Guide to Relocating Your Valuable Artwork when Moving to a Historic London Property

27th September 2021
Guide to Relocating Your Valuable Artwork when Moving to a Historic London Property

Moving to London is a truly exciting process. Rich in history and culture, the metropolis has some wonderful properties to offer, from ultra-modern to historic Grade I, II* or II listed buildings. It’s also a prime destination for art lovers, and many of our customers already own precious artwork. Fortunately, fine art removals is a Cadogan Tate speciality. In this post, we’ll take a look at the rewards and challenges of moving yourself and your art collection into one of London’s historic houses.

Listed life

Owning a historic building is a special privilege, and one to which many people aspire. However, it isn’t the easy option by any means. Buy a non-listed building (which covers approximately 98% of all housing stock in England) and, as long as your local planning authority approves, you can adapt your home to your needs. But if you buy a property within that coveted 2%, the onus is on you to adapt your lifestyle to your home. Making changes to a listed building is, in principle, doable. But it can be complicated. Certain changes will be excluded altogether, and there are serious consequences for operating without consent.

Just how complicated it is will depend on the unique nature of your property, the nature of the alterations, and the grade allocated to the building. Grade I listed buildings are those deemed to be of exceptional historic importance, and they constitute only about 2.5% per cent of all listed properties. Applying to alter a Grade I listed building generally means that your local planning authority is required to consult Historic England before permission can be granted.

However, it’s comparatively unlikely that your new London home will be Grade I listed, since this tiny percentage includes Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, the Palace of Westminster and many other national heritage sites. Grade II* is also a fairly small category, at around 5.8%. These buildings are also deemed to be especially important, and here, too, alterations are subject to Historic England’s approval.

Challenges and opportunities with Grade II listed buildings

The vast majority of listed buildings – over 90% – are Grade II. As a rule, these are historic properties that more or less retain their original condition, but that do not in themselves have any special national significance. ‘Original condition’ can mean exposed beams, a thatched roof, an open fireplace – any number of desirable features. It can also mean antiquated fixtures and fittings, draughty windows, a thriving spider population, damp, and so on. The easy fixes you could carry out on a modern property require careful management to make sure they don’t compromise the integrity of the house. Suddenly you don’t just need a reliable builder, plumber or painter-decorator: you need a thatcher, or a historic masonry specialist, or a stained-glass conservator.

It’s undoubtedly a challenge at times. But for many people, the joy of getting to live in a historic home more than justifies the care and outlay involved. Before you decide to buy a listed property, however, there are questions you should ask. It’s important to know what kind of maintenance is going to be required, and whether there are any issues, like damp or poor insulation, that will affect your quality of living. It’s also crucial to find out whether any unauthorised changes have been made in the past. This is because, as the new owner, you will be held legally responsible if and when these are discovered. If you have alterations in mind, it’s also worth talking to your local Conservation Officer to see whether they’re feasible, at least in principle.

A new home for your art collection

Your historic property isn’t the only thing that will require careful treatment. Once you’ve chosen your new home, it’s time to plan how to move your most treasured possessions. Fine art and antiques require specialist handling to make sure that they arrive at their destination safe and sound.

Whether your collection centres on painting, sculpture, furniture, ceramics, antique artefacts, or something else entirely, the risk factors are the same. These include impact, vibration, environmental factors (dust, damp, extreme temperatures), unnecessary handling, and so on. There’s also a risk of your prized artworks being lost or stolen in transit or storage.

You can find plenty of instructions online about how to pack artwork to minimise damage. Appropriately sized boxes, plenty of padding and judicious use of masking tape can certainly ward off a lot of risk when it comes to the integrity of the piece itself. However, 60% of claims for art damage actually arise from the transportation process. This means that you need to give careful thought to who is actually moving your art, and how. What safeguards do you have against something going wrong in transit? And how can you be assured that your art will be safe from theft and environmental damage if it has to spend time in temporary storage along the way?

Choosing a specialist for fine art removals

It isn’t just about the material cost – although that matters too, of course. There’s no way to replace a unique work of art. So it’s important to minimise the chances of loss by planning for every eventuality – and ideally, entrusting your collection to a specialist fine art removals company.

An experienced service provider – like Cadogan Tate – will have everything in place to ensure that your artworks are protected at every stage of the move. Highly trained staff, climate-controlled environments, custom-made packing materials and a comprehensive logistics strategy are all necessary elements of the process. And if you’re moving to London from abroad, your removals company should also be able to deal with customs, and provide bonded storage as necessary, while clearance is obtained.

Fine art and historic properties are valuable in more ways than one. To enjoy them is a great privilege, and more than worth the time and money required. But they are also delicate assets that require careful maintenance and handling. A reliable specialist removals firm will ensure that your investment doesn’t go to waste. For more details about Cadogan Tate’s services or to obtain a bespoke quotation, just contact us.

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