Here’s a juicy historic preservation story: Vacuum magnate and fancy-gadget man Sir James Dyson gets to keep the swimming pool he installed at his vast Georgian country estate, despite failing to secure proper permissions from the authorities beforehand. Must be nice, being a fancy-gadget man!
Back in September, various British outlets reported that Dyson—who owns more land than the Queen—had added a swimming pool estimated to be worth £1 million to his Gloucestershire country home, Dodington Park. It is underneath the orangery, in a space that had been a concrete-floor cafe when the estate was open to the public, according to the Bristol Post. The Daily Mail described the pool in loving detail:
The 8ft-wide bathing pool, lined with Carrara marble imported from Tuscany, is enclosed within the house’s original arched Bath stone and red-brick walls.
With uplights set into the limestone floor, the 4ft-deep pool curves round from a circular bathing area, past oak doors, until it reaches a fountain statue in a stone basin.
Sounds luxe! Problem is, the 18th century manor house is a Grade I-listed historic property—the strictest designation, marking it a building “of exceptional interest”—and when it comes to historic preservation, the United Kingdom apparently does not play around. The Bristol Post explained that “he bypassed authorities on the one-year project—an offence which is potentially punishable by two years in prison or an unlimited fine.” You can’t just run around adding swimming pools willy-nilly to Grade I-listed buildings. You can’t, anyway, but Dyson can.
The Daily Mail is back with an update. Dyson submitted a retrospective planning application to the South Gloucestershire Council. After Historic England granted that the work had only caused “limited harm” and the council decided it hadn’t affected the character of the property, the alteration was approved. However, a spokesperson noted that, “We would urge individuals to seek advice from their local planning authority before carrying out any alterations.”
But where does he keep the laboratory where he dreams up wildly expensive yet somehow irresistible new household appliances? And is this 18th century baronial pile maintained exclusively by Dyson appliances or does he prefer old-fashioned elbow grease? So many questions remain.