Moving a Kitchen in a Listed Building

Useful advice from the listed building specialist.

Can I move a kitchen in a listed building?

Moving a kitchen in a listed building is a common requirement among many new country and listed house owners, and it’s becoming increasingly popular as family lifestyles continue to become less formal. Listed Building Consent may be required to create a new kitchen or alter an existing one if your house is a Grade 1 or Grade 2 listed building.

Where to start with moving a kitchen in a listed building in England

The first question you should ask is ‘What’s wrong with the kitchen where it is?’ We can almost always predict the answer. In the larger country house it was typical for kitchens to be located as far away from the family quarters as possible, thus eliminating noise, and cooking smells and reducing the risk of fires, most likely to start in the kitchen, spreading to the family part of the house.

In addition to kitchens in listed buildings being located as far away as possible, they were also often placed on the north side of the house, principally to stop direct sunlight from spoiling food in the pantry and also to take advantage of the prevailing south-westerly winds which would push chimney smoke caused by the kitchen fires away from the main house and gardens.

So, pre-1900, country house kitchens were sited at the extremities of a building on its north side, while today we want our kitchens at the centre of our homes, usually facing south.

image of an old kitchen is a listed building

When to Seek Advice

If you’re looking at kitchen ideas for Grade 1 and 2 listed properties and are contemplating moving a kitchen in a listed building, you’re going to have to seek Listed Building Consent from your local planners. Sometimes this will also require the involvement of Historic England (it used to be English Heritage and we explore the difference between the two organisations in this earlier article.)   This exercise will need an architect or heritage architect familiar with your local planners. However, it is worth also seeking advice from a specialist bespoke kitchen designer well-versed in moving kitchens in listed buildings to ensure the space being allocated by the architect is optimal, appropriate and will meet you and your family’s needs. Ideally this should happen well before the planning application is submitted. Not doing so could mean the proposed architecture limits how the kitchen ideas are laid out, with subsequent planning applications needed for changes to improve the space.

Find out about our Truly Bespoke Kitchen Design

 

Image of a Yellow House Keepers kitchen design in a listed building

 

What are the Issues of Moving a Kitchen in a Listed Building?

There are four key issues to be aware of.

Firstly, in a big family house, the original kitchen is likely to have been supported by a series of ancillary rooms, such as a scullery, larder or butler’s pantry. The issue many clients face when moving a kitchen in a listed building from its original location, say to a living room or dining room, is there will usually need to be provision within the new location for these supporting functions. We will often achieve this by breaking the new space up using joinery or architecture, but this can be challenging in rooms such as dining rooms which may have very high ceilings, festooned with elaborate fibrous plaster mouldings.

The second issue to consider when moving a kitchen in a listed building is a lack of usable wall space. In a back of house kitchen, the original architect will have designed the windows above head height as per the image above, providing ample wall space against which to place ovens and dressers. In a dining room or living room however, there are often impressive windows, French doors or grand fireplaces, limiting the available wall space against which kitchen furniture can be placed. Bear this in mind when considering which room to move your kitchen into.

The third issue is focussed on aesthetics. When exploring Grade 2 listed kitchen ideas and inspiration you’ll quickly discover that, kitchen furniture moved into a dining room or living room without a sensitive design approach can often look incongruous. To overcome this conundrum when moving a kitchen in a listed building we will often develop a fictitious story which explains how the space might have evolved. This will help tie a design brief together. For example, we were recently asked to design a kitchen into one of the principle living spaces in a Chateau in Burgundy, France. Rather than just take the room we were given to design a kitchen into it, we developed the following narrative with the client.

Before being a kitchen, the room was used by the previous owner as a collector’s library in which she stored curiosities from her travels around the world. These display cupboards were to be repurposed for use as kitchen storage.

Creating such a narrative will provide a focus for Artichoke’s creative team. Instead of designing a kitchen plonked into what was an old Salon, the room becomes a grand albeit slightly eccentric library modified for its new use as a kitchen. This is a much more exciting and beguiling option!

image of a bespoke kitchen in listed house
To successfully move this kitchen into what was once a reception room required clever manipulation of interior architecture by the Artichoke team.

