one of Constable’s most famous paintings will be ruined by a house critics have branded a ‘Poundshop Versailles’.
Quinlan Terry, known as Britain’s ‘high priest of classical architecture’, has complained about the £7million mansion being built by Craig Bisson, 41, and his wife Nicole.
The project to extend the couple’s existing property has also led to a fall-out between Mr Terry, 83, and his son, Francis, 51, who has his own rival classical architecture business.
Prince Charles’s favourite architect is embroiled in a row over claims that the view that inspired one of Constable’s most famous paintings will be ruined by a house critics have branded a ‘Poundshop Versailles’
Mr Terry Snr has said Jersey-born lawyer Mr Bisson approached him in 2016 but subsequently employed his son, who had just left him to set up on his own.
He had assumed his son was helping with ‘repairs’, not a massive extension. The existing property has commanding views over Dedham Vale in Suffolk, depicted by the landscape painter John Constable, who lived there.
But the Bissons’ creation of a neo-classical country pile has offended some local residents, who say it clashes with the historic English landscape in picturesque Higham on the Suffolk side of the border with Essex. They have dubbed it a ‘Poundshop Versailles’, referring to Louis XIV’s extravagant palace in France.
The Bissons are adding two wings, a swimming pool, formal gardens and a tree-lined driveway to their property, and changed its name from Masons Lodge to Higham Park. They also want a stable block and riding school.
Mr Terry’s protest is backed by Charles Clover, chairman of the Dedham Vale Society, who said: ‘Constable would turn in his grave if he knew his beloved Dedham Vale is being desecrated by a Poundshop Versailles.
Quinlan Terry, known as Britain’s ‘high priest of classical architecture’, has complained about the £7million mansion being built by Craig Bisson, 41, and his wife Nicole (who are both pictured above)
‘He loved the workaday modesty of this part of the English countryside and depicted a harmonious society, not the gaudy excess that led to revolution in France.’
The row has intensified with the involvement of Mr Terry, who has been praised by Prince Charles and was awarded a CBE in the 2015 New Year Honours List. He helped to design Poundbury, the prince’s traditionalist village in Dorset, and remodelled 10 Downing Street for Margaret Thatcher.
Mr Terry has complained to planning chiefs about the scale of the Bissons’ dream home.
He also questioned whether there was proper notification of the scheme in Higham, where Mr Bisson took over as chairman of the ‘parish meeting’ – a form of parish council – in 2019.
Constable’s painting is seen above
Ironically, it was Mr Terry who in 2003 designed the original house Mr Bisson is extending.
In his letter to Babergh District Council, he said he ‘reluctantly’ agreed to replace a ‘cottage’ with a ‘small home’ for a previous owner to stop it spoiling the view from his own residence, Higham Hall.
Mr Terry objected to the council’s earlier decision to allow the Bissons to build a ‘large extension either side (two wings), summerhouse and bothy’.
He also criticised its new name, Higham Park, and is leading a local fight to stop new plans to add a riding school.
In his letter, Mr Terry questioned Mr Bisson’s conduct, saying: ‘The reason we [villagers] have not been aware of these increases is that the chairman of the parish who receives the notification and has a duty to circulate them in the parish happens to be the applicant. The proposals were not circulated.’
A formal objection by the Dedham Vale Society accuses the Bissons of ‘salami slicing’ their planning applications to ‘minimise the extreme mass and aggressively intrusive’ nature of their project.
Mr Clover wants Mr Bisson to quit as parish meeting chairman.
Experts estimate that Higham Park will be worth around £7million by the time the Bissons’ extension project is completed.
Mrs Bisson, who has two young daughters, wrote on social media in 2016: ‘We are those awful people – the neighbours who have decided to dig a basement under their house.
‘It’s dreadful in some respects, but with a growing family comes a need for more space and the stamp duty changes have made moving house prohibitively pricey.’
Not all villagers oppose the Bissons’ plans. ‘There’s a few snobs round here,’ said one. ‘I like the new house. We need nice young families like the Bissons.’
Mr Bisson said yesterday that Higham Park was ‘bigger’ than before but would be ‘softened into the landscape’.
He added that he ‘cared passionately’ about protecting Dedham Vale and described Mr Terry as ‘an amazing architect and artist’.
Francis and Quinlan Terry are pictured together. The project to extend the couple’s existing property has also led to a fall-out between Mr Terry, 83, and his son, Francis, 51, who has his own rival classical architecture business
The Versailles Palace in France is pictured above. Mr Terry’s protest is backed by Charles Clover, chairman of the Dedham Vale Society, who said: ‘Constable would turn in his grave if he knew his beloved Dedham Vale is being desecrated by a Poundshop Versailles’
He firmly rejected Mr Terry Snr’s criticism of his conduct as parish chairman. ‘The suggestion that I used my position as parish chairman is absolutely not true. I wasn’t chairman when I put the planning applications in [for the house],’ he said.
He defended his new application for a stables and riding school, saying: ‘This is an equine parish. Lots of people ride.’
He declined to comment on Mr Clover’s description of the house as a ‘Poundshop Versailles’.
There is no suggestion by the Daily Mail of any wrongdoing by Mr Bisson.
Additional reporting: Owen Bennett
This post was first published on DailyMail.