For this month, we're back on dry land!
Whilst driving around the countryside of Dorset, I happened across a lodge built for one of the many local manors. Whilst I've seen a few of these before, it occurred to me that it would be a great subject for this months architectural design.
The challenge would be deciding which one to base mine on; since there is a fair variety, and they're all rather fancy and adorable!
A Brief History
Manor houses are a common sight in England; in fact there are thousands of them across the country! Prior to the Tudor era, many such manors were fortified in lieu of the feudal lords that owned them. Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries meant that many former ecclesiastical properties were now granted to the King's favourites; and as such meant that many former priories and abbeys became private country houses. Within 500 years, fortified houses gave way to architect-designed mansions; particularly from the reign of Elizabeth I onwards. By the time Charles I was king, towers and turrets were back in fashion, but not used in their original roles as defensive structures. The Palladian style gave way to Baroque, ancient Greek styles, and then neoclassicism.
Palatial houses were the haunts of the privileged and wealthy few. These mansions were often seen as weekend houses, and as such were based around entertainment of guests in particular; the better the parties, the greater the power of the owner. However, country houses were somewhat different in that they didn't just benefit the lucky few. It provided hundreds of people in the local area with employment, and quite often they received rent-free accommodation. In a period of time where malnutrition and a lack of medicine caused a lot of premature deaths, it really was a great place to live and work. Not only would they live rent-free, but they'd also sleep in proper beds, have 3 meals a day, and wore well-made clothes.
Despite their lavish nature, in 1970, hundreds of country houses were demolished. This was mainly due to the cost of living in them, and a change in social culture; many owners (even those that were extremely wealthy) saw their immense house as a colossal waste of money; especially considering the perceived influence and cultural privilege associated with owning such grand mansions was on the decline. Whilst there have always been demolitions of grand country houses ever since the 15th century, quite often they were rebuilt or a new building of different design put up in their place. What changed with the 20th century was that rebuilding rarely ever happened. With social, political, and of course financial reasons for demolishing country houses, it is said that over a sixth of all country houses in England were demolished in the 20th century. Increased taxation and the shortage of staff began to take effect on England's country houses, and this wasn't helped by the fact that due to marrying within aristocratic circles; families would often end up owning multiple manors! As such, it was common for them to retain the most conveniently located house, and demolish the rest.
It wasn't until the 1960s that the importance of country houses to the architectural world was realised, and it would be a further two decades before anything really was done to secure important country houses for future generations to enjoy. The 21st century saw a huge change in public opinion, for the first time, the general public were also realising the importance of these houses; Tyntesfield was saved in 2002 thanks to a huge public appeal. Nowadays, mainly thanks to the listing of such buildings, it's neither viable nor legal for any listed building to be demolished. This doesn't affect all country houses though; and some are still at huge risk of being lost forever.
Thankfully, the houses now have a lot less to do with purely keeping the wealthy occupants interests in mind, and a substantial amount of houses are open to the public for their enjoyment. This social change has helped people take the architectural merits of these buildings into view, and most now realise that these impressive buildings would be better saved than demolished. Longleat House, being the first country house to open to the public, was saved from demolition, and the safari park that it opened was the first of its kind outside of Africa. This brought about a new industry; the Stately Home Industry. Finally, country houses were available to the public!
Manor House Lodges
I've talked a lot about the country houses and manors, so perhaps I should focus now on the gatehouses and lodges themselves! As such houses were often surrounded by a lengthy brick wall or other boundary, there would often be multiple tracks into the estate. These were often situated a fair way from the main house, but still needed to be manned at all times. In order to provide some protection for the porters, gatehouses were built. Many owners of country houses saw this as a great opportunity to show off their wealth; and some very ornate and grand structures could be found on some estates. Quite often the family crest or coat of arms would be carved into stonework; especially in the Tudor era, when such things would be seen as a sign of great status, and were often well-known and respected symbols steeped in family history.
