Clague Architects recall one of their favourite Kentish restoration projects, a house trapped between two eras, brought into the 21st Century

Our first impression of the Parsonage was that of a 17th century home that had once been extended with a Victorian makeover and was now in a state of arrested decay. It had clearly been loved by many over the years but now had become trapped in time. The task at hand for us was to transform the interior of the property, working closely with interior designer Charlotte Crosland, forming and submitting the planning and listed building application along with overseeing the project onsite and acting as contract administrators. With some clever tricks and good design, it was clear the house could become a very special home.

 The property was now in private hands but was previously the home of the local Parson, and had been excessively extended in the Victorian period to be befitting of the clergy linked to the local estate. Because of this, the house was something of a tale of two centuries. The 17th century baffle entry home was brick built with historic timber joists and beams, and a large brick-built stack. Meanwhile, in the Victorian wing, beautifully ornate and lofty rooms were filled with an air of high status. 

With so much history and character packed into one house, the challenge was to maintain as many of the original features as possible while also giving it a renewed sense of vitality and continuity. In the formal drawing room, for example, we had to do extensive repairs to the windows and introduce new underfloor heating throughout, but the rest of the Victorian features were left intact and celebrated. The delightful cornicing was in great condition because it was protected by a historic double ceiling, preventing movement on the floor above from interfering with the decoration below. Likewise, in the hallway, the cornice and skirting were left intact, and our works focused on a new underheated stone floor and some interior design magic to add light and warmth. 

The historic timber was maintained as much as possible throughout the 17th century areas. We carried out repair work to the historic joists in the snug, and, in the new dining room, the original floor was given a makeover and the ceiling was repaired from above, leaving the timbers in place and visibly unaltered from below. This room was one of the bigger projects of the house as it was originally the old kitchen. The owners wanted to move the kitchen so that it could look out over the expansive gardens to the south, which meant that this room became the new dining room, and we could really show off its glorious fireplace, and make it usable for its intended purpose. Another big project which had great results was the wine cellar. The entirety of the cellar floor was dug out, with the historic bricks set aside and stored to then be laid back on top of the new floor, so that we could get a striking contrast between the authentic brickwork and the room’s new bright walls and contemporary storage.

In the end, the worn-down house once divided by the two periods that formed it, was brought together by adding a third period: the present. The contemporary styling throughout gave the house a common thread to connect the varying architectural styles, and some much needed TLC made the many character features both as good as new and firmly rooted in their history.

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