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Homes    


Performance    


Learning    

1720s FARMSTEAD

Westmarsh

2020+


Society    

A number of small farmsteads grew up around the edges of the Wantsum marshes in East Kent following their draining and turn to agriculture in the early 1700s. This tiny two-up, two-down cottage would appear to be one of these, with extensions constructed to the south, east, north and west since then.  Now grade II listed, this cottage has grown so much it's hard to discern its historic core, especially with the significant internal alterations each extension brought with it.


The diagram to the right shows this core (in white) and identifies the age and significance of each of the extensions.


Our brief is to write a schedule of repairs and propose appropriate alterations to form a comfortable family home.  This will likely involve demolishing parts of the building which are harmful to the character, and providing these functions elsewhere, in a way that enhances the historic core and its beautiful setting.


Our approach to this conservation project has been to first of all understand the building, its context and the changes which have been made over time. Simultaneously, we need to understand how our clients want to live, and how these two strands come together into a robust proposal.

 

It is arguable that from a conservation point of view, the most detrimental change was the addition of the 1930s single-storey rear extension (pink) which obscures the historic rear elevation of the house, and in conjoining with the main volume removed large chunks of the back wall.


The larger 1995 extension to the north is less harmful in that it attaches itself to the northern elevation only, which is not a prime garden front, and probably didn’t have any windows to block, so there is less direct harm caused to the historic core.  However, what is unfortunate about the 1995 extension is that it pretends to be a C18th cat-slide-type extension, like that next door, but it doesn’t do it very well. This is the architectural equivalent of drag.  The resulting rooms have meanly small windows, oddly pretending to be the same as those in the c18th cottage, resulting in an awkward pastiche.   In line with SPAB philosophy, I believe it would be better for the later additions to be proudly, but gently of their time, and make a positive contribution to, rather than detract from, the older parts of the building.


Unlike many other Conservation Architects, our research and analysis is laid out graphically, with clear diagrams and 3D drawings, a range of which are shown here.  We use the most recent 3D photo-mapping and Point Cloud Data to record buildings' fabric, and as designers, we have a keen sense of why certain decisions may have been made in the past, based on a social and topographic context, which helps to understand how certain elements of the site may be sensibly altered again.


 

Below: As Existing Front (North West) Elevation

Below Right: As Existing Rear (South East) Elevation

The sequence of map extracts below show the historic development of the site from 1872 through to 1938.  We do not have access to older plans.  The main point to note is that in 1872 there were two large buildings on the site which were no longer there in the next map dated 1896.


The plan extract (below left) enlarges the 1872 map and compares it to the existing buildings in green (below centre).  It is interesting to note the service range to the south of the main building is largely unchanged since 1872, and the cut through from front to back appears on the 1938 plan.  Also noteworthy is the neighbouring house to the south is far deeper than this Cottage, meaning that if it ever did have a ‘cat-slide’ extension to the rear, it was not present in 1872.   The lost, pre-1872 buildings take two forms: i) To the north is what appears to be a larger, separate wing (or dwelling?), likely two storeys from the plan form, and ii) to the east, what is likely to be a barn, probably single storey.  This theory is based on what can be seen in the maps and local vernacular.