Could this be the best kitchen in the country?
- Credit: SIMON BROWN/ COUNTRY LIFE PICTURE LIBRARY - DO NOT USE WITH ANY OTHER STORIES EXCEPT SOPHIE'S STORY ON DEDHAM HOUSE IN KITCHEN AWARD COMPETITION.
See inside this spectacular home in the heart of Constable country which is a finalist in the hunt to find the UK’s “best new kitchen in an old space”.
The new award for 2019 "recognises the way our member houses evolve over the centuries to continue as family homes".
Dedham House, on the Suffolk Essex border, is a modest yet handsome Georgian village house which has been transformed by architect Francis Terry who has lived in the area all his life.
Speaking of his place in the competition, Mr Terry said: "It was a bit of a surprise really, but any praise and recognition is great, so we are thrilled."
The regency house was built in the 1830s in the middle of Dedham, so when Mr Terry and his family moved into the Georgian House, despite the excitement of owning such a magnificent property, the house did not lend itself to modern family living.
Mr Terry said: "The kitchen hadn't been modernised for various reasons. The nice rooms were left empty and only used on special occasions such as Christmas."
The architect, who is the son, pupil and former partner of renowned modern classicist Quinlan Terry, says that like most modern families they spend all their time in the kitchen, which was small and dark.
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So he decided to move the kitchen into one of the principal rooms, which offered the best views of the garden and was by far the best room in the house.
Mr Terry said: "When we did try to use these rooms it was a slightly forced affair involving lighting fires and generally making the rooms cosy, ready for some moment when we ought to be sitting, being 'grown up'. But somehow we would find ourselves sucked back in the old kitchen where life was actually going on.
"Like it or loathe it, the kitchen is the centre of modern life."
Mr Terry then made the bold move of putting the modern kitchen into a beautiful Georgian room, in a house previously owned by Raymond Erith R.A.
He also faced the daunting technical issues of making the room function as a kitchen - which at one point seemed an impossible task - but Mr Terry knew that continuing as they were was no longer a possibility.
Speaking of the new kitchen, Mr Terry said: "We felt it would be best to go for something in a modern style to contrast with the house, rather than create a neo-Georgian pastiche with no real precedent.
"At first, it did seem a little strange putting a modern kitchen into a beautiful Georgian room, but now we've done it, it seems entirely natural. Every generation adapts the country house to their requirements so this is our contribution to the story of Dedham House."
The submissions for the award were pored over by a panel of expert judges; including Sarah Beeny, property guru and television presenter, Kate Earle, one half of design studio Todhunter Earle Interiors, Giles Kime, interiors editor of Country Life, and John Sims Hilditch, founder and CEO of furniture and kitchen makers Neptune.
The overall winner will be announced on Tuesday, November 12 on stage at their national AGM.
To find out more about the 2019 Historic Houses Kitchen Award and to vote for your favourites see here.