An important Cotswold Manor House, now fit for the 21st Century

JCA Team:
Nicholas Johnston & Peter Cave
Project Design Team:
Johnston Cave Associates (Architects)
Lady Mary Keen (Garden Design)
Project type:
Restoration and Extension
Project year: 1996

Our client’s house is indelibly associated with the Arts-and-Crafts Movement of the late 19th Century.

Ernest Gimson and Sidney Barnsley; Art-and-Crafts furniture designers and master builders had a showroom and workshop there, and the house was once occupied by William Morris’s friend and printer Emery Walker.

Not only was the house important in terms of its previous occupants, an architectural study carried out by Warwick Rodwell, consultant archaeologist to Westminster Abbey, radically overturned the accepted picture of House’s story over time, dating the main Hall to 1315 - far earlier than had been thought.

Having bought the property, our client wanted not only to preserve its 14th and 19th Century heritage, but wanted a home that was fit for the 21st Century.

Our task was to reconcile the seemingly irreconcilable.

Our solution was to add a new kitchen by extending underground which meant that the outline of the building was undisturbed, but immediately made the house far more liveable. For the upper floors we designed and constructed bathroom units that while having all the fixtures and fitting one would expect of a luxurious modern bathroom, were in effect pods that had no impact on the fabric or historical importance of the building and could easily be removed at some future date.

From then on it was a matter of careful restoration - from finding the right lime-mortar mix for seamless repairs and making sure that previous inappropriate materials such as cement and and 20th Century engineering bricks were replaced with lime mortar and hand-made bricks, failing structures were invisibly supported with steel, and plumbing and electrical services were rendered invisible rather than poking into ancient rooms.

To tie the whole property together the gardens were revived and extended by Lady Mary Keen - the renowned garden designer, writer and lecturer.

The end result, is a property that unquestionably retains its historic interest and importance, but is a supremely comfortable house that is fit for the 21st Century.