Two Christ Church developments win Oxford Preservation Trust Awards

Two Christ Church development projects have been lauded at this year’s Oxford Preservation Trust (OPT) Awards. The Awards ‘seek to recognise the contribution that projects, large and small, can make to Oxford’s character and communities.’ 

Founded in 1927, the Oxford Preservation Trust (OPT) is devoted to ‘look[ing] after Oxford’s built areas and its green setting, so that buildings can live on and Oxford’s rural setting is there for all to enjoy.’ The charity delivers events and outreach programmes to promote the conservation and sustainable evolution of Oxford, and it protects acres of Oxford’s natural spaces, as well as such historic buildings as the 17th-century cottages in St Ebbe’s (where their offices happen to be found), Shakespeare’s Painted Room and the restored Oxford Castle. 

This year’s OPT Awards Ceremony was held on Tuesday, and the Christ Church team was delighted to receive recognition for two development projects. A first certificate – a Green Award recognising a ‘contribution to a sustainable Oxford’ – was awarded for the installation of a ground source heat pump system servicing the Liddell Building. 

OPT Awards ceremony
Christ Church House Surveyor Jon Down (centre), pictured at the OPT Awards with the team from Sidleys, who advised on our two celebrated developments


The Liddell ground source heat pump project

In 2022–23 Christ Church completed a substantial project to provide a new source of heating and hot water to its portion of the Liddell Building, containing 69 student rooms, ancillary areas and the common room. It was decided to install two 80kW ground source heat pumps below a playing field.

The historic playing field, bequeathed to Christ Church by Henry VIII in 1546, was selected in part due to its lack of ecological value: the project, which required the boring of more than 50 holes at a depth of 68 metres, had minimal impact on wild spaces. 

The playing fields have now been restored to their former state, the ground source heat pumps providing a 66% reduction in energy consumption, saving over 24,800kg of carbon dioxide each year. This project is one of a number of initiatives Christ Church has launched to shrink its carbon footprint and make its historic buildings fit for the future

Liddell ground source heat pump
Early stages of the Liddell ground source heat pump project


The Old Library refurbishment project

Christ Church’s second OPT Award recognised the ‘contribution to Oxford’ of the Old Library refurbishment project, completed at the end of July 2022. 

The Old Library was originally the refectory of the priory of St Frideswide. Rebuilt or remodelled in the late 14th or early 15th century, it became Christ Church’s first library in the 1560s fitted out with furniture taken from the University Library. In the early 17th century the Old Library was refurbished thanks to a gift from London merchant Otho Nicholson, who also paid for the Hinksey and Carfax conduits supplying Oxford with fresh water. The painted roof panels installed at this time were only rediscovered in the 1950s.

After the New Library in Peckwater Quad was built in the 18th century, the Old Library was converted into residences for Students from Westminster School. Today it serves as student accommodation and a teaching space, as well as offering a unique opportunity for members of the public to stay in vacant student bedrooms outside of term time. 

The restoration of the Old Library involved extensive exterior and interior works. The external refurbishment included the recovery and insulation of the lead roof; repairs to the stonework; the introduction of graded access and automated door controls to the west end to facilitate access for all to the seminar room; and the addition of external decorations, window draught-proofing and lightning protection. 

Graded accessible access to the Old Library
Graded accessible access to the Old Library


The interior works to the Old Library included the replacement of mechanical and electrical systems; the restoration of the historic painted ceiling and pulpit; the introduction of en-suites to study bedrooms; the replacement of finishes and decorations; the addition of fire stopping, fire door upgrades, new fire alarms and emergency lighting; the installation of secondary glazing; and extension of the west staircase up to the third floor to provide a secondary means of escape. 

The painted ceiling of the Old Library
The painted ceiling of the Old Library


Conservation and sustainability

Christ Church is very pleased to have its commitment to sustainability and to conserving its historic inheritance recognised by the Oxford Preservation Trust. You can learn more about the balance stuck between advancing green initiatives and conservation on the Christ Church website