Building a Country House? Speak to Tim Moulding First

Building a country house is a dream for many, and those with the opportunity will naturally approach it with great enthusiasm.

Enthusiasm is a wonderful thing, but it can sometimes cloud judgement. When you are eager to get going, it is easy to rush ahead and glaze over more menial but important decisions and plans. In most cases, we learn from these mistakes through experience. However, when building a country house, mistakes can be expensive and in the worst case scenario, irreversible. You want to get it right first time.

Tim Moulding of Mouldings Builders R Moulding and Co
Tim Moulding, MD of the South’s leading traditional building companies, R. Moulding & Co

The First Step to Building a Country House?  Ask Someone with Experience.

Building consultant, Tim Moulding, now offers Country House Building Consultancy, a sensible first step for anyone with more enthusiasm than experience in the creation of their country home.

One of Tim’s continual frustrations is the inheritance of poor process.  As a builder, it is rare for him to be given the opportunity to influence the design or method of a country house project from its inception.  Too often, a builder is expected to deliver a project as it is handed to them, which is typically after a project has confirmed planning and therefore cannot be altered.  Like Tim, we think these scenarios are missed opportunities. A great deal of frustration, delay and rising costs can be avoided if specialists are consulted before the detail is locked down.

Stoockton House, Wiltshire
Stockton House in Wiltshire, renovated by R Moulding and Co (affectionately known as Mouldings)

 

Tim has more experience than most in the successful delivery of country house projects.  As well as being a consultant, he is also the eighth-generation owner and Managing Director of the leading traditional building company, R. Moulding & Co (affectionately known as Mouldings). For the past 30 years he has led his team in the delivery of over 70 residential building projects ranging from £500k to £15m in value. This experience has given Tim an intimate understanding of the building process specific to residential country houses.

Like Artichoke, Tim has realised that there is a gap in the market for a service that provides advice to anyone purchasing, or who owns a country home, at the onset of a major building project.  Tim is now offering his expertise, independently of his building firm, providing sound guidance towards the delivery of a successful building project before it’s too late.  At Artichoke, we see the affects of lack of consultancy first hand; often clients have misplaced the joinery design of their country home.  It is then a big task to pick up the pieces and the client ends up to paying twice for a design (as this previous artichoke blog explores further).

Question the Key Elements of the Building Process

In the context of country house restoration or new builds, Tim believes the process can be positively influenced by a number of factors. Examining a project from the outset can hugely improve the efficiency and cost of designing and building a country house, ultimately improving the owner’s enjoyment of the process.  

His consultancy is wide-ranging and explores everything from evaluating the experience of designers, to accessing the approach a construction team should take. When the answers aren’t binary, making decisions with the input of expertise can massively improve the efficiency and success of a building project. Tim’s considerable experience in this field may be the ideal remedy to any doubts you may have.

For more information on Country House Building Consultants, visit Tim’s website.

 

School of Furniture. Our First Graduates

The pilot course for Artichoke’s first free School of Furniture is now complete, and it’s been an incredibly rewarding experience for both the students and Artichoke.

The principle aim of our school is simple. Can we turn teenager’s ‘lights on’ to craft?

We set the school up to help inspire anyone who has a curiosity about craft (but has never experienced it first hand), or those who are perhaps not being fully engaged by subjects covered in school.

Our first group of students focusing hard on their work.

We are thrilled that not only all our students left having achieved the course goal (to make the wooden puzzle below), but they also left feeling inspired (and with all of their fingers!).

wooden puzzel
A completed wooden puzzle, made by one of our students.

One student in particular is now exploring a career in furniture making following his time at Artichoke.  This alone, was an outcome to be proud of and we look forward to helping to inspire him and others further in the years to come.

Artichoke cabinet makers and course tutors Wilma and Inigo with one of our course students. Peter.

Special thanks to Artichoke makers Wilma and Inigo, and to our production manager John, for their enthusiasm in setting up the course and for teaching our first students.  We’d also like to thank Axminster Tools for their generosity in providing our students with great hand tools to use during the course.  Last but not least, thanks have to go to Kai Holmes, design technology teacher at the Kings of Wessex Academy in Cheddar, for providing such a great group of students (and for helping steer us through the minefield that is children’s education).

Other blog posts on how the school was set up can be found below.  If you are a furniture maker and would like to set up a school yourself, we’d be delighted to invite you here to meet our course manager and course tutors and share what we’ve learned so far.

The Artichoke School of Furniture

Creating Britain’s Future Makers

 

 

 

Creating Britain’s Future Makers

We’re now in the third week of Artichoke’s School of Furniture.  The free course is an initiative launched by Artichoke with help from the Kings of Wessex Academy. Our aim is to introduce local teenagers to our craft and to teach them some basic fundamentals of working with hand tools.