 

Finally it is worth considering your access into the kitchen from your daily entry point into the house (usually nearest the car) and whether moving the kitchen to the new space will make this access more cumbersome. Dragging the family shopping through the centre of the house is as fun as it sounds!

Next Steps

Typically clients discover Artichoke in their search for an elegant, beautifully made kitchen and, having found us, decide to use us in other areas of their home. Each house is different and finding the right kitchen style for your listed building is important, so if you are considering moving a kitchen in a listed building we’d be happy to talk through the options with you.

Email newprojects@artichoke.co.uk with any questions or call us on 01934 745270.

 

How To Design The Perfect Boot Room (2023)

Expanding on our wealth of experience in period home design to help you make the most of your space, we offer our expert and practical tips on how to design the perfect boot room, mud room or flower room.

As well as sharing our conceptual design insights, we advise on where to start with your boot room designand take you through the aspects of the design that should always be considered like storage and materials plus individual needs of family members… pets included!

 

Artichoke and boot room design

Artichoke’s design team is fairly obsessed with boot rooms. In fact, the domestic back end of a country house holds a rather geeky fascination for us. While boot rooms or mud rooms are hardly glamorous, they do present a variety of interesting design challenges, which, if done well, we believe, can add greatly to the “liveability” of a country house.

Image of bespoke boot room with coat hangers

What is a boot room?

The primary function of a boot room is to act as a valve between the outside elements and the house interior. It should be a practical, functional room that everyone in the family uses.

Where should you start with a boot room design?

It all starts with a conceptual design. In order to produce the perfect boot room, it’s important to fully understand the family that will use it and to consider every aspect of their day-to-day life. For example, how many children or animals are there? Are shooting, fishing or riding regular family activities? What kind of sports kit needs to be stored? What sort of hats, and how many coats do they own? Do guns need to be stored? If so, what are the security requirements?

When we go through conceptual designs for clients, early into the design process we will produce a sketch that gives clients a clear picture of initial ideas and intent for the design.

We are the boot room design experts so you can contact us for an initial consultation.

Image of black and white boot room drawing by artichoke

 

What to consider when designing a boot room?

 

1. Storage

Storage in a boot room depends on the family that will use it and all the aspect of their day-to-day life, but essentially, when designing a boot room you should consider three levels of storage:

• shoe storage
• storage for coats and jackets with hanging racks
• storage usually with shelves, drawers or cupboards for hats, gloves and any other additional equipment

For extra boot room storage, you can consider a bench with lift-up seat, baskets or an all-in-one hall stand – a multi-functional freestanding piece of furniture with storage and hanging space.

 

Image of two bespoke boot rooms with coat hangers

 

This Edwardian boot room in a Queen Anne country house is the perfect example of a room with limited space that we expertly crafted to serve many purposes for a busy family.

 

Image of Edwardian Boot Room storage

 

Our considered design accounted for the free movement of people and dogs, and the fact that as children grow older, their needs will change. We managed to create a mud room that was beautiful and ‘liveable’ with plenty of practical ideas.

We revived an Edwardian-style “up and over” cupboard door so that when opened, the doors didn’t intrude awkwardly into the space. We also incorporated a peninsula and small drawers with brass handles to provide plenty of extra storage.

 

Image og edwardian boot room peninsula and up and over cupboards for storage

2. Mud

This is the reason why we also call boot rooms mudrooms. Different names, the same function – both are a link to the outside – a valve between the outside world of muck, mud and rain and the interior of a house with a primary function of stopping the mess from spreading throughout the home.

As practical spaces, that are likely to see heavy use, they require practical solutions and thoughtful consideration of materials.

Here, a hard-wearing material for the floor is essential.

In our designs, we often opt for natural materials such as stone or tiles. A great example of this is the Belgian Fossil which we chose for the flooring in this Regency country house project, because it is robust but also because its attractive flecks of fossils and white shells help to camouflage mud and dirt.

