Thorpeness in Suffolk is a unique place. Created as a ‘holiday village’ by the Ogilvie family who made their money on building railways, the hamlet has a theatrical feeling about it. Mock Tudor holiday homes nestle around a boating lake complete with islands. There is a luxury Country Club with an 18 hole golf course, swimming pool and tennis courts. And in this quirky place even the water tower is made a feature of. Designed to look like a cottage on 70ft stilts, it is affectionately known as the ‘House in the Clouds’. J.M. Barrie, friend to the Ogilvies and a frequent visitor to Thorpeness, it was promoted as the ‘Home of Peter Pan’ and inspired the names of the islands and landing places around the Meare.
Margaret Ogilvie’s Almshouses, built in 1926, are no less notable. The buildings are constructed in part facing brick, part blockwork and part rendered external walls with applied stained timber framework. Early Crittal metal casement window openings with leaded lights are contained within a stone surround divided by stone mullions and the roof is covered with plain clay tiles.
The layout of each of the twelve dwellings that make up the almshouses fell well below current standards and we were asked to upgrade and refurbish the entire building in order to bring it up to date whilst remaining within the conservation requirements of a listed building. This naturally involved extensive negotiation with the Conservation Department.
Circulation spaces were also reconfigured in order to optimise the available accommodation. Kitchen and bathroom spaces were completely overhauled, converting small bathrooms to wet rooms with level access showers and new sanitary ware.
All gas and electrical heating and hot water systems were upgraded and the entire building was fitted out with a patent internal wall lining system together with additional loft insulation. All the windows were secondary glazed to increase insulation and to preserve the existing metal windows.
The electrical installation was also upgraded to comply with current standards and repairs were carried out to the roof, decorative stonework and the external rendering. The result is an historic, listed building which is now fit for 21st century living.
Margaret Ogilvie Almshouses
East Suffolk Council
Grade II, Refurbishment completed
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