In the Georgian era, many walls, walled gardens, and gatehouses were swept away, and landscaped parks would be put in their place. Their love for symmetry meant that they quite often constructed two lodges; one either side of the main entrance track. Many saw these lodges as a great way to experiment with different and quirky architectural styles. Quite often there would be multiple styles within the same estate; as can be seen at Wimborne St Giles.
Whilst the lodges are no longer used for their original purposes, fortunately a lot of them have been saved, with many having been converted into holiday cottages. Their self-contained and remote nature makes them very popular, especially with their quite often quirky nature. After all, who wouldn't want to stay in a little piece of architectural whimsy and extravagance?!
Various lodges, Wimborne St Giles House. (Dorset) Imagery by Google.
St Giles' House is an impressive Grade I listed manor house located in Wimborne St Giles. It was built in 1651, and is surrounded by 5500 acres of estate. The architect is unknown, but the influence of Inigo Jones is very clear; particularly the north Renaissance elevation, and the east which features as Classical facade. The original plan of the house is a square courtyard, and various features have been both added and removed over the centuries; most notably a crenellated parapet. The surrounding 400 acre estate park itself is Grade II* listed (in the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens), and features a serpentine lake, a 1000 yard avenue of beech and garden ornaments. There's also a garden grotto featuring shells which was restored in July 2014. The house has remained in the Ashley-Cooper family since the 15th century when they moved from Wiltshire; there, they had owned the manor of Ashley since the 11th century.
The cottage above is an early or mid 19th century red brick lodge in a cottage ornee style. The low eaves of the extension form a house of very slender profile, whilst still giving plenty of room inside. Decorative brickwork (as can be seen by the diamond above the window) is typical of many such lodges.
Lodge, Edmondsham House & Gardens. (Dorset) Imagery by Google.
Built in 1598, this Tudor/Georgian house has spacious lawns and a walled kitchen garden that still produces food to this day. The house was extended with additional wings during the 18th century, and the interior was extensively remodelled during the 19th century. It was built for Thomas Hussey, and used locally made bricks to produce a Dutch-style frontage; the flanking wings of 1740 having been built in a similar style. About 100 years later, the frontage was rendered in stucco, but one of the flanking wings retains its original brick facade. Inside, a pair of carved staircases still remain from the 17th century. Surprisingly, the house has remained in the same family for over 400 years, and is open to the public for tours.
Court Pavilions, Montacute House. (Somerset) Imagery by Google.
Montacute House is a traditional E shaped Elizabethan mansion. This Grade I listed building is split over 3 storeys, and is one of few houses from this era to survive almost unchanged. It was built in about 1598 by Sir Edward Phelips, and was built with the local Ham Hill stone. Although the architect is unknown, it is said to have been designed by stonemason William Arnold (also responsible for Cranborne Manor). After numerous owners, it seemed the house was nearing the end of the line when it was put up for sale in 1929; with a scrap value of £5,882. In fact, excluding the family portraits of the Phelip's (one of the previous families; who were resident between 1823-19110), the entire contents of the house were sold off. After remaining as an empty shell for a few years, the house was sold to philanthropist Ernest Cook, who presented it to the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. Today the house and grounds is in the care of The National Trust, and has even been featured in a variety of films.
Whilst the original gatehouses were long-demolished, two small buildings marking the corners of the court still exist to this day. There are mixed reports as to what these were built for. One report saying that they were purely ornamental, which is impressive considering the attention to detail on the stonework; but then again, follies were all very ornate structures even though most had no purpose! Other sources say these buildings could have originally been intended as banqueting rooms, but were later used as bedrooms. Whatever the case, with their ogee domed roofs, they're an impressive sight. The gatehouse would originally have sat between these Grade I listed pavilions.
Gatehouse, Cranborne Manor (Dorset).