Image of bespoke boot room with coat hangers
We also added extra practical features such as the grate and drain, set in the floor for easy cleaning of weather-related mess and the zinc plinths with copper nails which provide a buffer between the floor and panelling and protect the paint from smearing and scuffing when frequently mopping the muddy floor.

Image of stone floor with drainage and zinc plinth

 

An externally mounted tap may be another key feature to think about. Having this outside allows muddy boots or animals to be cleaned before they enter the house.

 

3. English weather

In many country houses, boot rooms function as the main back entrance to the house. If this is the case it could be wise to consider an additional smaller entrance to act as a second valve to trap the cold and wind as family members or guests, enter and leave.

Image of two second entrance in boot room
You must also always think of the flow through a boot room space where you can pass quickly with little furniture obstructing the route between the doors.

 

4. Wet clothing

Typical of the traditional English weather rain often causes outwear to get wet. A boot room is then the place where they can dry. We often incorporate discreet and practical solutions to deal with this problem.

One such example is the design in this Regency country house. A stone bench with holes sits above the radiator drying the coats that hang above it.

Image of stone bench with holes for drying clothes in boot room

5. Function of the sink

If a sink is required, you need to make sure it’s made appropriately for what it will be used for. For example, if it will be used for washing muddy boots or pets it must be large and made of a robust material. Alternatively, if it’s only used for lighter activities such as flower arranging, you must consider the height of the tap to ensure that all tall vases can be filled easily.

 

Image of Artichoke boot room with stone sink and storage
A solid stone sink in this Artichoke boot room provides a hard wearing and attractive alternative to stainless steel.

 

Consider whether your boot room will need a sink for washing hands, bathing smaller pets, cleaning boots or rinsing off vegetables picked from the garden. It should be a durable sink that can handle knocks and scratches from muddy paws, gardening tools and hard-bristled brushes.

Image of boot rooms with sink
A stunning Belfast sink is sometimes the perfect choice for arranging blooms and foliage picked from the countryside.

6. Pets

If you are a family with canine companions, your perfect boot room design won’t be complete without the consideration of your pets, and specifically dogs and their needs.

Artichoke bespoke Boot room with dog
The boot room may be a place where your dog rests so you should allow for some room for it’s bed or consider bulding your dog’s bed into the joinery which will help to keep things tidy for you and snug for your dog.

It’s important to ensure that the spot is suitable for your dog’s individual needs as recommended by the clinical pet behaviorist, Helen Greenley. For example, some pets will need cooler or warmer spots, depending on their breed.

The boot room may also be the perfect place for your pet’s eating station where you can contain spillages and store pet food and toys.

And after a muddy country walk? The quickest and easiest solution to rinsing your dog of the outside muck is to install an outdoor tap or to incorporate a shower area into your joinery indoors.

In summary

You should think of boot rooms as ‘decompression rooms’. To get them right we suggest using a variety of robust natural materials and furniture details and take time to consider every small detail so that the boot room works for each family’s unique needs, dogs included.

Asking the right questions at the outset as to how you want your boot room to function is the key to designing a space that will suit your needs exactly.

If you have a boot room project you’d like professionally designed, we’d love to discuss it. Email newprojects@artichoke.co.uk or call +44 (0)1934 745270.

Resurgence of the Cook’s Table

The cook’s table was a classic element of a Victorian Kitchen and in recent years we have seen a revival of its popularity in the modern home.

One characteristic of country house style is simple but solid furniture – stand alone pieces like that of a cook’s table, that are incorporated for storage and display or food preparation.

Traditionally, country house kitchens were furnished by local craftsmen who designed cook’s tables and made purposeful pieces of furniture which were handed down from generation to generation. As a result, it is common to find a mix of period styles among the furniture of a country kitchen. Similar in their practicality and durability, but with subtle variations according to the period and the budget, such pieces complement each other well.

In the ‘back of house’ quarters of grand country houses, the cook’s table was a central piece of the working kitchen. It was used for food preparation but also sometimes as a dining table for the servants.

