The very best new kitchens in old houses, as chosen by our expert judges

For the second year, Historic Houses and Country Life joined forces with Neptune to find great examples of new kitchens in old spaces. Last week, John Sims-Hilditch, co-founder of Neptune, announced the joint winners and a runner-up, all of whom have found highly inventive solutions to the challenge of creating a 21st-century kitchen in a listed building.

In the two years since their launch, our kitchen awards have elicited a cheering number of entries from ‘house’ members of Historic Houses, willing to share their experiences of creating kitchens that are sympathetic to historic interiors. This year’s shortlist offered three dramatically different scenarios and solutions.

Judging three such creative and sensitive responses to different objectives was never going to be an easy task. As a result, judges decided to give a joint award to the kitchens at both Wolterton Hall and Great Oakley, with a special mention for the Old Rectory.

The judging panel comprised John Sims-Hilditch, co-founder of British interiors brand Neptune, Henriette Von Stockhausen, creative director of VSP Interiors and Giles Kime, Executive Editor and Interiors Editor of Country Life.


Joint winner: Wolterton Hall, Norfolk

Keith Day and Peter Sheppard

Wolterton Hall, Norfolk.

At Wolterton Hall, Keith Day and Peter Sheppard were keen to create a kitchen that complemented the magnificent library where they spend many of their evenings and which offers magnificent views over the surrounding parkland.

The judges were full of praise for the way that the kitchen at Wolterton was designed to have minimal impact on the fabric of its surroundings and also offered the perfect environment for two or more people to work alongside one another — as well as for a professional chef to cater for gatherings in the next-door library.


Joint winner: Great Oakley Hall, Northamptonshire

Alexander and Wendy de Capell Brooke

Great Oakley Hall, Northamptonshire.

Alexander and Wendy de Capell Brooke’s challenge was to create a kitchen at Great Oakley Hall in Northamptonshire that is the focus of their large family’s busy lives.

The aim was to find a space close to the heart of the house that also offered the light, lateral space and access to the garden that can contribute so much to a successful family kitchen.

The solution, they discovered, lay in converting a garage that had been accommodated in an 18th-century addition to a house that has Tudor origins. The judges recognised that Great Oakley was a truly collaborative project between the owners, the architect Hawkes Edwards and the joiner Rob Norrish, all of whom won plaudits.


Special mention: The Old Rectory, Hampshire

John and Christina Benson

In Hampshire, John and Christina Benson’s solution to the same challenge was to repurpose an outbuilding behind their Old Rectory, leaving much of its original structure exposed. The sensitivity of the Old Rectory project was considered to be worthy of a special mention.