Artichoke cabinet makers Wilma and Inigo oversee the first intake of the Artichoke School of Furniture

For us at Artichoke, the journey is proving to be fascinating and it has been a pleasure to watch the students learn. No doubt, we’re also learning from the process ourselves.  This first year of the course is acting as a pilot, and as it progresses we will naturally develop and improve the course content and it’s structure in response to what worked, and what didn’t.

Artichoke’s cabinet maker and course tutor Wilma helps a student.

We’d like to pass what we’re learning onto other makers, and perhaps inspire them to start their own free course too.  If you’re a cabinet maker and you want to find out more about how Artichoke’s course was modelled, do get in contact with andrew@artichoke.co.uk.  We’d be happy to share what we’ve learned with you.

Removing waste with a chisel is a fundamental skill all cabinet makers learn.

Designing into the Elizabethan Country House

Many Artichoke projects tend to focus on Georgian and Victorian period country houses, with the occasional sojourn to the later Edwardian or to earlier Jacobean and Elizabethan periods. It is fascinating to see how styles of architecture and interior detailing evolve through the English country house. The entire post Norman history is deeply illustrated through architecture.

One architectural style we find particularly enchanting is the Elizabethan country house.  Our first major country house project, over 20 years ago, was Parnham House in Dorset, one of Britain’s finest examples of Elizabethan architecture.  We were commissioned by the owners to design various rooms including both kitchens, a private dressing room and a minstrell’s gallery, all made in our workshops in Somerset.  With great sadness, the house was extensively damaged by fire in 2018 and it is now on the market.

Country house with gravel driveway
Parnham House, built during the reign of Elizabeth I and reconfigured by John Nash in the 19th century.

 

Elizabethan Country House Architecture

The Elizabethan period (1560-1600) was a period of design transition in architecture.  England’s understanding of the Italian Renaissance was just coming to the forefront, spurned on by Henry VIII’s numerous contacts with Italy before breaking with Rome.  When Elizabeth took up her reign, the country’s economy started to improve following years of recklessness from Henry.  A focus back into farming created more money for wider groups of people across England, and a domestic building boom began.  Many smaller houses were built and many larger manors were created, often through remodelling of earlier Tudor or Medieval homes.

An early introduction to Italian Renaissance architecture was fused with England’s already well established Gothic architecture, alongside a little Dutch influence. This opulent mixture was brilliantly interpreted by English craftsmen who elevated this new hybrid style to stunning levels of romantic architectural detailing.

breamore house
Breamore House in Hampshire

 

Houses were typically symmetrical with long galleries and formal gardens, often laid out in an ‘E’ pattern. The medieval hall was replaced in importance by the long gallery which became the focus for family life alongside other living areas off the gallery.  Key decorative characteristics included large mullioned windows with square heads and ornamental strap work (both internal and external), a detail originating in Italy via Islamic ornament.  Extensive use of rectangular timber oak panelling was also prevalent, often made even richer with the use of carved strap work ornament. Combined with ornate plaster work ceilings and carved overmantels, the affect was striking and powerful.

Creating a Design Backstory

This kaleidoscope of detail presents a challenge to joinery designers like Artichoke. It is difficult to compete with it. In the Elizabethan era, domesticity as we know it today, simply didn’t exist.

For Parnham House we created a strategy, giving the furniture we designed the backstory of an Edwardian interior facelift.  The kitchen design took on detail from the medieval and Tudor periods, albeit with a Edwardian twist.  This approach was heavily influenced by Edwin Lutyens who took a similar approach with many of his buildings which are often Edwardian takes of medieval architecture.

The backstory is a great way to contextualise and harmonise design in an imposing period building, particularly pre Georgian designs, where domestic rooms didn’t exist.  A backstory gives design a single direction, ensuring the end result is sympathetic, elegant and above all for an Elizabethan house, deferent.

 

To discuss your project with Artichoke, email us at newprojects@artichoke.co.uk

Artichoke in Country Life Top 100

Country Life magazine has listed Artichoke among the best craftspeople in Britain as part of its annual Country Life Top 100 Country House specialists review.  This is the second year Artichoke has been listed.

We are in illustrious company.  Also included in this year’s list are ADAM Architecture, Craig Hamilton Architects and Joanna Wood Interior Design, plus many other professionals we have worked alongside with our clients over the last 25 years.