 

view of the Victorian Kitchen, showing cooks table and stove
The beautiful Victorian kitchen at Wightwick Manor, Wolverhampton

 

Historically, the cook’s table was made out of pine, oak, elm and a variety of fruit woods, oiled or polished to bring out the natural graining and features of the wood. Others were colour washed, or painted using primitive paints made from locally available materials such as buttermilk and eggs mixed with earth coloured pigments. Interestingly, in the Victorian era, a number of deaths occurred as the result of a popular shade of green paint and wallpaper. Scheele’s Green, which was made using copper arsenite, fatally poisoned a number of people until the connection was later realised. Nowadays, this green pigment is produced without dangerous toxicity.

 

A kitchen and cook’s table, designed and made by Artichoke. Read more about the inspiration behind this design here.

 

With sustainability in mind, at Artichoke we always focus on the practicality and purpose of design. It is true that while the island has become a popular feature of contemporary kitchen design, it can be obtrusive and can dominate a space. A cook’s table offers an elegant and less obtrusive alternative – just as practical but bringing a romantic aesthetic with its history and rusticity. It’s a testament to the beauty of simplicity, achieving elegance alongside functionally.

Artichoke cook's table painted red

 

Artichoke’s wealth of experience and knowledge of period architectural detail and cabinet making affords us the specialist skills to design and integrate a traditional piece like a cook’s table into a country home. We design and curate a variety of styles in a single suite of domestic rooms to give the impression that the rooms have evolved through various owners over time. The style of the joinery, therefore, suggests the story of the house. Such specific requirements are a perfect demonstration of the truly bespoke nature of our work.

 

If you’d like to learn more about the transformative potential of well-considered and authentic architectural joinery, please do get in touch and tell us about your project. Email the Artichoke team at newprojects@artichoke.co.uk or call on +44 (0)1934 745270.

Gas vs Induction Hobs: Which Is Right For Your Kitchen?

A question we are often asked when designing bespoke kitchens is whether to go for a gas or an induction hob. The truth is that both options have their advantages and disadvantages, meaning that it always comes down to what suits the individual or family. 

Let’s investigate gas vs induction hobs and find out which one is right for you. 

Gas vs induction hobs: The complete comparison

Gas hobs

Pros

One of the most common questions asked when planning a new kitchen nowadays is ‘are induction hobs better than gas?’ Many would reply that nothing quite beats the feeling of cooking with gas. Gas is satisfyingly easy to understand – you can see the flame, feel the flame intensity, and adjust it as needed. You can shake the pan about with a flourish to adjust the heat, and, for many people, cooking this way feels very instinctive and natural. 

Gas hobs are ideal for everyone from amateur cooks to professional chefs, and they also work well for all types of cooking, from simmering to flash grilling. In terms of aesthetics, although gas hobs are more often seen in traditional and rustic-style kitchens, this doesn’t mean that they don’t look good in a more modern space – with so many different types of gas hob available, you are sure to find one that works with your decoration. 

Photo credit Sub-Zero Wolf

Cons

There are some negatives for gas in the gas vs induction hobs argument. To start with, they require gas mains, which modern buildings may not have. They are also significantly harder to clean, with induction hobs being a smooth flat surface and gas hobs having the pan support to contend with. Perhaps most importantly, they are not as energy efficient as induction hobs, meaning they are not as good for the environment.

 

Induction hobs

Pros

So what exactly are induction hobs, and why are induction hobs better than gas? Induction hobs are cooktops that use electromagnetism to heat when in contact with certain materials. They are the more environmentally friendly choice, having the option to be powered by renewable energy. They are also more efficient as they distribute heat more evenly, and this allows for better precision cooking. 

Induction  hobs can also be very aesthetically pleasing, with an easy-to-clean glass surface that does not interfere with the lines of the kitchen counter, meaning they can also be used as an additional work surface when not in use. They have a modern minimalist look that can either act as a focal point in a contemporary kitchen or blend into the background of a more traditional space.

