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This terraced house in Hawley Square, Margate has served many uses since it was built around 1835. Initially a fashionable holiday home for the upper classes spending the season down from London by the sea, it soon found itself a packed boarding house for holiday-making workers in the summer and a feather & fur workshop in the winter, perhaps supporting the actors, actresses and audience of the Theatre Royal next door.

From the 1970s the house became offices, first for the local authority, and later for a firm of solicitors, until the '90s when it was used only for storing files.

In 2015 Sam Causer bought the house to become his home, with the architecture studio in the mews behind.  The refurbishment has allowed experimentation into a form of 'light-touch' conservation, with an (almost) strict adherence to SPAB principles of repair and contemporary intervention only, as distinct from 'renovation' where old surfaces and materials are made to appear new.

1835 HOUSE

Hawley Square, Margate


The photos below show the house during the repair process in early 2016 peeling back layers, each necessitating a choice about how much further to go.

The image bottom left reveals how loose the original plaster had become; most of it held in place only by the 1930s wallpaper. 

This photograph (bottom right) shows the house in around 1900, then known as 'Bells Boarding House', with a sign on the wall advertising the manufacture of 'feathers and feather stoles', and 'furs cleaned.. moths extracted'. To the left is the team of contractors team led by Mick Moyse of MAM Builders standing in the same place as Mr and Mrs Bell over a century before.  The next phase of work will include repairs to the front facade, due to start in spring 2017.

The colour of the wall in the first floor sitting room shown in the image to the left is curious; we think that the orange is not a paint, but a historic glue used to adhere wallpaper to the plaster. This would explain why it is so thin, and loosely applied. The yellow-beige over tones are the remaining backing of wallpaper which light rubbing with a damp cloth did not remove.  Other walls in the room (above left, and right) seem to be of light custard-yellow lime-washed plaster. The areas of white are a contemporary marble dust plaster we used to fill the holes and make repairs where it had fallen off when the wallpaper was removed.

The colour sample boards (left) were used to help decide what colour to paint the wainscot panelling.  Around the year 2000 the panelling was painted Wedgwood blue (below, far right) which looked so bad against the yellow/orange walls it was the only element of the house that we redecorated for aesthetic reasons only. The colour is temporarily off-white, to match all the other joinery in the house while we decide a longer-term future. 

The timber fire surround (right) was found on ebay, and replaces 1990s panelling, itself concealing a 1930 tiled surround, all of which was removed. In the next phase of work we will line the flue and install a working fire grate.