Architects Architecture Restaurants

The Ordnance Storekeeper’s House + The Command House Chatham Kent


The Command House, right at the water’s edge and nestled below the tower of St Mary’s Church high on the hill behind, commands long distance views across the River Medway on the approach from Rochester to Chatham. Following a half a million pounds restoration by Stonegate Group, the largest pub company in the UK, it has flung open its eight raised panel triglyph frieze and modillion corniced fluted Doric pilastered door to customers. A bar and restaurant fill the piano nobile and spill out onto the garden stretching across to the river.

Built in the opening decades of the 18th century as The Ordnance Storekeeper’s House for Chatham Gun Wharf and later used as officers’ housing, The Command House is a fine example of the Queen Anne style. The symmetrical river facing façade is a parapeted two storeys over raised basement in height and five bays with single bay flanking lower wings in length. The red brick elevations have stone dressings.

But it is the side elevation overlooking the carpark which has the most interesting feature. An open lunette. It is set in the colossal chimneystack rising over the valley between the double piles of the roof. Sir John Vanbrugh was master of the lunette, void and chimneystack. He brings his sense of drama to all three in Kings Weston House, Bristol. The architect of The Command House is not recorded but clearly had a strong command of the classical architectural language.

Architects Architecture

St Patrick’s Purgatory + Lough Derg Donegal

Station of the Cross

Inch. St Ernan’s. Station. Ah. The eternal magic of County Donegal islands. Legend has it that if the priest rowing across Lough Derg to Station Island has red hair, the boat will sink. The island has long been a place of pilgrimage dedicated to the Patron Saint of Ireland. In 1837, Samuel Lewis recorded a calamitous case of titian haired sailing in his Topographical Dictionary of Ireland: “About 10 years since a boat having 80 pilgrims on board swamped and went to the bottom, and only three of the number were saved; the bodies of the rest were afterwards found and interred on Saints’ Island.”

Lough Derg is a large piece of water in a declivity among shallow hills some 240 metres above sea level in south Donegal. It has several small islands, two of which – Saint’s Island and Station Island – have long been associated with the penitential exercises for which the place is famous,” notes Alistair Rowan notes in The Buildings of Ireland: North West Ulster, 1979. He continues,

Station Island is now almost completely covered with buildings of which the large centrally planned Church of St Patrick by William Scott is the most recent. Designed in 1921 and built in phases by T J Cullen after Scott’s death, it is a massive neo Romanesque pilgrimage church, octagonal, with short cruciform arms, flanking circular towers to the entrance portal, and primitive Norman arcades outside. In 1912 Scott had also designed the grim New Hostel block, a three storey concrete frame, with modern battlements, providing space for 220 cubicles. The Old Pilgrims’ Hospice, a three storey stone built block erected by Father James McKenna in 1880 to 1882, has been spoilt by the removal of its gables and the addition of a clumsy mansard roof. Beside it are four substantial two storey Georgian houses in an irregular curve in front of St Mary’s Church, a modest four bay lancet hall with a gabled porch, statue niche, and short chancel…” Bringing the architectural history up tp date, Editor and Publisher of Ulster Architect Anne Davey Orr confirms, “In the 1980s the architects McCormack Tracey Mullarkey designed the additional dormitory blocks built by McAleer and Teague. Joe Tracey was the principal architect.”

Today there are two sailors operating St Columba and St Davog’s boats on Lough Derg. Both are brunettes.

Architects Architecture Hotels Restaurants Town Houses

Scarborough North Yorkshire +

Big Red Riding Hoods

Everything’s different up north from the prices (lower) to the portions (bigger), from the hills (steeper) to the weather (colder). And of course not forgetting that fare (plenty of parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme and tea). Then there’s the ruggedness: a brooding dark stone cliff looms ahead and that’s just Richard and Samuel Sharp architects’ 1830s Crescent. England’s original seaside resort Scarborough embraces the coastline twice: North Bay and South Bay. Sandy rows. Separating the two bays is the precipitous Castle Hill which thanks to its multiplicity of castellated houses creeping up to the castle itself should be pluralised in name really. On the climb up to Castle Hill is St Mary’s Church where Anne Brontë is buried.

Agnes Grey House. La Baia. Colli Gham. El Eid. Greno. Helaina. Howdale. The Kimberley. The Paragon. The Ramleh. Rockside. The Thoresby. Wharncliffe. The Whiteley. Homes and bed and breakfasts. Deals Takeaway probably the best Deals in town. God is always greater than all our troubles. Peaches. Three course lunch 6.50. Tony Skingle is Elvis. Wanted Wanted Wanted Wanted. Signs and plaques and placards. And everywhere, the screeching cacophony of chips stealing herring gulls. Liverpool-on-Sea. Margate-on-more-Sea.

Architecture Art Country Houses Hotels Luxury People

Chilston Park Hotel + Lenham Kent

Palace in Wonderland

Lenham Village Kent © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

The black and white half timbering of the medieval house jettying over the graveyard is matched by the monochromatic wooden porch gable attached to the Early and Very Early English St Mary’s Church. Coordinating domestic and ecclesiastical architecture separated by the dead. Lenham Village betwixt Ashford and Maidstone in a stretch of Kent that never feels entirely rural lives up to its Medieval Village brown sign. A discreet distance away on the far side of the M20 lies Chilston Park Hotel, full of the living and the alive.