Since induction hobs will only heat when a pan is in contact with the surface, they are also safer, especially for people who have younger children and pets around. Many even have a child lock option. 

Photo credit Sub-Zero Wolf

Cons

On the other side of the gas vs induction hobs debate, the induction cooking experience is slightly different, and this can be a difficult adjustment for those who have been cooking with gas all their life. 

Also, since they are only compatible with certain pans, many people will find that some of their pans do not work on an induction hob. The best cookware for induction hobs is made from stainless steel and cast iron. Other types of cookware such as aluminum, copper, glass, anodised or ceramic will not work unless they have an induction plate built into the base. 

 

Gas vs induction hobs: Which is the winner?

 When it comes to efficiency, cleaning and safety, induction is a better choice. However, if you prefer to cook in the traditional way, and want to be able to easily produce food to the best possible standard, then you may prefer a gas cooktop. 

If you are lucky enough to have a supporting scullery kitchen alongside your main cooking area, then the ideal thing would be to have one of each, allowing you and your family to swap between as preferred. However, if you can only pick one, think long and hard before you decide, perhaps testing out a few induction hobs to see if they work for you. 

 

Chilham Castle for Sale

A Jacobean house with medieval origins

Every now and then, a period house stops us in our tracks. Chilham Castle in Kent is one such house.

The 17th Century Jacobean house as it stands today actually hides a much deeper history.  The original building was constructed in 709 by the King of Kent.  The house’s links to medieval England can still be seen by way of a keep which still exists today.

It was lived in by various noblemen and families until it was bought by King Henry VIII in 1539.  Shortly afterwards Henry VIII allowed Sir Thomas Cheney to buy it from him.  While undocumented, this was possibly to return a long lost favour owed to Cheney after he allowed King Henry to court Anne Boleyn at his house on the Isle of Sheppey ten years previously.

chilham castle on a clear blue day
Chilham Castle for Sale through Knight Frank

Improvements by Capability Brown

The house as it stands now is mainly the result of work undertaken by Thomas Heron, a lawyer who undertook a significant renovation of Chilham Castle in the late 1700s.  This included bringing Capability Brown on board to landscape the gardens and improve the park.  Heron paid a modest £412 and 10 shillings for the work (over £500,000 in today’s money).  Brown did not create a new landscape for this sum, but instead made several small improvements which collectively made a big difference to the building’s setting.

chilham castle with keep
The castle’s Medieval Keep can be seen on the left .

A rare opportunity

Fast forward to today, and the house has been in the hands of the Wheeler family since 2002.  They have restored much of the building’s heritage, putting it back on its feet ready for the next owner to leave their mark.

Further details on the sale of Chilham Castle can be seen on the Knight Frank website.

 


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

 

 

 

Modern Boot Room Ideas for Modern Country Life

As country house experts, we have plenty of experience in designing beautiful boot rooms to meet modern families’ needs, and events over the last couple of years mean that the boot room has never been more important in family life. We look at modern boot room ideas and how to create a space that works for your household, without compromising on aesthetics.

Boot rooms have always been a convenient midway point between the wild outside and the calm interior of a home. They are the place where you can happily leave wet coats, muddy boots, dirty dogs, umbrellas and prams without worrying that they are going to ruin any beautiful furnishings. Depending on your boot room design, they can also provide extra utility space, whether you want a separate area for laundry or a dedicated place for flower arranging.

Country house design bootroom

However, these rooms came into their own even more in the COVID-19 era. The global pandemic saw homes driven to two extremes: they either became  much quieter than usual, with family members locked down in different parts of the world, or the opposite, with grandparents or parents seeing their offspring return to the family estate to enjoy country living during the Coronavirus restrictions.

english country boot room design

Modern boot room ideas for modern requirements

As life has returned to normal, the modern boot room remains an important factor in how a busy household functions.  Below we look at boot room design ideas and how to create a space that works for your household.

country house boot room design

Where to start

When looking to create the perfect country house boot room, you first need to look at your family’s day-to-day life and consider exactly how the space will be used. For example, how many children or animals do you have? How many coats, hats and pairs of shoes will need to be stored here? What are your family’s favourite activities – perhaps shooting, fishing or riding are regular hobbies? If so, what kind of kit needs to be stored? If guns will be kept there, what are the security requirements? 

