COVID-19 Update

We would like to thank all staff, tenants, contractors and business partners for their continued support as we adapt our working practices during the current health crisis. The Duchy of Lancaster is continuing to maintain a limited presence in our offices in London and Lancaster in line with Government guidance on social distancing. The majority of our business functions are now being run remotely or from home.

A letter was sent to all tenants in mid-March outlining these new working practices and providing details for the key contacts managing our estates across England and Wales.

As indicated in that same letter all non-essential visits have been halted and we will only undertake essential repair, maintenance or compliance work while the current restrictions are in force. Where such works do prove necessary these will be undertaken by approved contractors working to stringent health and safety rules to protect both our tenants and themselves.

We would ask tenants to keep us informed of any material change to their personal circumstances. This will mean that we can work with you at the earliest opportunity to identify appropriate sources of advice and support.

We appreciate that this will be a very difficult and unsettling time for many and would urge everyone to continue to observe Government guidance in order to keep themselves safe and well.

Any further updates will be posted on the news pages of our website.

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In line with Government advice around the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK, the Duchy of Lancaster is now operating a rota system for office-based staff. We are working with our tenants and business partners to ensure that all areas of the business continue to operate normally while safeguarding all parties. Any further updates will be posted here on the news pages of our website.

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Embroidery Workshop Opens At Lancaster Castle

A well-known needlework and embroidery expert currently appearing on BBC TV’s The Repair Shop has opened her own workshop at Lancaster Castle.

Sara Dennis is a tutor of hand embroidery who regularly teaches at the Royal School of Needlework and whose classes have been held at historic national venues such as London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, The British Library and Hampton Court Palace. As well as teaching, exhibiting and managing her private commissions, Sara is a regular member of the team of experts featured on the popular BBC TV show The Repair Shop. She appeared in series 5 of the programme when using her skills to repair a huge 100 year old hand-stitched bedspread.

Now resident in Lancaster, Sara has for several years had her own dedicated workshop in Farfield Mill, Sedburgh. Earlier this month she moved that base to Lancaster Castle and set up shop in the ground floor of the famous Well Tower (or Witches Tower) in which the Lancashire Witches were incarcerated while awaiting trial in 1612.

Commenting on the move, Sara said: “My husband and I live just alongside Lancaster Castle so have been watching the renovations being carried out here with great interest. Once the refurbished courtyards and new spaces were revealed at the end of last year, we could both see how fabulous it would be to be part of this wonderful heritage asset and to play our part in bringing some of these historic spaces back to life. After a series of conversations with the Duchy of Lancaster we were delighted to have been awarded a lease and look forward to welcoming visitors to the Castle and talking to them about my work.”

Lancaster Castle has undergone a major refurbishment in recent years remodelling the lower courtyard and opening up more of the Castle’s historic buildings many of which were previously unseen and inaccessible. The latest phase of the project completed in November 2019 and since then local coffee roasters Atkinsons and Lancaster University have both taken leases on the spaces newly available.

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New Member Appointed To The Chapel Council

The Duchy of Lancaster has appointed Mrs Claudia Ogunyemi to the Council of The Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy. Mrs Ogunyemi is a native of New Jersey in the USA although she has been resident in the UK for over 17 years and currently lives in Beckenham with her husband and two teenage children. She first came to The Queen’s Chapel in 2017 when her teenage son joined the choir as a Wakeham Chorister.

Commenting on her appointment to the Chapel Council Claudia said: “I am really excited to have been appointed to the Council. The Chapel itself is quite exquisite and its location in the heart of one of the busiest areas of the city means that it provides a rare opportunity for peaceful and calm reflection. I would urge anyone working in the vicinity to visit the Chapel if only to remind themselves that mindfulness has an important role to play in ensuring good health and wellbeing.”

The Chapel Council provides governance and oversight to the day-to-day operations of The Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy, including its broad range of activities within the community, its finances and administration. Mrs Ogunyemi holds a BSc in Economics and Finance and a MSc in Information Management and Finance. She has 10 years’ experience of working in accounting roles for a variety of different companies. Interested in all aspects of retail businesses, Claudia currently works as the Operations and Logistics Manager of an online retailer and distributor in the health and beauty sector.

Commenting on the appointment Chairman of the Chapel Council and Duchy of Lancaster CFO Chris Adcock LVO said: “Following the retirement of Mr Guy Morrell earlier this year we are delighted that Claudia is to join the Chapel Council. Her professional skills and her personal experience of the Chapel and its role within the local community will be invaluable as we move forward. On behalf of all members of the Chapel Council I would like to extend the warmest of welcomes to her as she joins the team.”

The Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy is the last surviving building of a hospital built in the early part of the sixteenth century as part of a charitable foundation under the terms of the will of King Henry VII. It forms part of the Duchy of Lancaster’s historic Savoy Estate and is located between The Strand and the Thames Embankment. Often referred to as a ‘Royal Peculiar’ it remains a ‘free’ chapel and in 2016 the management of its ecclesiastical affairs was incorporated into the Ecclesiastical Household as part of the Chapels Royal.


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Best of Breed For New Oxford House

New Oxford House is becoming something of a creative hub in Birmingham with a second award-winning public relations company taking up residence here within four months.

spottydog communications celebrated its tenth anniversary with a move to the fifth floor of this landmark building in the heart of Birmingham’s commercial and financial district following a full refurbishment by the Duchy of Lancaster. The 20-strong agency joins fellow public relations, design and marketing consultancy Liquid who moved into the third floor of the building in September 2019.

This is the seventh office location occupied by spottydog communications in the city since this rapidly growing company was founded in 2010. It is now the largest city-centre consultancy in Birmingham.

Founder and CEO Rachel Roberts said: “I founded spottydog to create a place for talented people who want to deliver best of breed work.  Everything we do here is centred around our people, starting from designing our workspace to maximise team engagement and creating a great place to work, through to supporting career and professional development which has helped us be recognised as one of the top five SMEs in the country for graduate employment.

“Although we operate out of the Midlands, our clients are based around the UK and internationally, so we have an agile approach to working and the technology to support clients wherever we are. Being based in Birmingham city centre gives us great transport links and the new offices at New Oxford House provide us with more space to grow as we continue to develop the business in the years ahead.”

Commenting on the letting of the fifth floor to spottydog communications, Duchy Asset Manager Marcel Desmily said: “The refurbishment of this building has been carefully undertaken floor by floor to offer the highest standard and quality of office accommodation available anywhere in the city. We welcome spottydog and are delighted to see so many creative industries moving into and enjoying the spaces inside this iconic and well-loved local landmark.”

The refurbishment of New Oxford House is now in its final stages with office suites on the first and second floors of the building soon to be released. Situated on Waterloo Street and just a short walk from the Bullring, ICC and Birmingham’s excellent city centre bus and rail services, New Oxford House is managed by commercial property agents KWB Property Management Services.

For further information on available spaces at New Oxford House please contact KWB Property Management Services on 0121 233 2330.

For further information on Spottydog Communications, please visit the website

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