The complete refurbishment of British Army General Sir John Moore’s Hastings home provided an irresistible project for George and Charlotte Rendall
A long the East Sussex and Kent coast some of the country’s greatest military landmarks make their mark, from the hulking masonry of the Martello towers to twenty-eight miles of Royal Military canal. But if you ever wondered where some of the country’s greatest engineering projects were planned, well that would have been at 57 High Street, Hastings, by one Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore.
Moore’s Georgian house, that once provided the backdrop to this pivotal time in history, has itself seen many guises: a furniture shop, a delicatessen and food shop and student digs. When the Grade II listed building went up for sale in 2018 – in a slightly sorrier state than Moore had left it three hundred years before – the owners of Porters wine bar next door, George and Charlotte Rendall, couldn’t help themselves. “I had my eye on the property for years,” says George. “When it finally came on the market, I knew it would be a great place for a bed and breakfast.”
Re-christened, re-furbished and re-purposed, the building, now called Moore House Hastings, has been completely transformed by George and Charlotte into a fabulous new B&B, although the term bed and breakfast falls somehow short of what Charlotte and George have created. Where once there was an unloved and, in parts entirely derelict space, rapidly falling victim to the elements with holes in the roof, pigeons as guests and water pouring down the walls, is now a space of which the Old Town can be proud. Under the couple’s skill and care, the house is once again singing with joy, pulled back from the brink and straight into the 21st century as Hastings’ newest and most glamorous hospitality destination.
Layering each room with colour and texture, Charlotte has created that instant sense of luxury. Tactile sofas and cushions in luscious velvets and mismatched patterns offer touches of glamour
Moore House Hastings is now filled with pattern, colour and most importantly, people. It is no surprise that the very special atmosphere that the couple have created at Porters, which they took over in 2006 and is now a firm Hastings favourite, has been carried through to next door. For Charlotte and George, like everyone in the hospitality industry, it has been a tumultuous year and a half. Having purchased the property in 2018, they took six months to work closely with listed buildings so they knew exactly how they should proceed. Having then gone as fast as possible to get the place refurbished and open to the public over the following nine months, on the eve of throwing their doors open to their first customers, Covid struck.
Like so many others, the pandemic has played havoc with George and Charlotte’s plans. The house, having taken up a considerable budget due to its terrible condition and its listed status, has had to sit with its brand-new doors shut for most of 2020 and into 2021. It’s a story that will strike a chord with many business owners around the country. Despite the trials of the past eighteen months, Charlotte and George are incredibly upbeat and now, with the country opening up once again, the couple are looking forward to welcoming guests to Moore House.
The almost hidden entrance, off a small private gated garden, leads into a cosy reception hall. A vintage French shop counter and bespoke artwork welcomes you. Behind its understated façade, an incredible labyrinth of space opens us, almost Tardis-like, offering seven generous double bedrooms and bathrooms and a fabulous public area. “I wanted to completely go against the idea of the seaside B&B,” says Charlotte. “Our dream was to create something that sat closer to a high-end hotel experience, with fabulous interior design, comfy king-sized beds, powerful rainwater showers, fluffy towels and attention to detail throughout.” With influences ranging from Soho House to Kit Kemp, you can really see how Charlotte and George are bringing top end London hospitality to Hastings.
The double reception room, set at the back of the building, houses both the soft seating area, perfect for evening drinks or a daytime meeting, whilst the other half of the room is set up as the breakfast room. Fabrics and colours have been cleverly played with to create a lounge with two entirely different functions. At one end there is a warm and more sophisticated palette with velvet sofas and fabulous free-standing lights, at the other end the lighter tones of the same Borastapeter Korallang wallpaper (part of the Wonderland Collection by Hanna Werning) creates the fresh morning look – the perfect backdrop for a morning pastry or cappuccino. A door at the back of the room leads, rather cunningly, into the newly renovated garden of Porters next door, so guests can effortlessly slide from breakfast to lunch without ever having to step outside!
Charlotte has had the confidence to use bold colour and pattern, mixing contemporary and high street and vintage looks together to really stamp her mark on the entire space, from the public areas to the private bedrooms
Pattern is not something Charlotte has shied away from in the interior of Moore House and this is in a large part due to the collaboration with Berni and Peter from interior and giftware retailer Merchant 57, the occupiers of the front of the building. Berni’s interior design vision, according to Charlotte, was invaluable throughout the project. Indeed, the shop, now expertly packed with stunning interior accessories, sourced vintage pieces and giftware, is the only part that still remains of the ground floor retail space that was, until quite recently, a rather sprawling second-hand furniture shop. With Peter and Berni on board to help direct and source the interiors, Charlotte has had the confidence to use bold colour and pattern, mixing contemporary and high street and vintage looks together to really stamp her mark on the entire space, from the public areas to the private bedrooms. This unique sense of quirkiness and individuality is apparent throughout. “I wanted every room to have its own story,” says Charlotte. “I think it’s so important for our guests to know that each room is completely different. I used to travel all the time when I worked in sales and so I know how important it is to have character within an interior. I want people to have fond memories of their stay with us and hopefully return again and again.”