Once all this has been thought about, you can start to sketch out a vision of what your ideal boot room design would look like, setting out a clear idea of what needs to be done.

What to consider for optimal boot room design

As much as you may want your boot room to be aesthetically pleasing, its primary function is as a midpoint between the outside and the in. This means that mud – and how it can be easily dealt with – should be a priority. You will definitely want a hard-wearing floor, such as stone, tile, or vinyl. You should also think about drainage – for example, you may find it convenient to install a drain in the centre of the floor, meaning that mud and dirt can be easily swept away. To avoid as much as possible mud being trampled in, you could consider installing an outdoor tap, which provides an easy way for people to wash off muddy boots or animals before entering.

Another modern boot room idea for English country homes is to anticipate and work with the English weather. In many homes, boot rooms act as the main back entrance to the house, but this can mean that they let in a significant draft as people come through. So, you may wish to consider adding an extra door between the boot room and the outside world, preventing the cold and wind from coming in.

Flower and boot room cabinets

If you wish to incorporate a sink into your boot room, think carefully about what you will use it for first. For example, if you will be washing off muddy boots inside, you will want to choose a large and robust sink, whereas if you are mainly planning on using this sink for flower arranging, the sink won’t need to be as robust however the height of the tap will need to be planned to ensure that tall vases can fit underneath. 

During the pandemic, the boot room was often used as a ‘decontamination zone’ to avoid bringing in germs from the outside world.  It might have a washing machine and storage for detergent, allowing you to put potentially infected clothes straight in the wash as you arrive home. You can then decide whether you want your boot room to become your main laundry space, in which case you will also need to consider hanging areas for washed clothes and baskets for dirty items. 

How much work is it to design and create a fully-kitted-out boot room?

As specialists in fitting English period homes to suit modern family life, we are able to handle projects with ease, whether its restoring a very old building to better suit the needs of our client or whether its a new back of house addition to an old house ensuring they understand exactly what you want from your boot room before they commence with the build.

All this may seem like a lot of effort for a simple boot room. However, when you consider what an important role this space actually plays in family life, it is well worth investing time in boot room design ideas in order to create a space that will suit all your household for years to come.

If you’d like to discuss our approach to design and our craft, please email newprojects@artichoke.co.uk or call +44 (0)1934 745270.

Shapwick Manor in Somerset For Sale

Shapwick Manor in Somerset for Sale

Shapwick Manor for sale in Somerset could only be described as a bit of a project, but for those with big ambitions and even bigger pockets, it’s a rare opportunity to secure one of Somerset’s most beautiful country houses.

Shapwick Manor House in Somerset

 

Shapwick Manor Brief History

In more recent years (since 1984), the medieval building had been used as a private school specialising in the education of children with dyslexia and was much admired across the UK for it’s great work in this field.

Shapwick Manor originally belonged to the Abbey at Glastonbury until the monasteries were dismantled by Henry VIII and it was passed onto Thomas Walton and then te Rolle Familly, with the Manor as it is recognised today being built in 1475.

Shapwick Manor is located in Shapwick, a secluded and pretty village sited in the Polden Hills near Glasonbury and would be a good bet for anyone seeking to extract themselves from London to find a country seat and not join the nearby Bruton media circus.

What’s for Sale

For the current asking price of £6,500,000 (January 2021) a buyer will get alot of property.  The large Grade II* listed Shapwick manor house, stables, a small farm, Greystones (an old boarding house) and many others such as the Sixth Form Bock below which has enormous potential for a creative buyer.

Shapwick House sale offers buildings like this school house

 

Naturally there is work to be done; the main Shapwick Manor house will need reconfiguring to take it back to a residential house after being used as a school for so many years.  Despite its Grade II* listed status however, much of the building’s interior architectural detail has been eroded and lost over time, but it could become a magnificent 12,000 square ft statement house for the village if undertaken sensitively.

