Folie de grandeur

The castel­lated gar­dener’s cot­tage at Lit­tle Naish barely of­fered room to swing a trowel. As Ara­bella Yoe­uns dis­cov­ers, the seam­less ad­di­tion of a glazed ex­ten­sion has trans­formed it into com­fort­able ac­com­mo­da­tion

Country Life Every Week - - Contents -

Lit­tle Naish in Som­er­set, a castel­lated gar­dener’s cot­tage with a seam­lessly added glazed ex­ten­sion, im­presses Ara­bella Youens

It was the re­mains of a long-lost glass house found in the walled gar­dens of Lit­tle Naish, near Clap­ton-in-gor­dano, Som­er­set, that even­tu­ally led to plan­ning per­mis­sion for the ad­di­tion of this strik­ingly mod­ern glass box to the side of an early-vic­to­rian tower.

the orig­i­nal Grade Ii-listed build­ing had been con­structed as a folly in the Gothicrevival style. Built in the early 19th cen­tury by James Adam Gor­don, a lo­cal politi­cian who owned plan­ta­tions in the West Indies, it lay in the grounds of Naish (pro­nounced ‘Nash’) House, a 17th-cen­tury manor that was de­stroyed by fire in 1902.

Although the main house was even­tu­ally re­built, Lit­tle Naish had lain empty for 25 years be­fore the Som­er­set-based ar­chi­tect and con­ser­va­tion spe­cial­ist James Barat­tini (now re­tired) was in­vited to con­sult in 2008. ‘the house was in a pretty par­lous state,’ he re­calls. ‘Lit­tle Naish was known as the “gar­dener’s cot­tage”, but it wasn’t hab­it­able. It was more of a bothy and a space to keep tools in than any­thing else.’

How­ever, the own­ers were keen to con­vert the folly into a hab­it­able house and, for that to work, plan­ning per­mis­sion and listed-build­ing con­sent were re­quired to ex­tend the orig­i­nal foot­print of the prop­erty.

It wasn’t the first time that an owner had tried to res­cue the build­ing, but all pre­vi­ous at­tempts had failed. ‘I felt very strongly that what it needed was a mod­ern ex­ten­sion, but, in or­der to start the process, I had to go back to ba­sics and do a his­tor­i­cal anal­y­sis on the orig­i­nal es­tate,’ ex­plains Mr Barat­tini. ‘When I dis­cov­ered the rem­nants of the Vic­to­rian glasshouse in the cor­ner of the walled gar­den, just next to the folly, it val­i­dated what I was try­ing to do with the build­ing.’

the lo­cal plan­ning depart­ment agreed to the in­stal­la­tion of a glazed build­ing on the pro­viso that it didn’t in­ter­fere with or in­ter­rupt dis­tant views. the pavil­ion ex­ten­sion was de­signed to min­imise the con­nec­tion to the build­ing, as there was no ev­i­dence of a for­mal link be­tween the green­house and the folly on the orig­i­nal lay­out. ‘We didn’t want it to swamp the tower, rather that it just floated on the edge,’ adds Mr Barat­tini.

One of the strong­est stip­u­la­tions by the own­ers—one a pas­sion­ate gar­dener—was that the space should blur the bound­aries of the in­side and out­side. this was achieved through the use of floor-to-ceil­ing slid­ing glass doors on two sides and hav­ing one floor­ing so­lu­tion to cre­ate a seam­less tran­si­tion be­tween the ter­race and the kitchen.

the pavil­ion’s po­si­tion, fac­ing south south-west, was ideal as it af­fords ex­ten­sive views over the six-acre walled gar­den. ‘How­ever, with that as­pect, you could also scorch in there, hence the need for the so­lar shad­ing in the form of the large roof over­hang. In the sum­mer, it of­fers pro­tec­tion from the over­head sun, but, in the win­ter, when the sun is lower in the sky, it lets the light in,’ ex­plains Mr Barat­tini. the clients com­mis­sioned de­signer tom How­ley (0161–848 1200; www.tomhow­ to cre­ate a tra­di­tional kitchen that would not only marry sym­pa­thet­i­cally with the his­tor­i­cal as­pects of the orig­i­nal build­ing, but would also be­come a fea­ture of the mod­ern ex­ten­sion. ‘they were very spe­cific about cre­at­ing a feel­ing of bring­ing the out­doors in and hav­ing a room that would be used for liv­ing, din­ing and cook­ing,’ says Mr How­ley.

‘One of the main chal­lenges was that achiev­ing this light, open-plan fin­ish meant there was lim­ited space avail­able for cab­i­netry. We had to be very clever with how we got ev­ery­thing the clients wanted into the kitchen.’

the Shaker-style Sum­merville range was cho­sen and painted in tom How­ley’s in-house colour of Mead­owsweet—a light, neu­tral shade that em­pha­sises the nat­u­ral light that floods the room. An is­land with a break­fast bar takes cen­tral stage and forms a sub­tle di­vi­sion be­tween the cook­ing and din­ing spa­ces. Un­usu­ally, the sink was built into the is­land specif­i­cally so that the splen­did gar­den views could of­fer some di­ver­sion from the chore of wash­ing-up.

‘The gar­den views of­fer some di­ver­sion from the chore of wash­ing-up ’

Floor-to-ceil­ing glass doors blur the boundary be­tween the in­side and the out­side

The large roof over­hang pro­vides shade in the sum­mer, but al­lows light in the win­ter

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