The award ceremony took place amidst the backdrop of Glastonbury, within the Somerset Rural Life Museum, on the evening of Thursday September 21st. Our very own Cornelius Crankson, an Associate and distinguished Conservation Specialist, and Charlotte Penny, an architect poised to become a renowned conservation specialist, accepted this prestigious accolade.

The judges said: “ [The Stables] is a beautiful example of a restoration guided by the original design for the building and based upon a good understanding of the building arrangement. Simple design moves have re-created elegant and exceptionally desirable spacers, with careful attention to detail executed through in-situ craftsmanship. The stables have been brought to life at ground level using the evidence found on site to inform the fixtures and fittings, all given a suitable, unobtrusive use worthy of both the original and present-day clientele.”

The Stables History

The pavilion stands as a magnificent triumphal arch, constructed with a harmonious blend of brick and stone, perfectly complementing the west pavilion that once housed the laundry and brew house on the ground floor, with maids’ accommodation above. These pavilions beautifully harmonise with the main house, originally designed by Nathaniel Ireson in 1737.

The restoration of the stables marks the third phase in the meticulous revival of Ven House, following the successful restoration of the main house and kitchen block. The original layout had been transformed into two garages with an artist’s studio above, leaving the building in a state of disrepair. Many of the original features, including the cast iron stable dividers, had been removed and scattered in various outbuildings on the estate. However, armed with the original Burton plans from 1837, the restoration process was guided with clarity and reverence.

The Restoration

The ground floor stables have been lovingly restored, featuring refurbished cast iron stall dividers, lime plaster and salvaged timbers to recapture the authenticity of the original design. Today, these stables serve as a charming tearoom and bar, welcoming numerous garden and architectural enthusiasts visiting Ven House.

The former groom’s accommodation has also been restored and transformed into a delightful one-bedroom guest flat. The groom’s bedroom now serves as a comfortable sitting cum dining room, while the hayloft has been converted into a stylish bedroom with an adjoining bathroom. The arched link connecting these spaces has been ingeniously repurposed as a small kitchenette. The apartment boasts timber boarding lining the walls, perfectly mirroring the stables below, while the original timber trussed roof remains exposed, accentuated by infill panels of lime render. To add a touch of history, the floor is adorned with reclaimed cheese boards from Holland, still bearing the visible imprint of the original wheels.

The newly created guest accommodation, fondly referred to as the ‘grooms’ or ‘bubble n squeak,’ showcases a thoughtful blend of leftover furniture from the main house, carefully curated alongside contemporary pieces and antiques. The resulting interior exudes vibrancy and charm, capturing the diverse chapters of the owners’ lives in a captivating and harmonious atmosphere.

It is worth noting that the stables building was home to a unique and protected species of brown long-eared bats, which demanded our utmost attention and care. In order to ensure their undisturbed presence and safeguard their habitat, we obtained a special license from Natural England. As part of our careful approach, we created an access hatch within the roof, enabling the bats to continue roosting without any disruption or harm to their delicate ecosystem. Our commitment to preserving their habitat remains unwavering, as we understand the importance of maintaining the delicate balance of nature.

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In Memoriam of Queen Elizabeth II