Shapwick Manor in Somerset for Sale through Strutt and Parker. Sales particulars from Strutt and Parker are here

 


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

English Country House Names Explained

English country houses come in all shapes and sizes, and many have evolved over centuries, transforming from one form to another as time passes by. Some started from humble beginnings, while others were grand from the off.

In this article we’re going to explore the suffix of the country house and whether these house names can give us a clue to a building’s past. Grange, Hall, Park, Villa, Manor, Grove and House are all such examples of house naming. But what do they mean?

 

Grange

A Grange is usually a large farmhouse with farm buildings and grain stores attached. It is likely that the house name prefix ‘Grange’, originally stemmed from a time when England’s land was divided up as part of the monastic system, with monastic granges being outlying landholdings owned by monasteries and Cisterian monks. So essentially, a house named Grange was an agricultural outpost, and where there was a Grange there was often a much larger ‘mothership’ house, often an Abbey or Priory, nearby. The theme of being a ‘religious outpost’ for such house naming stuck right up to the Victorian period when a vicar or landowner would often live in the Grange. As land was sold off over time by Abbeys and the church, Grange’s became independent houses.

Victorian Grange
This This Victorian grange was built in the late 1800s, possibly for a high ranking member of the local church community as the church expanded its reach.

 

Hall

The origin of the Hall house is a fascinating and ancient one stemming from house naming conventions in Anglo Saxon times. The original hall buildings were meeting places and they usually consisted of four walls, a roof and a fire around which to gather. Because of the fire they usually had very tall ceilings which were often later filled in with floors which were added to as the hall’s original use as a public meeting space diminished. The retro-fitting of additional floors, with rooms and extensions, allowed users’ private spaces and meeting rooms. As a consequence the layout of a Hall can often be complex as they were usually developed in a piecemeal, ad hoc fashion.

a medieval hall house
The house and part of the garden at Rufford Old Hall, Lancashire. The Great Hall to the right was built in the sixteenth century, and the brick wing to the right in the seventeenth century.

 

Manor

Unlike the house naming origins of the English Hall, which often started from relatively humble beginnings as a meeting place, the Manor was none-such place. It was originally the main house of the lord of the manor with the house forming the administrative centre in the feudal landlord system. Somewhat confusingly, a manor might have originally started as a hall, elevating its house name to a manor to disguise its humble past. A manor was usually the centrepiece of that area’s administrative heart. The older manor houses often had a great hall where meals with tenants or great banquets were held.

Great Durnford Manor, in which Artichoke designed and made
several rooms, was purpose built as a manor in the mid 1700s.

 

Park

The origin of the Park as a house name was often the park itself, sometimes an exceptional plot of land which suited the addition of what was usually a home of considerable size and stature. The original Park was typically owned by royalty or a feudal landlord, and it would have been where they went to hunt deer to feed the household. Park houses often still retain a stock of deer as a nod to the past, with many herds believed to be made up from the original lineage.

Williamstrip Park
Willianstrip Park in which Artichoke made the kitchen.

 

Villa

It’s not surprising to learn that the house name suffix Villa stems from Europe and the Roman occupation of England, and it principally means large luxurious house with land. These days it’s not commonly used as a suffix to a house name, but more often used as a way of describing a neo Italianate classical house, of which there are many in towns like Cheltenham and Bristol (below). They often had palatial proportions, arched windows and sometimes towers with gently sloping roofs.

Italianate style villa house
An Italianate villa in Clifton, Bristol

 

Dower House

Granted, this is not a suffix, but we think it warrants a place in our list.

A Dower House was one which was almost always built for a widow, usually on the estate of the man to whom she was once married. The house name is linked to the term ‘Dowager’, which was the name given to a widow who had a title or owned property. Dower Houses were usually quite large.

Dower House
This Dower House started off more modestly with a variety of additions made over time.

