Uncovering the past at a Kings Langley farmhouse
PUBLISHED: 08:33 27 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:17 20 February 2013
When fragments of 200-year-old wallpaper were discovered during a renovation it was time to call in the experts, as Pat Bramley explains
HAMPTON Court experts in the history of interior furnishings made a special visit to one of Hertfordshires oldest buildings to look at fragments of wallpaper uncovered during renovations.
Archaeologists commissioned by builder David Cox to compile a historic building report on Grade II listed Hill Farm at Kings Langley put through a call to Hampton Court after the remains of a patterned paper thought to be almost 200 years old were discovered under layers of paint and plaster in the parlour of the farmhouse.
David Coxs development company BuildRiver bought the farm buildings and about 25 acres of land in December 2006.
Conservationists originally thought the farmhouse belonging to the mixed use agricultural holding opposite the green in Love Lane dated from the mid to late 16th century. But since work began to update the main house, the archaeologists believe parts of the structure could have been built even earlier.
Four years work
This is the first time the Chorleywood-based builder has given new life to historic buildings. By the time the development is finished it will have dominated his waking hours for four years.
It took two years to get planning permission, he says, its the most ambitious project Ive done so far.
Three of the five 21st century homes to be created from the conversion of the farmstead were sold off plan even before building started. Today, theres only one property left to sell the five bedroom farmhouse. The three barns have been sold and so has the converted coach house.
Old to new
One of the barns incorporated the old granary which was in such a bad state that the structure standing on staddle stones had to be dismantled, repaired and reassembled so it looks as it would have been when the former milling operation ceased.
Opposite the milling barn, a newly converted brick barn, now a beautiful country home, incorporates the old pig sties.
The floor level inside the sties had to be lowered to give good headroom in what is now a streamlined utility room but the original little doors used by the pigs are still visible. This same barn has a vast and impressive drawing room with vaulted ceiling and beautiful beams. Originally, in its previous life, it was the milking parlour. Work on the farmhouse should be finished by the autumn.
Preserving the wallpaper
Some of the wallpaper in the parlour turned out to be very interesting, said David. It was made by a London company which was only manufacturing for 20 years from 1816-1836. The experts from Hampton Court took photographs for the archives and we will preserve it behind some sort of covering so that it can be seen.
We are anxious to retain as many of the original features as possible. Its much quicker to build new houses but this is giving new life to historic old buildings which otherwise would have been lost.
Hill Farm farmhouse is on the market through Savills at Rickmansworth for 2.15m.