King Of All He Surveys

James Fearn of Keats Fearn reflects that our newly crowned king may not have to worry about finding somewhere to live, but as Prince of Wales he became a champion of vernacular architecture, sustainable housing and property renovation.

King Charles III may have been made lifetime steward of many great houses and castles, but our new monarch has also shown that he is adept at identifying homes ripe for renovation.

While the king isn’t exactly short of funds, he has something equally important – a great eye. Additionally Charles has demonstrated enormous vision in vernacular architecture and town planning over the years.

As a first-time buyer the king’s entry into the property market was his Cotswolds home, Highgrove. Given a more classical facade and then subject to a garden transformation, Highgrove became a house fit for a future king. In carrying out the renovation Charles put into action his many thoughts on organic gardening and horticulture.

Using 400 acres of Duchy of Cornwall land adjacent to Dorchester, Charles, as the Prince of Wales, oversaw the planning and execution of Poundbury, an experimental town extension. This gave him the opportunity to re-examine many of the urban and rural planning ideas he outlined in his book, A Vision of Britain, published in 1989. Today Poundbury is no longer an experiment; it is a successful and thriving community of almost 6,000 residents with its own property micro market.

In saving Dumfries House in Scotland from being sold and the priceless contents scattered all over the world – a fate that has befallen so many of our great houses – King Charles not only protected for the nation an exceptional stately home but provided valuable jobs and training opportunities for the local community. The king’s drive to protect, skill to reimagine and instinct for sustainable housing has also been employed in properties in Wales, Cornwall and even Romania.

But in taking on these projects King Charles has done nothing more than we do when buying and bringing up-to-date property worthy of our love and attention. We mirror the king in conservation, investing for the future, providing work for local tradespeople and turning homes into castles.

Our king understands housing: our governments, of whichever persuasion, should try to do the same.

EMBARGOED UNTIL 0001 FRIDAY NOVEMBER 14, 2008. Official portrait to mark the 60th Birthday of The Prince of Wales, taken by photographer Hugo Burnand. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date date: Thursday November 13, 2008. See PA story ROYAL Birthday. Mandatory photo credit: Hugo Burnand/PA Wire