It’s our mission to contribute to the evolution of buildings like these, creating joinery led interiors which will become part of the architectural story of the house. Artichoke’s work, under the patronage of our client, will be enjoyed and admired by future generations. If your country house name includes a Grange, a Manor, a Park, Hall or Dower House, it may be the kind of house that we could provide inspiration and direction for.

Curious to know more? Email newprojects@artichoke.co.uk or call us on 01934 745270.

The Country House Revived?

Not so long ago we were sent a wonderful piece of country house research undertaken by the Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses and Estates at Manynooth University.

The study explores the survival and revival of the country house and historic houses in Ireland and the UK over the past 50 years, and it looks into some of the houses that have survived and prospered under their owners for future generations to enjoy.

It is so important that these portals into our past are cared for and put on the pedestal they deserve.  While the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, it is the parts that must be revered.  The skills on display in these buildings by the artisan plasterers, joiners, gilders and stone masons are just wonderful, and we are so privileged as a company to be given the opportunity to display our craftsmanship alongside theirs for future generations to enjoy.

Extraordinary plasterwork restored by master plasterer Kevin Holbrook and Quinlan Francis Terry.

 

As ever, the best craftsmanship doesn’t come cheap, but its good value is unsurpassed.  Every great country house built in the 18th and 19th century was done so by someone who had accrued enough wealth to invest in the best possible quality joiners, carvers, stone masons, plasterers and architects.  They didn’t invest in buildings that would last just their own lives; they invested in buildings that would last centuries and it is our duty to look after them for the next generations to enjoy.

To do so, and to keep on creating heritage for our future generations requires dedication and a vision.  Our vision at Artichoke is that in 100 years, English design and craftsmanship continues to flourish, and we are doing several things to try and achieve it.  While it is a great delight to see so many country houses brought back from the brink, it will only be possible if we keep the craftsmanship skills needed thriving.  We explore in another piece some of the crafts education available in this field.

Presentations on both pieces of research are below:

Irish Country Houses

 

 

 

UK Country Houses

25 Royal Crescent Bath for Sale

As rows of terraced houses go, The Royal Crescent in Bath sits at the pinnacle.  Sited as one of Britain’s greatest ever examples of Georgian architecture, it was designed by John Wood the younger and took seven years to build, starting in 1764.  Now one of its houses is for sale.

 

To purchase one of the 30 available houses, the original buyers were each asked to buy a length of the facade.  They then had to employ their own architect to build the house behind, so what can appear to be ordered uniformity and symmetry at the front is actually a bit of a mess behind (or ‘business at the front: party at the back’ as it was once described to me by one of the owners).  This avant-garde approach to architecture occurs repeatedly across Bath.

During the 1900s many of the houses which had once been the residences of single families with maids and other staff were divided into offices and flats.  Of the 30 original houses only 10 remain as single dwellings, so when one comes on the market it is a rare occurrence.  Number 25 The Royal Crescent is now for sale through Savills with a guide price of £6.5 million.

The Grade I listed architecture of the facade of The Royal Cresent has 114 Ionic columns which rest on a rusticated ground floor.  It was the first crescent of houses to be built in the UK and with views over parkland was also a fine example of ‘rus in urbe’ architecture, meaning ‘the country in the city’.

However, with all formality comes the desire for rebellion.  In 1971, the resident of No 22 The Royal Crescent, Miss Amabel Wellesley-Colley, took it upon herself to paint the front door of her house canary yellow (the others are all white).  In her defence, she said she was upholding tradition because canary yellow was her great grandfather, The Duke of Wellington’s favourite colour.  As you can imagine, there was uproar, and the chattering classes of Bath went apoplectic with confected outrage.  Other owners of houses on The Royal Crescent fell back on a 1968 law for listed buildings which stated that property owners could not alter the appearance of the Royal Crescent without permission.  However, they underestimated Miss Amabel, who after spending thousands of pounds and battling it out in a 6 hour long public enquiry was found in favour by the Department for the Environment.

The door remains yellow to this day.

yellow door the royal cresent bath
A very English act of architectural rebellion.

 

25 The Royal Crescent Bath is for Sale through Savills.

 


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

 

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