After five years of painstaking restoration, chef, writer and photographer Alastair Hendy has succeeded in returning his Grade II listed 16th century merchant’s house in Hastings Old Town to its pared-back Tudor glory.

On entering the house, one steps straight into the drawing room with its sizeable inglenook, stone floor and wood panelled walls

On entering the house, one steps straight into the drawing room with its sizeable inglenook, stone floor and wood panelled walls

The wooden shutters at the windows are closed, perhaps to keep out glimpses of bright and modern from the street outside, to soften the edges of the pared back, essential interior, but also to weave an enchantment over us, to suck us back through time into a fascinating alter-history....

The wooden shutters at the windows are closed, perhaps to keep out glimpses of bright and modern from the street outside, to soften the edges of the pared back, essential interior, but also to weave an enchantment over us, to suck us back through time into a fascinating alter-history

Alastair has brought his log store inside, which allows a plentiful supply of bone-dry logs to stoke his open fires

Alastair has brought his log store inside, which allows a plentiful supply of bone-dry logs to stoke his open fires

In rooms where candle light needs a helping hand, he has installed simple lighting in the form of adjustable pendants

In rooms where candle light needs a helping hand, he has installed simple lighting in the form of adjustable pendants

Light from the occasionally open-shuttered window illuminates wisps of smoke that swirl from the open fires on the ground floor

Light from the occasionally open-shuttered window illuminates wisps of smoke that swirl from the open fires on the ground floor

Light from the occasionally open-shuttered window illuminates wisps of smoke that swirl from the open fires on the ground floor

Now there is a pared down, utilitarian look throughout the house and even the fixtures and fittings look as they might have done when they were first installed

“I had no intention of buying such an old house. I came across it by chance. My grandparents lived in a house between Battle and Hastings, so I knew the area well. I was looking for a second home and had seen this property from the outside. I liked the fact that it hadn’t been painted black, unlike so many other Tudor houses,” says Alastair

“I had no intention of buying such an old house. I came across it by chance. My grandparents lived in a house between Battle and Hastings, so I knew the area well. I was looking for a second home and had seen this property from the outside. I liked the fact that it hadn’t been painted black, unlike so many other Tudor houses,” says Alastair

Whereas mod cons like plumbing and lighting are cunningly concealed out of sight in the rest of the house, hints of modern-day living and appliances can be spotted in the kitchen

Whereas mod cons like plumbing and lighting are cunningly concealed out of sight in the rest of the house, hints of modern-day living and appliances can be spotted in the kitchen

I gaze around in awe at Alastair’s remarkable and imaginative conversion of the kitchen area, once apparently a ‘snug’ little tv room

I gaze around in awe at Alastair’s remarkable and imaginative conversion of the kitchen area, once apparently a ‘snug’ little tv room

An instinctive storyteller, Alastair is also trained in theatre and costume design, and at times, authentic though all the additions are, and meticulously executed, you do get the feeling that you’ve walked onto the set of an elaborate production

An instinctive storyteller, Alastair is also trained in theatre and costume design, and at times, authentic though all the additions are, and meticulously executed, you do get the feeling that you’ve walked onto the set of an elaborate production

I can see where the floor has been lowered and the ‘new’ staircase carefully slotted into an original beam

I can see where the floor has been lowered and the ‘new’ staircase carefully slotted into an original beam

The kitchen and dining room are situated in the rear wing of the house and were used as a mortuary, right up until the 1950s

The kitchen and dining room are situated in the rear wing of the house and were used as a mortuary, right up until the 1950s

As Alastair shows me around, I begin to glimpse just how much vision and hard work have gone into creating a house so interesting and atmospheric that it’s turned into a tourist attraction

As Alastair shows me around, I begin to glimpse just how much vision and hard work have gone into creating a house so interesting and atmospheric that it’s turned into a tourist attraction

“Somehow that’s how I see it, as a Christmas house, with the fires and the candlelight,” says Alastair. “I tend to stay here much more often in the winter.”

“Somehow that’s how I see it, as a Christmas house, with the fires and the candlelight,” says Alastair. “I tend to stay here much more often in the winter.”

The decorations throughout the house are subtle and understated, and also have a European feel. There are branches of blue fir, simple gingerbread hearts hung with red ribbon and pine nut studded ‘trees’ propped on shelves...

The decorations throughout the house are subtle and understated, and also have a European feel. There are branches of blue fir, simple gingerbread hearts hung with red ribbon and pine nut studded ‘trees’ propped on shelves

The main bedroom, with its Tudor ‘en suite’ is home to a raised bed enclosed by wood panelling and shutters

The main bedroom, with its Tudor ‘en suite’ is home to a raised bed enclosed by wood panelling and shutters

The bones are Tudor and the furnishings are from many different countries and periods, but they all share the same raw simplicity

The bones are Tudor and the furnishings are from many different countries and periods, but they all share the same raw simplicity

Next to the attic bedroom, a large bathroom features an original bathtub lined with lead. Its sheer weight meant that the floor had to be reinforced in order to safely support it

Next to the attic bedroom, a large bathroom features an original bathtub lined with lead. Its sheer weight meant that the floor had to be reinforced in order to safely support it

The bath tub is more like a boat

The bath tub is more like a boat

A trap door in the floor of the galleried attic bedroom opens to reveal the room below

A trap door in the floor of the galleried attic bedroom opens to reveal the room below

The house’s only loo on the first floor nestles in a passageway between the bathroom and drawing room

The house’s only loo on the first floor nestles in a passageway between the bathroom and drawing room

  • words:
  • pictures: David Merewether
  • styling: Lucy Fleming

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