Cranborne Manor is a Grade I listed country house. Amazingly, this manor dates back to 1207/8 and started off life as a hunting lodge. In the early 17th century, it was remodelled as a country house for Robert Cecil, the 1st Earl of Salisbury. This rare surviving 13th century dwelling is constructed of ashlar, rubble, and flint; with brick chimney stacks. Most of the 17th century rooms, panelling and fireplaces remain, as do many of the stone doorways. The estate itself is spread over 3000 acres of farm, 1700 acres of woods, and the park and gardens.
The gatehouse itself is a Grade II* listed early 17th century addition; presumably built during the conversion from the original hunting lodge to the manor house. It is built in English bond brickwork, with pyramidal roofs, and also features a moulded ashlar archway. The two 2-storey lodges are set diagonally, mimicking the chimney stacks of the main manor house.
Gatehouses, Wimborne St Giles House. (Dorset) Imagery by Google.
These rather splendid gatehouses/lodges are either late 18th century or early 19th century. The single storey stone and stucco lodges are known as pepper-pots due to their shape. Having been left to slowly decay over the decades (As can be seen in the photo above), in recent years they have been fully restored, and are now 1 bedroom holiday lets, finished to a high standard.
Gatehouse, Beaulieu Palace House. (Hampshire) Imagery by Google.
This beautiful Grade II* listed medieval gatehouse with its own clock tower is a 13th century treasure. There is a 1 and a half storey cottage attached with a room above the archway. The clock tower being dressed with tiles to match the rest of the structure. The adjacent wall is around 3m tall, and features inclined stone to the top. This would make a pretty spectacular cottage, and I'd love to see inside!
Pepper Pot Lodge
Whilst initially very tempted to base this months design on the above gatehouse at Beaulieu, instead I decided to go with the rather charming pepper pot lodges at Wimborne St Giles; mainly because I felt they would be slightly more common than gatehouses. As the two at Wimborne have both been fully restored and converted already, it gave me a good headstart. As you can imagine, whilst I've used the conversions as inspiration, I've made some big changes to the interior to better suit what I had in mind from the start; in particular, some of the decor used seemed a bit too modern, and I was keen for a more traditional country look.
As is quite often the case in any conversion I design; I've kept the exterior of the property as-is. Usually I prefer not to alter the exterior fabric of the building where possible, although quite often a skylight or two can go a long way to improving the interior space without detracting too much from the appearance of the exterior. The only exterior modification I've done here is to add guttering to the porch; this is mainly so that water doesn't run down the side of the building. I will own up to making a mistake with the windows - there are actually too many glazing bars, and they are not leaded as they should be. This was an oversight on my part, and it was too late to fix before this blog entry went up.
Anyway, now that you've seen the outside, let's take a section view through the building and look at the floorplan!
Unusually for my designs, this building doesn't make use of vertical space, and is entirely on one level. It also features high ceilings; something regular readers will know I don't like! In order to separate the living room and kitchen without adding a door, I decided to make use of the high ceiling and form a stepped area by the front door. This helps to break the spaces up whilst still making it feel open. The general layout of the lodge is pretty simple. The porch leads to the kitchen on the left or the lounge on the right. Through the lounge is a door leading to the extension; in which is the bedroom and finally the bathroom at the far end.
I've designed a pretty classic English kitchen for this months design. Being part of an estate, I wanted to keep the country house theme going, so classic wooden units and counters are the order of the day. A huge Belfast sink takes pride of place under one of the large windows, with the units going around 4 walls. Another feature I was keen to employ was the siting of the oil-fired cooker in the chimney breast that separates the two main rooms. Many country houses would have huge cookers located as such, so it's a nice nod to that. As the room is pretty big, unlike most of my designs, there is plenty of space in the kitchen to move around between areas; so you shouldn't keep bumping into people whilst preparing meals. Whilst I wasn't quite used to having such high ceilings, I did want to keep it open; not least to keep the beams exposed and thus give another focal point to the room. Speaking of which, whilst somewhat over-the-top, I've added a chandelier to hang from the beams and to make use of the added height.
