Biddulph Old Hall
Conservation/Restoration Highly Commended 2006
Architect: Nigel Daly Design
Joinery Company: Hetherington
Wood Supplier: Whitmore’s Timber Co
Wood Species: French Oak
Biddulph Old Hall in Staffordshire was originally a 16th Century castle which was largely destroyed by Parliamentarians during the Civil War. A manor house was constructed on the site in the 17th Century, incorporating one of the remaining walls of the castle. While there had been additions during the 19th Century, the house was mainly unrestored and the last, minor improvements took place in the 1950’s. HNB was brought in by the owners, to help restore two areas of the house – the kitchen and the staircase hall. In keeping with 17th Century timber, the European oak was selected for quarter sawn boards.
It was decided to use simple forms based on 17th/18th Century details. The island unit with large drawers under a substantial bleached sycamore top is on a massive scale while the store cupboard has pierced detailing and turned spindles. The sink run uses heavy split turnings separating open storage spaces with another substantial sycamore top above. While still a practical modern kitchen, the weight and simplicity of the woodwork are alien to modern concepts of ‘designer kitchens’.
The brief was to create something simple but massive, in keeping with the space. The newels were constructed from solid green oak 180mm square and the finial to the tops was based on the cupola to an existing tower remaining from the castle. The sides were panelled above the stringers and to the underside of the stairs. A large part of the job was scribing the staircase into the excessively irregular walls. Two large doors were incorporated into the scheme, both being 2.8m tall and made in a period style with oak pegged joints.
The clients required a finish to the oak that would be the colour of a 17th Century oak beam that had been stripped and cleaned, but not polished. As a result, all the oak was lightly sandblasted to open the grain and soften the edges. It was then treated chemically to bring the wood to a warm biscuit colour. It was finished with a treatment that leaves a slightly dusty and dry appearance