St Mary's Church Lenham © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

The Alice in Wonderland scale chess board and pieces on the lawn are enough to make Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson burst into song. And the weather would force Belinda Carlisle to belt out her hit Summer Rain. Safely and elegantly ensconced in the great indoors, what’s not to love though? Lunch in The Marble Lounge is a sheer delight. Presumably named after its gargantuan pedimented fire surround, a piece of architecture in its own right, the entrance hall as it really is could also be called The Flagstone Hall or The Hall of Mirrors.

Chilston Park Hotel Kent Topiary © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Chilston Park Hotel Kent Chessboard © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Chilston Park Hotel Kent Seats © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Chilston Park Hotel Kent © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Chilston Park Hotel Kent Entrance © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Chilston Park Hotel Kent Facade © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Chilston Park Hotel Kent Mews © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Chilston Park Hotel Kent Marble Hall © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Chilston Park Hotel Kent Oriential Case © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Chilston Park Hotel Kent Bust © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Chilston Park Hotel Kent Portrait © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Chilston Park Hotel Kent Staircase Hall © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Chilston Park Hotel Kent Staircase © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

It’s like lunching in a National Trust property. So it comes as no surprise to learn that Chilston Park was converted into a hotel by Martin and Judith Miller, authors of Miller’s Antiques. Judith is also a presenter on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow. “I just feel a connection with historical buildings,” she shares. “My interest in antiques comes from discovering them through the pursuit of history.” Almost four decades later, and despite changing hands several times, a current inventory of the furnishings and art in the rooms would read like a supplement to Miller’s Antiques. The last private owner was the extravagantly monikered Aretas Akers-Douglas, 1st Baron Douglas of Baads and Viscount Chilston of Boughton Malherbe. The peer was a Conservative Home Secretary. It is currently owned by Hand Picked Hotels whose portfolio includes historic properties across Great Britain and the Channel Islands.

Chilston Park Hotel Kent Landing © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

The architectural history of the house is almost as complicated as the Really Early English St Mary’s Church Lenham. The first building was a turn of the 16th century courtyard house. In the opening decades of the 18th century, an earlier central tower was replaced with a three bay pedimented projection and the house was generally revamped. The resultant balanced elevations – two storey red brick sash windowed hipped roof – present a convincingly coherent Georgian pile. Subtle asymmetries and eccentric quirks of the floor plan reveal otherwise. A neo Jacobean staircase hall, ancillary stairs and corridors all lit by roof lanterns gobble up the courtyard. There are 53 bedrooms in total spaced across the main house, mews houses and converted stables. On the first floor of the main house, the northeast facing Queen Anne Room, Hogarth Room, Guilt Room and Oriental Room overlook the lake. The east and southwest facing Regency, Victoria, Byron and Evelyn Rooms have views of nine hectares of parkland. Tulip and Rowlandson Rooms overlook the mews houses to the west. As Lewis Carroll wrote, “There were doors all round the hall.”

Chilston Park Hotel Kent Corridor © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Architecture Art Hotels

Lavender’s Blue + Radisson Blu + Gdańsk

Teutonic Nights | Lighting the Trip Fantastic

Naturally we’d end up a few miles from the Russian border this summer. It’s baking, and we mean fry-an-egg-on-the-pavement baking hot, but we’re cool as cucumbers on ice. As the temperature soars, so does our sense of anticipation. Burn! Home of Daniel Fahrenheit, electric Tricity it is. Radisson Blu. Blue is the new black. Breakfast has the eggs factor. Suite, the wow. The hotel hides behind a wildly flamboyant 17th century façade looking across Dlugi Darg. A street named desire.

At the epicentre of the province of Pomerania is Gdańsk| Gdynia | Sopot. The trinity that is Tricity. Gdańsk and Sopot are poles apart, or at least separated by a 30 minute taxi ride. The former is Poland’s most historic city, looping round the Motlawa River, all remade medieval dreams and spires; the latter is Poland’s most exclusive resort, embracing the Baltic Sea, all cream hued beaches and wind sculpted dunes. Sopot has nightclubs – lots of Pole dancers and last tangos. Gdynia is somewhere in between, by map and metaphor. It’s also worth heading to nearby Hel and back for spotting the haves and the have yachts.

Dr Paul Richards, Chairman of King’s Lynn Hanseatic Club, recognises an Anglo Polish connection: “Gdańsk and King’s Lynn were major trading partners in the 15th and 16th centuries.” Knowing both places well, he recommends, “The Maritime Museum on the River Motlawa – it includes the Great Crane of Zuraw. Also the very large brick church St Mary’s which isn’t far from there.” St Mary’s is purportedly the largest brick church in the world. He highlights Dlugi Darg as a street of great historic interest. Tricity is hot.

Right. Off to The Esteemed Graduates of International Academies of Fine Art Show in The Great Arsenal.  The Award of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage goes to the talented young artist Aneta Kublik. She describes her apparently monochromatic work See Invisible, “The aim of my work is to show anxieties and fears, feelings that have no form or shape. To reveal the visibility of these abstract concepts I used a figurative representation of deer – animals immersed in fear. By limiting the palette of colours, I focussed on the right brush movement which creates animals, plants and landscapes emerging from the darkness. My works are seemingly black, but with the right light or perspective we can discover the image – its movement, shape and hidden colours.”