The restoration of a glorious townhouse in Silverless Street, Marlborough, has required extraordinary attention to detail – something which, thankfully, the owner had in spades.
Taking on the restoration of an old house is a major undertaking.
‘It’s not for the faint-hearted,’ says Dawn Carritt of Jackson-Stops. ‘It’s both a science and an art which is likely to require endless patience and considerable determination.’
Every detail has to be taken into account, and there are no shortcuts. A recent High Court ruling upheld the contention that ‘like for like’ replacement of original materials means exactly that: even when a more modern manufactured equivalent is an excellent match, materials that were once procured from nature or made by hand must be again.
With public money rarely available to help, the burden generally falls on individual owners to fit the bill. Thankfully, both for the preservation of our finest buildings and the pressure on housing, there are people willing to step up and do everything necessary to save these old buildings.
A case in point is that of the beautiful old home at 7 Silverless Street in Marlborough, a four-bedroom, three-reception room townhouse with a lovely sheltered garden that is currently for sale via Jackson-Stops at £725,000. This owner went in with eyes wide open: thirty years experience of restoring fine porcelain provided a fine grounding in the sort of patience required.
Although working on a house was a rather larger project than a fine piece of Meissen or Crown Derby the philosophy was just the same: assess the condition, examine the stability of the structure and the extent of the damage, then gradually build back up using traditional techniques and materials whenever possible.
Porcelain does at least have the advantage of having been made at a single point in time. Houses such as this one have all manner of additions and amendments made over various periods, some of which have taken away more than they’ve added. One of the later ‘improvements’ in the drawing room, for example, was gently removed to reveal a wonderful inglenook fireplace.
Not everything could be saved – the kitchen floor has been replaced for example – but where changes have been made they’ve been done so sympathetically and with common sense.
The result is a wonderful example of a domestic building that has survived against the odds and now has a bright future house, fit for the 21st century with true reverence to the past, thanks to the sort of endless patience and attention to detail you’d need using a 000 brush on an antique vase.
One final word of warning: restoration is addictive. Having had time to enjoy the fruits of her labours the owner has been unable to resist the temptation of doing the whole thing all over again, and is now relishing the opportunity of finding another property to rescue.
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