In­te­rior de­sign

When it was ad­ver­tised in COUN­TRY LIFE in Fe­bru­ary 1946, the orig­i­nal Ge­or­gian in­car­na­tion of Beau­worth Manor had been ob­scured by a suc­ces­sion of later ad­di­tions. Ara­bella Youens finds that, when restor­ing a house, less can def­i­nitely be more

Country Life Every Week - - Contents - Pho­tographs by Alun Cal­len­der

The orig­i­nal Ge­or­gian in­car­na­tion of Beau­worth Manor had been ob­scured by later ad­di­tions. Ara­bella Youens re­ports on its restora­tion

AF­TER the Sec­ond World War, Beau­worth Manor failed to live up to its name: a series of Vic­to­rian and Ed­war­dian ad­di­tions had cre­ated a war­ren of do­mes­tic of­fices at the back and a large room on its north­ern el­e­va­tion. Hav­ing been used as a nurs­ing and chil­dren’s home, the house also bore the scars of in­sti­tu­tional use.

Some of these awk­ward ad­di­tions are plain to see in the COUN­TRY LIFE ad­ver­tise­ment pub­lished on Fe­bru­ary 22, 1946, when the house was put up for auc­tion by the Berke­ley Square of­fice of John D. Wood. The orig­i­nal sash win­dows had been re­placed with plate glass, two Vic­to­rian bay win­dows on ei­ther side of the en­trance had been added and the front door had been stripped of the orig­i­nal ped­i­ment and dec­o­ra­tive de­tail­ing.

When Nigel An­der­son of ADAM Ar­chi­tec­ture was asked to come and look at the house in the late 1990s, he re­mem­bers it was in a ‘des­per­ately sad state’. Some of the more re­cent ad­di­tions had been re­moved, but ‘it was ob­vi­ous that, when el­e­ments had been de­mol­ished, what was left was very func­tional and util­i­tar­ian’.

Ex­ter­nally, it was pos­si­ble to es­tab­lish the core of the late-17th-, early-18th-cen­tury house, with its three, large chim­ney stacks prov­ing that there were orig­i­nally three rooms front and back. A Vic­to­rian owner then added a large wing that juts out about 80˚ off a right an­gle to the south­ern el­eva-

‘Re­con­fig­ur­ing coun­try houses in a co­her­ent way is our bread and but­ter

tion of the house. It was this foot­print that was pre­served.

The work un­der­taken to re­con­fig­ure the house was sub­stan­tial. Ex­ter­nally, it meant turn­ing un­gainly door open­ings into win­dows, ra­tio­nal­is­ing the rooflines, widen­ing open­ings, re­plac­ing plate-glass win­dows with sash win­dows to match those of the main el­e­va­tion and re­plac­ing the en­trance porch —which, by then, was ‘a com­plete mish­mash of styles’, ac­cord­ing to Nigel—with some­thing that was more Clas­si­cally lit­er­ate.

In­ter­nally, the orig­i­nal stair­case was re­stored, rooms were squared up, the lay­out was sim­pli­fied and the myr­iad dark cor­ri­dors and ser­vice rooms turned into larger, lighter spa­ces. Fi­nally, work­shops and sta­bles were con­verted into a play­room, a home of­fice and ad­di­tional ac­com­mo­da­tion.

‘Sur­pris­ingly, there are still many coun­try houses that find them­selves in a sim­i­larly

mud­dled state and re­con­fig­ur­ing them in a co­her­ent and bal­anced way is our bread and but­ter,’ says Nigel. ‘It’s ab­so­lutely true that less is so of­ten more, but, with listed houses, such as Beau­worth, you might come up against listed-build­ing in­spec­tors who re­quire some con­vinc­ing when it comes to mak­ing changes to Vic­to­rian or Ed­war­dian ad­di­tions. For­tu­nately, with sev­eral decades of ex­pe­ri­ence, and an ap­proach of give and take, there is nor­mally a way to re­solve these prob­lems.’

By the time the cur­rent own­ers, Emily and Roly Fisher, bought the house eight years ago, these sym­pa­thetic im­prove­ments meant that the changes they’ve needed to make sub­se­quently have been largely only cos­metic. ‘For­tu­nately, our pre­de­ces­sor had im­pec­ca­ble taste,’ says Emily.

Some of the fur­ni­ture, in­clud­ing the French re­fec­tory ta­ble in the kitchen, was sourced

‘The feel­ing is of a re­laxed fam­ily home, faith­ful to its Ge­or­gian roots’

through deal­ers; other items, such as the wheel­backed chairs, came from local auc­tions in Hamp­shire. Clues to Emily’s ca­reer in the diplo­matic ser­vice and a spell in Buenos Aires are dot­ted around the house: a sofa stool in the draw­ing room is cov­ered in cowhide and Ar­gen­tinian wool throws are used to soften the space.

Taxi­dermy, both in­her­ited and bought from spe­cial­ists such as Alexan­der von Westen­holz, vies for space with eye-catch­ing mod­ern art, such as the colour­ful oil in the back hall by Hepz­ibah Swin­ford that was bought from the Re­becca Hos­sack gallery.

Half a cen­tury af­ter it ap­peared in Coun­try Life, the feel­ing is of a re­laxed and much-loved fam­ily home, faith­ful to its Ge­or­gian roots, and freed from its in­sti­tu­tional past. Adam Ar­chi­tec­ture (01962 843843; www. adamar­chi­tec­ture.com)

Above: An ad­ver­tise­ment for Beau­worth Manor in COUN­TRY LIFE in 1946. Right: The house as it is to­day

Right: The rear hall in Fly Fish­ing from Lewis & Wood (www.lewisand­wood. com). Be­low: The draw­ing room in Gold Wis­te­ria by Nina Camp­bell at www.os­borne­an­dlit­tle.com

Top left: A colour­ful paint­ing by Hepz­ibah Swin­ford in the back hall. Top right: The land­ing. Above: The master bed­room

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