Country Life magazine is a magazine perfectly aligned with Artichoke’s focus on creating heritage through sympathetic joinery design.  The title has deep connections to Sir Edwin Lutyens, an architect we admire greatly having worked on several of his houses.  It also is one of the few magazines with a focus solely on English country house architecture, interiors and rural country pursuits.

The full Country Life Top 100 list can be reviewed here.

country life top 100

 

To see some of the stunning work we have completed please click here.

To discuss your project with Artichoke, email us at newprojects@artichoke.co.uk

 

Profile: Tim Hellier, Managing Director

Tim Hellier, Artichoke Managing Director
Tim Hellier, Artichoke’s Managing Director

Tim Hellier joined Artichoke as Installations Manager 12 years ago, and was responsible for the successful completion of every Artichoke project until his promotion to Managing Director in 2018.  Prior to joining Artichoke, Tim worked as a respected furniture designer and cabinet maker.

Before discovering his love of furniture, Tim held a passion for photography and was trained by Peter Parks, one of the UK’s original natural history programme makers.  During his film making career, Tim worked with the marine natural history company, Image Quest, where he worked with David Attenborough on the Blue Planet series – filming the marine and coral footage.

Tim is also a trained pilot, gaining his licence following the RAF flying scholarship he was awarded when he was 17.

 

tim hellier in a canoe on a wide river
Tim midway through the Yukon River Challenge in 2017. He came second in his class

Tim is also a keen rower and was Captain of rowing at Radley College.  In 2017 he entered the gruelling Yukon River Challenge in Canada, a 3 day race over 440 miles between White Horse and Dawson.  Tim came second in his category, raising over £7,000 for The British Heart Foundation, Artichoke’s chosen charity.

 

For more information on the range of project management services we offer, from design, installation and finish, please click here

English Heritage & Historic England

Recently, there has been some confusion about the difference between English Heritage and Historic England, and in particular which organisation is now responsible for overseeing amendments to listed houses.

Until lately, English Heritage was the name of the body responsible for looking after England’s historic monuments and listed buildings.  Their responsibilities stretched from looking after national public monuments such as Stonehenge, to works on private listed houses. In 2015 it was decided these two quite distinct responsibilities should be separated.

The body now responsible for England’s listed houses and buildings (and also the Heritage at Risk register) is called Historic England.  They are a public body funded by the Government, and their role is principally to manage the National Heritage List for England, which is a database of England’s designated heritage assets (such as listed houses, churches, scheduled monuments and battlefields).   Therefore, anyone who owns a listed property, including many of our clients here at Artichoke, will be dealing with Historic England on matters concerning alterations to their listed property.

English Heritage, the body that used to deal with homeowner, is now a charity completely separate from the listed buildings process.  Their role is now to care for hundreds of historic ‘public’ sites across the country, such as Hadrian’s Wall, Dover Castle, Osborne House and Audley End House (below)

 

audley end house

 

How does each grade of listing affect your project?

Listed private houses are essentially those considered worthy of protection owing to their architectural or historic interest, with listings separated into Grade I, Grade II* and Grade II.  Regardless of the grade a house is listed at, Historic England has extra control over what changes can be made to its interior and exterior.  In general, each listing covers the whole building as well as any attached structures, additions or fixtures and in many cases land or buildings which come within the surrounding land or curtilage of the building (such as barns, outbuildings etc).

As can be the case with VAT and listed houses, there is little consistency between planning districts and planning officers.  Some Conservation Officers can be relaxed, while others are very particular about what would appear to be the smallest detail.

If you are using a local architect, it is often worth discussing your appointed planning office, as working with the right Conservation Officer for your project can really make a difference.

For more information on the range of project management services we offer, from design, installation and finish, please click here.  As ever, do call us if you’d like to discuss this particular matter further +44 (0)1934 745270

 

Working with Weldon’s Beautiful Floors

Artichoke strives to design beautiful rooms which sit comfortably and elegantly into their surroundings.  However we cannot do this alone.  We work alongside many other trades such as decorative plaster specialists, specialist finishers and lighting companies in order to deliver these spaces immaculately.

Weldon is one business with whom we have formed a close working relationship over many years of collaboration. Our companies share many similarities. Both were founded in 1992, and both are driven by a passion for innovation, design, and an uncompromising pursuit of excellence. Our most recent collaboration was in a former Georgian hunting lodge. For this project, Weldon was contracted to design and make the hardwood flooring for much of the ground floor.

 

Two georgian panelled doors on a wooden floor
A beautiful pairing. Artichoke doors on a Weldon floor.

Weldon is committed to delivering the highest standards of quality and service. A fact born out by their two Royal Warrants, a mark of recognition to Her Majesty The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and also HRH The Prince of Wales.

