For the past 25 years, Bewsey Old Hall was rotting away like a remote desolate and dilapidated shell. However, the team Pearson Architects were not afraid of a challenge and took on the opportunity to give the striking residence a new lease of life and remodeled it into two new houses and five apartments.
Mostly Jacobean in style, the west wing of the property was sadly destroyed by a fire in 2011, which resulted in the rest of the structure becoming weakened and unstable. Suddenly, this impressive property was far from its original glory and looked to be on the road to total ruin… but then salvation came! Once the building was stabilised in line with English Heritage directives, restoration begin at full speed.
The end result is a remarkable property that has truly risen like a phoenix from the flames, together with sympathetic materials and techniques being used throughout, which work well and compliment the modern installations.
Take a look at the amazing before and after pictures and let yourself be inspired and impressed by this fantastic feat.
To look at this incredible property—complete with Jacobean styling, perfect pointing and those amazing chimneys—you could be fooled into believing that this house had remained perfectly preserved since it was first built, but as we already know Bewsey Old Hall had previously been left to simply fall apart. Now casting a dramatic and impressive silhouette against the skyline, the hall contains five apartments and two houses, all of which are contributing to the next chapter in the life of this unusual building.
A desperately sad picture, but one that is necessary to really give an understanding of just how amazing the restoration of Bewsey Old Hall has been. Missing sections of the roof, windows and walls, the exterior shell remained relatively stable until a fire in 2011 weakened completely the support structure. Presumably, many people assumed that the hall would never be renovated or rebuilt, but the team at Pearson Architects took it upon themselves to awaken the beauty that remained asleep.
The construction team faced a steep challenge when first entering the site to begin stabilisation work. The building itself is listed and therefore stringent English Heritage compliance laws were enforced. Often a stumbling block in restoration properties, adhering to sympathetic and appropriate techniques, while using approved materials, helps to create a perfectly symbiotic building that really does look as though it has always been in situ. Take another look at the first picture and you will see that the end result was truly worth all the effort and why having the right team of dedicated construction professionals—some of which are seen here—is vital.
What a transformation! This stunning view of one gable end shows what is possible when you have a considered design and era-specific detailing. The windows look as though they have never been replaced and yet we know that they have been specifically made to hark back to the time that this building was first erected. The smaller four windows at the top of the gable add extra old world charm and really bring a legitimacy to the restoration. Let's also not overlook the fact that having been split into individual properties inside, natural light needs to pour into the building at every opportunity.
The inside of the building has been converted into apartments and houses, but one thing that they all have in common is the fabulous retention of bare brick walls. Despite the ultra modern kitchen installation, this room looks cohesive and well thought out, with large expanses of the old meeting with flashes of new to create a warm, inviting and practical space. We can imagine this room looking incredible when filled with personal belongings, furniture and accessories and there is certainly room for them!
What we really love about this restoration is that the original architectural features are retained and compliment the more newer installations, nor are they cast aside for more cost-effective solutions. Take this doorway for example, which is flanked by fabulous repaired brickwork and topped with an original beam. It would have been easy to negate the Jacobean shaped stone door frame for a modern version, but that would have stripped away yet more of the features that make this such an incredible property. It's the small details like this that make a property truly outstanding.
Naturally, heritage materials and techniques aside, a property needs to be functional as well as beautiful, meaning that modern additions have to be included, such as kitchens, bathrooms, central heating and electricity. We like the way that all the apartments and houses have been kitted out with pared back, simple white installations that allow the red brick and stonemasonry to really shine through. Even the plug sockets and cabling have been given a sympathetic touch, with black conduit hiding everything and maintaining a low profile in the space. Beautiful!
What happens when old meets new? You get amazing open plan living in a room steeped in history! Take a look at this incredible kitchen/dining/living area, which is integrated so well with the original exposed support beams and newer timber flooring. The high ceilings and antique beams also provide the perfect suspension point for hanging the overhead light and extractor unit, while the stripped floorboards bring a modern and understated palette to the room. Of course, it's entirely up to residents how they choose to furnish, but if this space is anything to go by, they will struggle to overshadow the structure itself.
This front door and breathtaking stonework frame are enough to remove any lingering doubt that the renovation of Bewsey Old Hall has been done so with very highest standards in mind. The detailing is exquisite and alludes to the original life of the building, which is an important connection. Steadfast and strong, this front door is the prefect entrance for a high end complex and the modern additions have been included so subtly that the letter boxes and buzzers can slip by almost unnoticed.
Having looked at all these beautiful pictures, it comes as no surprise that all of the apartments and houses were sold directly upon the completion of this spectacular property. We'd love to see what the residents have done with their spaces.
For more restoration inspiration, take a look at this Ideabook: A charming stone cottage restored.