With the chimney being slightly offset, the lounge takes up the larger portion of the main lodge. As you'd probably expect, the chimney itself form the main centrepiece of this room; with the roaring open fire a useful addition in this large space, particularly during cold winters. I've left traditional Victorian-era radiators in this room, as I think they go well with the general aesthetic. As with the kitchen, the large arched windows let in loads of natural light, and the same style of chandelier is also present in this room. Once again I've left it open to the rafters above; making this room feel particularly spacious. Two modern but traditionally-inspired 2 seater sofas form the main arrangement here; although the space is pretty flexible; if you'd rather have one sofa and two chairs, then that would be equally as fine. Above the fireplace I've added a solid oak mantelpiece, with a clock above it. On the floor in front of the fire is a large rug to break up the large expanse of flooring, and to the right of the chimney can be found a TV unit with shelving above.
As with all the rooms in the lodge, the decoration is somewhat minimalistic, but traditionally styled. Colours are pretty warm throughout, with the dark grey window frames forming a strong contrast. At the end of the day, you could just as easily have the windows a neutral white, or a more subtle colour to match the woodwork around the rest of the lodge. Anyway, let's walk through the only door in the lounge into the extension...
... the first of two rooms here, the bedroom, is again sparsely decorated. The chair rails in this room are painted white, although any subtle colour would work equally as well. In this design, there is only one small round window, although in hindsight a larger window or perhaps a skylight would be a better choice for many people. The bed is a standard UK queen size, with 4 drawers underneath for the storage of clothes. Whilst I haven't shown a wardrobe, there is a chest of drawers for loads of additional storage space. Again, whilst a lot lower in this room, the ceiling is open to the rafters; and I've even added some stone supports for added architectural interest.
For the bathroom I've carried over the Victorian-era style cues from the lounge. The toilet is a traditional overhead cistern type, with a long pull chain. This sort of toilet was last seen in my design for the converted L&SWR signal box from a few months back. Anyway, in this room I've gone for a sage green and white colour scheme, with some oak accents (the toilet seat and the sink worktop). The chair rail and tongue and groove boarding below gives a warm feel to the room; despite it being covered in white tiles. The classic Victorian rolltop bath hints at the sophisticated style of the country house. In actual fact, I think this may be the first bath to feature in my designs on this blog; traditionally I favour wetrooms with only a shower. Like the bedroom, the bathroom has only one small circular window. Once again, a skylight may be preferable; especially to vent any steam or hot air when using the bath.
With such tall ceilings, this design feels a bit odd to me; I'm used to (and prefer) low ceilings! That said, overall, I don't think it's a bad design, and it has ended up as quite a quaint cottage. Perhaps more suited to holiday accomodation than full time living, but that's down to personal taste I suppose. If you were to live it in full-time, I'd imagine you'd want more in the way of storage space; particularly, as mentioned earlier, a wardrobe for hanging clothes. Both the bedroom and bathroom could do with extra natural light; either with skylights or windows that would match the lounge or kitchen. Again, this is down to personal taste.
Another modification you may want to consider would be to enclose the porch and add a new front door. Whilst not a large porch; there would be enough room for shoes and boots. I'd consider this as a must-have for a property that would be lived in, as there is little storage space inside the property.
Anyway, that concludes this months architectural design! What things would you change? Let me know in the comments below. As always, please feel free to suggest ideas for a future blog entry; I always love suggestions!
Until next month,
Bath - Quigley
Chandeliers - Sketchup
Cushions - MeasuredMove
Duvet and pillows - Manu Perim
Fire grate - Carre Designs
Radiator - Jenny Selden
Rayburn (cooker) - Jonny Round Boy
Sofas - Sketchup
Tap (bath only) - Marcus H.
Toilet - cealpup
Towel rail - NofasKus