Globetrotters Dennis and Raffa Doggard have created an exotic home filled with unusual finds
It’s lovely to be able to sit in a room, look around and say: “Those are the opium weights that we bought in Burma; that bedcover belonged to a Berber tribeswoman in Morocco and we found the cow skin cushions on safari in Kenya”,’ says Dennis Doggard of the home that he and his wife, Ra !a, share in south Dorset. Walls are painted or papered in jewel-rich colours and "lled with inherited furniture and paintings alongside exotic rugs and other treasures. They’ve bought at auctions in this country, but what sets their home apart is the many unusual pieces brought back from their travels. The couple are inveterate globetro#ers, and in recent years have stayed with tribesmen in Nagaland, ridden motorbikes across Bhutan and driven across Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
When Dennis and Ra !a stumbled upon their house, they’d been searching for more than four years. It was owned by an architect who loved old buildings, but had an idiosyncratic taste in antiques. On that "rst visit, Ra !a remembers being startled to see a strange object on the table. ‘ I asked what it was. A man trap, I was told!’ Such oddities apart, the house had
much to beguile them. High- ceilinged and light! lled, thanks to vast sash windows, its original features remained largely intact. There were, and still are, shu"ers on most windows, a working ! replace in most rooms, and magni !cent double mahogany doors leading to the drawing room that are thought to have come from a building in Bath’s historic street, The Circus. ‘ We both walked in and felt this is what we’d been looking for,’ says Ra #a.
They found out more about the romantic history of the house only a $er they moved in. ‘It was built in the 1820s for a vicar who had fallen in love with a young girl from Bath. To win her hand, he commissioned what was essentially a Bath terraced townhouse in a quiet Dorset village. Sadly, the story didn’t end well. The young lady in question turned him down, so he was le$ ra"ling around with only !ve dogs for company,’ explains Dennis.
There’s li"le sense of this lonely owner’s existence now. The couple
Walls are painted or papered in jewel-rich colours and lled with inherited furniture and paintings.
have three children, all of whom grew up here. They love ! lling the house with people and have a uniquely eclectic decorative style in which colour is a key ingredient. ‘ I emerged from growing up in a very beige and green house and thought, OK – I’m going for it,’ says Ra "a.
Everything Has a Story
The combination of old, new and quirky begins in the entrance hall, where three unframed Angelica Kau "man roundels depicting muses hang. They came from Bruce Castle – a progressive 19th- century school in London, set up by Dennis’s
ancestors. A pale!e of red and yellow assails you when you enter the drawing room. Exotic rugs bought on trips to the Middle East, inlaid Indian tables carried home as hand luggage and Chinese glass paintings bought in a junk shop in Beijing add to the opulent e"ect.
The elaborate Dutch marquetry bureau that takes centre stage in the room is Dennis’s most prized family heirloom. ‘ It brings back lovely memories of my mother si!ing at it writing, and the drawers are still full of odd things like my father’s medals, and my mother’s visiting cards that she used in the 1930s when she was # rst married,’ he recalls.
Above hangs a large painting of a camel by contemporary British artist Kate Boxer. ‘Although we wanted a painting of an elephant, and Kate Boxer had made a series of elephant prints, by the time we sought her work out, she’d moved on to camels. But we bought the camel anyway with this room in mind,’ Ra "a explains. The exotic $ avour of the room is accentuated by a pair of striking red and yellow Indian parasols. ‘I bought them at Chelsea Flower Show, meaning to use them for the garden, but mostly they live here. I love the jingle of the sequins when the wind blows,’ says Ra "a.
An accomplished $orist and stylist, evidence of Ra "a’s creative skills and humour is sca!ered throughout the house. On the kitchen wall hang two large seahorses made by Ra "a from dri %wood that she collected from a local beach. ‘ They were made for a
The canopy that Ra a made from Indian saris sits happily among old doll’s houses that belonged to Dennis’s mother.
charity dinner. Seahorses live in the waters at nearby Studland, so they seemed an appropriate decoration,’ explains Ra !a.
Elsewhere, in a bedroom, the canopy that Ra !a made from Indian saris sits happily among old doll’s houses that belonged to Dennis’s mother, and a Victorian découpage screen discovered in a Su !olk junk shop. A classical bust is decked with a leather helmet that belonged to an Afghan soldier, and Dennis’s skiing medals, and dri "wood trees sprout beneath family portraits.
Although the couple absolutely love entertaining and spending time in their exotic home, their wanderlust remains as strong as ever. They are planning a trip to Central America later this year – it will come as no surprise if they return laden with a haul of new and exciting pieces to add to their collection.
Three storeys high, with large sash windows set in mellow brick, the Doggards’ family home in south Dorset was built in the late Georgian period and modelled on a Bath terraced house.
ABOVE A huge scrubbed pine kitchen table is the centre of family life. Raffa made the seahorses from driftwood, collected on a local beach. The painting of an Andalusian house is by Nicholas Hely Hutchinson; the roundels hanging above the doorway to the drawing room depict muses and are painted by Angelica Kauffman. RIGHT The mantelpiece in the study is filled with treasures gathered on Raffa and Dennis’s many travels to Asia and elsewhere.LEFT On the shelf, above the specially ordered red Aga, is an assortment of blacksmith-made scissors from Uzbekistan and a Sri Lankan mask of the fire demon, Gini Raksha.
The Owners Raffa Doggard, a retired floral stylist and keen gardener and cook, and her husband Dennis, a security specialist and avid traveller, moved here from Suffolk when their three now-grown-up children were small. The Property A three-storey, six bedroomed house, built in the early 19th century in south Dorset. The kitchen, hallway and reception rooms are on the ground floor. A sweeping staircase leads to the three main bedrooms, each with an en suite bathroom, on the first floor, and three more bedrooms, a bathroom and an office upstairs.
ABOVE The drawers and compartments in the mahogany marquetry-inlaid desk are filled with family mementos and letters. The rugs were bought on a recent trip to Tabriz.RIGHT Space under the elegant Georgian staircase provides a home for an elaborate Victorian piano, decorated with dried flower heads and woven willow baskets. LEFT A pair of Indian sequinned parasols in red and yellow provide a quirky richness that characterises the room. The painting of a camel is by Kate Boxer. The bust of Achilles to the right is a 19th-century plaster cast of an antique original. The gilded baroque-style console table was bought at a local auction.
THIS PAGE The Georgian-style tester bed is made up of antique components and covered with a patchwork quilt made by Dennis’s mother in the 1930s, and a Berber bedcover bought on one of the couple’s travels.BELOW A pair of oval Regency embroidered pictures were made by a family ancestor. The Edwardian marquetry-inlaid chest and matching chairs provide an opulent accent that contrasts with the bold curtains. RIGHT A cabinet in ‘The Red Bedroom’ is adorned with Indian hardwood doors. The Victorian découpage screen was found in a junk shop.
ABOVE An Old Master painting that depicts Bacchus and Venus, which was inherited from the family, hangsabove brocade shoes bought in Pakistan. The Moroccan Berber bedcover is embroidered with mirrored sequins.RIGHT In ‘The Blue Bedroom’, a Portuguese ebonised bed bought in Lisbon provides the centrepiece of the room. The wallpaper came from Colefax and Fowler and its vibrant hue is echoed in the blue tablecloth and enamelled dressing table set.