Terry Hickman-Smith: volunteer architectural advisor

In the next of our occasional series on people involved with Friends of St Peter we meet Terry Hickman-Smith.


2021.05a.T Hickman Smith.Photo Rose KemmyPhoto: R Kemmy


How did you become involved with Friends of St Peter?   I’m an architect and, although retired, I hope some of my experience will be useful. I want to be a ‘critical friend’ making sure that we follow correct processes, untangle the jargon, ask the right questions and end up with a building which will serve the community for the next 1000 years!

What has been your experience over the years?  I graduated from Liverpool University and after working for a year on the development of Redditch New Town, moved to Edinburgh joining a large practice. Over the next 10 years I focussed on Herriot Watt University designing sports facilities, residences and core buildings including lecture theatres. In 1977 I moved to Norfolk, set up my own practice and developed my abiding interest in historic buildings.  This gave me the opportunity to work on many projects including winning the contracts for Dragon Hall in Norwich and The Pennoyer Centre in Pulham St Mary.

 Did these two projects pose particular challenges? Yes, and so it is with St Peters. Working with old and historically significant buildings can complicate matters. We have to conserve the existing structure making sure that any repairs are compatible with the old fabric of the building whilst using both traditional and up-to-date materials and techniques. Often these new materials are visible and are known as ‘honest repairs’. 

As well as repairs we’re hoping to install toilets and a kitchen at St Peters – what are the issues about building new on old?  In working with Ruth Blackman, our talented and highly experienced architect, it is possible, amongst other potential ideas, that a south porch is added.  If so, the new addition may use modern materials but in a way that is harmonious with the church and pays respect to the original building in terms of design, proportion and scale. These were the guiding principles when I worked on the new elements of Dragon Hall and the Pennoyer Centre.

It sounds like a tough challenge. We’re lucky to have you helping us Terry – many thanks!


Terry was on the Building and Grants sub-committee until it was subsumed into the Project Steering Group which was formed in 2022 to manage the National Lottery Heritage Fund grant application process.  He took on the role of Project Manager in January 2023.

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