VICTORIA JENKINS INTERIORS The old castle bakery
PUBLISHED: 17:07 23 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:56 20 February 2013
This ancient, yet modern house was once the bakery for Warwick Castle, now it's a comfortable home.
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Every Saturday morning Hilary Cload sets about making bread in the family kitchen in exactly the same spot that bread has been made for the past 300 years. For Hilary and her husband Barrie live in a house that was once the old bakehouse to Warwick Castle and indeed the castle walls are only just across the road.
Our listed Grade II house was built in about 1729 as the castle bakery and there is still a little door in the castle walls which they would have gone through to deliver the bread, says Barrie, a former MD of Volvo Trucks Ltd.
The Cloads and their three children Jessica, Harry and Jack, moved into their unusual home 16 years ago. It had just been extended by a builder (which meant demolishing a small cottage in the process) and had gained a large sitting room, a dining room, a bigger bedroom with en suite bathroom and a garage as a result. Apparently part of the extension covered what had been the old town ditch so the footings had to be deeper than normal, says Hilary.
However, the house was not quite finished so the Cloads knew there was some extra work to do.
When we first walked in I thought wow! says Barrie. It was such an unusual space with many striking features.
It looked unloved, an orphan, says Hilary. But with four bedrooms there was enough space for us all and we knew we could do something with it.
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Among the original features were the beams, the huge old lintel above the Aga in the kitchen, the old exposed brickwork and a
However, also striking were some new features designed to look old such as the huge inglenook fireplace in the sitting room, the Arts & Crafts style of the maple kitchen units and the oak flooring throughout. Although in some rooms we think we still have the original oak boards, says Barrie. There was also a charming roof garden on two levels outside.
But moving in was fraught as the Cloads found themselves waiting for hours in their solicitors offices waiting to exchange and complete on the same day because the owner had apparently suffered a case of cold feet. It was a bit of a cliffhanger, says Hilary. If he had pulled out at the last minute we would have been stuck as we had sold our own home and had nowhere to go.
At last the deal was done and the family moved in and set about finishing off the work. They refurbished the two bathrooms with new suites from Fired Earth, replaced the lighting with recessed halogen lights throughout, planted the split-level roof garden and added a fountain, pool and waterfall. It took about 18 months in all.
They saw no need to change the kitchen which had a timeless quality and was made to a very high standrad using maple units with typical Arts & Crafts square handles; the old tiled floor, too, looked as though it had been there for centuries.
Among the attractive extras the Cloads put in were the two sets of glass doors one pair dividing the big sitting room and the other separating the dining room from the sitting room, which were inspired by the peacocks in the castle grounds whose plaintive calls can be heard from time to time.
We started afresh when it came to our furniture, says Hilary. Soon after the move Hilary started her own business called Elegant Clutter Ltd (now her two eldest children Jessica and Harry work for it) which supplies themed furniture and fittings for pubs, hotels and cruse ships. Much of our furniture and fittings came from our suppliers too, says Hilary. However, her bedroom furniture in shades of pale green and light yellow came from Harrods only last year and is from the French La Grange range. As for the peacock embroidered bedspread this just emphasises the peacock theme of the glass doors downstairs.
More recently the couple went on the Orient Express from Bangkok to Singapore and ended up hiring half the Thai staff on the train to come to work for them in Warwick. We had so much art work as a result of Elegant Clutter that we decided we must sell it, says Barrie. But instead of opening a gallery we chose to open a Thai restaurant in nearby Swan Street where people can study the artwork at their leisure. Its called The Art Kitchen.
He finishes: We love our home as it is definitely a bit different from the norm. One advantage is that being so close to the castle is that we can sit on our balcony and hear all the concerts for free!