Layering each room with colour and texture, Charlotte has created that instant sense of luxury. Tactile sofas and cushions in luscious velvets and mismatched patterns offer touches of glamour. Throughout the build and the refurbishment, Charlotte and George have been keen to support local craftsmen and women and local businesses wherever possible. Most of the upholstery, including the fabulous bespoke bedheads and valances designed by Charlotte, have been created by the wonderful team at The Hastings Sofa Company, a local manufacturer who not only create upholstery for large brands and retailers such as Heal’s but are also happy to work with interior designers and retail customers on one off projects. A real local gem.
Another local interior design secret The French Depot, is where Charlotte has sourced much of the furniture. Vintage Bird, the Hastings interiors shop a few doors up from Moore House on the High Street, provided many of the fabrics. Bathroom fixtures, fittings, floorings and carpets were sourced from Kiley’s Carpets, WC1 Bathrooms in Ore and Shade’s Tiles, all local suppliers. Artisanal maker Hastings Soap Company supplies the soaps and hand lotions throughout the rooms. “It’s very important for us,” says George, “to keep our footprint to a minimum. When you run a restaurant, and now with the guest accommodation at Moore House, you become very aware of how much waste you create and what you leave behind within the environment as waste. We wanted to ensure that our eco credentials went further than how we washed our towels and sheets, we really wanted to make sure that most of our produce, wherever possible, was locally sourced and any waste or plastic use was kept to an absolute minimum.”
Walking up through the building, it’s that sense of place and a real love of Hastings that is apparent wherever you look. Where possible, windows with some of the best views of Hastings fishermen’s huts and the roofs of the Old Town, have been kept clear with just minimal sea-urchin printed window transfers, a motif taken from the Moore House logo. The history of the house has been lovingly cared for, with the original Georgian staircase hand rail, period cupboards and fabulous detailing having been brought back to life. The fact that Moore House is a three-hundred-year-old building has been championed, rather than ironed over and local carpenter Mark Barnham has worked his magic. Doorways don’t always run straight, steps and sloping ceilings pop up here and there, a stunning roll top bath had to be placed on a specially made plinth, but therein lies the absolute charm of the place. It’s unique, it’s quirky and it’s utterly charming.
Every room has been designed to suit this sense of individuality and story. The double aspect four poster bedroom in dark blue of RX2 is particularly impressive. “We had to have a four poster in one of the rooms,” says George, “but due to the size of the staircase and the door frames, the only way we could make that happen was to build the bed on site.” Maritime artwork from the couple’s own collection are married with lampshades from the retailer, Cream Cornwall which reflect George and Charlotte’s love of Cornwall, where the couple spend a lot of time, when they’re not in Hastings.
Each of the rooms has the registration number RX, after the local fishing fleet at Rye and Hastings and all the wooden key fobs are made locally in Rock-a-Nore. There’s a nod to the seaside location in the detailing in every room, but Charlotte was keen that it didn’t become a cliché. “I wanted to pay homage to our location without it becoming ‘themed’, it’s a fine line keeping the seaside vibe chic – it’s definitely a case of less is more!”
Inspired by uber hotel designer Kit Kemp, the signature in each of the rooms is Charlotte’s headboards, made bespoke by The Hastings Sofa Company. With support from Merchant 57, each room is lovingly filled with contemporary cushions, signature floral bed throws and occasional vintage furniture that all give that twist, mixing style and periods to stunning effect.
Moore House Hastings is a love story – a couple’s love of their hometown married with the love of an old building that truly needed them to bring it back to life. Saved for yet another generation, the building will offer a well needed addition to Hastings holiday accommodation, welcoming upmarket guests looking for a sophisticated stay during this, the year of the staycation, and hopefully for a long time to come. Lt. General Sir John Moore for one, would no doubt be very proud of how his home has adapted to these ever-changing times in which we live.
Find out more about booking a stay at Moore House at moorehousehastings.com
Porters wine bar porterswinebar.com
Cream Cornwall creamcornwall.co.uk
The French Depot thefrenchdepot.com
Hastings Soap Company facebook.com/Seasidesoap
The Hastings Sofa Company hastingssofa.co.uk
Kiley’s Carpets kileyskarpets.co.uk
Vintage Bird facebook.com/VintageBirdInteriors
WC1 Bathrooms wc1bathrooms.com
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