This is a Grade II listed, double fronted, terraced house constructed around 1800 on Dane John Gardens, just inside Canterbury's Roman city walls.
The aim of our project was to strip out all harmful, modern materials and treatments to the house carried out by a developer in the late 1990s, which had covered and removed all character. We wanted instead to reveal and relish what remained of the early1800s fabric, and introduce gentle alterations to re-orientate the house, maximising the opportunities of the site.
From the front, the house is part of a grand ‘palace’-like terrace, facing onto the elegant Dane John Gardens. At the rear however, it's more of a jumbled cottage (a schizophrenic front/back condition typical of this period) overlooking the busy Watling Street Car Park. Our proposal made the best of this situation by emphasising the views to the front and suppressing those to the back, by creating discreet and specific views into the rear walled garden or beyond to the skyline of Canterbury, while obscuring the views into the adjacent car park.
The approach to conservation in this project was led by the client's desire for everything to appear historic, but 'as new'. This meant taking apart the house, back to bare lathe and plaster, joists and brick, and carefully straightening, filling, repairing and redecorating in a manner inspired by the original craftwork. Assumed bomb damage in the 1940s had caused the whole house to jump and slump over 150mm from one side to the other, meaning all the fireplaces were cracked and misaligned, so these elements were carefully dismantled and reconstructed, with new pieces of stone where required.
Three storeys of swooping mahogany handrail was stripped of modern varnishes and French Polished with several layers of shellac to create the traditional lustre, and new limed solid oak floorboards throughout replaced the patchwork of earlier careless repairs.
New library cabinets, panelling and architraves were detailed to match remaining fragments, and installed over retained (non-original) late 19th century skirting boards so all new interventions could be subtly 'read' and reversed if required in future.
Contractor: BW May & Son Ltd
Engineer: Osborne Edwards Ltd
Photographs by Studio Sam Causer