Weldon specialise in marquetry and parquetry floors, as well as the most heart melting antique floors. Their skill and reputation has led them to design and make floors for Buckingham Palace, The Victoria and Albert Museum, Blenheim Palace and Windsor Castle.

 

Bathroom with a slipper bath and dark wooden floor
A Weldon chevron patterned aged oak floor.

By sticking rigidly to their core principles of beauty, endurance and quality, Weldon has maintained incredibly high standards of craftsmanship throughout its 25 years of trading. These efforts are matched by their efforts to give back.  The provenance and tractability of raw materials is fundamental to Weldon’s approach, and they are dedicated to obtaining new timber from sustainable sources. The Company has planted over 3,000 trees in the last 10 years, providing more sustainable timber supplies in the UK.

Artichoke is slightly late to the party in this regard, although we are now proud to have set up the Artichoke School of Furniture, a series of five free introductory courses designed to introduce local school children in Cheddar to the basics of our craft. The first fully booked course starts in April 2019, and we couldn’t be prouder.

It has been immensely enjoyable sharing the first quarter of a century of our journey with Weldon. If you’re in the process of renovating a period building (or building a new one), you could do no wrong by speaking with them.  We couldn’t think of a better foundation on which to fit our furniture.

The Artichoke School of Furniture

At Artichoke we believe what we do enhances people’s lives. Our vision is that in 100 years, English design and craftsmanship will have continued to flourish, and our interiors will be celebrated by future generations.

We count ourselves very fortunate to have found our craft, although much of the team have discovered Artichoke via rather circuitous routes.  Among our ranks is an ex prison officer, an ex ad man and an ex paramedic.  Despite our eclectic backgrounds, we are united in the belief that the skills we are lucky enough to have learned should be passed on.

To help realise our vision, we are delighted to be launching the Artichoke School of Furniture. A series of free introductory courses for Somerset teenagers, who are interested in learning the basic skills of furniture making.  The aim of these courses will be to try and light the first spark of enthusiasm for cabinet making.

The initial five week pilot is being run for youngsters studying at the Kings of Wessex Academy in Cheddar, before being rolled out to the wider community.   The course will be run by Artichoke cabinet makers Wilma and Inigo, and accompanied by Kai Holmes who teaches Design Technology at the Kings of Wessex Academy . The students will be in excellent hands.

 

Artichoke cabinet makers Inigo and Wilma

Wilma completed the one year Williams and Cleal furniture course before joining Artichoke in 2018.  Prior to this she was a Prison Officer in Bristol.  Inigo began his furniture journey in France,  first as a restorer in Paris before completing his apprenticeship at La Bonne Graine.  He eventually began  his own furniture making business while simultaneously running evening classes for French teenagers.

 

A set of tools from Axminster
Kindly provided by Axminster Tools. A great kit for budding students to begin their making journeys with.

Learning the skills which which make our our craft so compelling is hugely fun, but we cannot run a course like this without a great set of tools.  We are particularly grateful to the amazing team at Axminster Tools who have generously provided our students with the use of the most amazing starter kit any budding maker could wish for.

We have great hopes for the Artichoke School of Furniture, which first started as a gem of an idea in 2017 and has largely been driven by our production manager, John Hampton, a deeply passionate and committed craftsman.  We have since been notified of other organisations also looking at grass routes education.  The Carpenter’s Company, of which our company founder Bruce Hodgson is a member, has a long tradition of delivering high quality education training in building crafts and building conservation.  The Furniture Maker’s Company, a livery company dedicated to supporting furniture making trade in numerous ways is also hugely proactive in this area.  We hope our combined efforts help us achieve our vision.

The first course starts in April 2019, and we can’t wait to report on our first Students’ progress!  We will report back.

To see some of the stunning work we have completed please click here.

Profile: John, Production Manager

John Hampton, Artichoke Production Manager

Our production Manager John, first gained a BA Hons in fine art painting at Winchester School of Art. After finishing his degree, he first worked as a technician before moving to London to become a display and lettering artist at Simpsons of Piccadilly. He then moved on to work as a prop maker and carpenter for the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.

Following his time in London, John moved to Somerset, and joined a team of other expert makers who were commissioned to make a pair of large oak installations for the modernist British sculptor Sir Anthony Caro. The installations were installed into the church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste in Bourbourg, Northern France, seen below.    

John joined Artichoke in 2011 as a maker and now leads our skilled team in the workshop.

 

The pulpit designed by Sir Anthony Caro
Pulpit in the church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste in Bourbourg. Made by John and colleagues for Sir Anthony Caro

To see some of the stunning work we have completed please click here.