White Horse – Ancient inn’s superb renaissance
Magnificently restoring character and historic charm to a Grade II listed 15th century inn to create a modern-day version of a country tavern, is a recently completed project at The White Horse in Hertingfordbury.
The imaginative interiors were superbly designed by owners of The White Horse, Alastair and Anna Bramley, who also carried out some of the fit out works themselves.
Main contractors for the scheme were Richmond, working together with local subcontractors, who all won praise for their good work.
Alastair Bramley said: “The White Horse had previously been a Trust House Forte hotel and a Novotel, and the local Planning Department wanted the building brought back to its original character – for example all of the windows on the upper floor were aluminium framed, so we had to replace these with wooden framed windows.
“We have liberally injected style, sophistication and good food into this landmark, period hotel but not at the expense of its original heritage.”
The restaurant to the rear of the building is not a listed element, but the front section including the bar area is listed, and there were certain elements such as old wooden beams and pillars which had to be retained.
The interior was completely stripped out and totally reconfigured, including the installation of new partitioning.
Alastair Bramley continued: “The original layout was more suited to a hotel – for example there was a very small bar area and a large lounge, from when the building had been used mostly as a wedding venue, whereas we wanted an interior more suited to a pub restaurant with seven bedrooms upstairs. Now the internal space has a whole new character and exudes a warm, rich ‘heritage’ feel.”
Situated to the left of the entrance is the new bar area, occupying a space which was previously a hotel lounge. The space now incorporates a log burner and a bespoke long oak bar with a black and gold marble inlay top.
Anna Bramley said: “We wanted the bar itself to be in keeping with the feel of the original inn, and also to be a ‘grand statement’, so it has been designed with a heavy wooden frontage and is very large and high, giving it a ‘heritage’ feel.”
The backlit bar incorporates a huge array of wines and spirits, and a gantry display of various types of glasses is suspended above the bar.
Seating is in a mixture of buffalo leather upholstered booths, leather upholstered bar stools, leather sofas and upholstered chairs in an eclectic mix of patterned fabrics. Fixtures and fittings are in dark wood with brass elements and reeded glass, complemented by wooden parquet style flooring and metal shaded lights, wall lights in reeded glass with a brass finish and track lighting. All of the original timbers have been retained. The overall colour palette is in a warm, rich combination of yellows, grey/green, red, golds and browns again, in keeping with the ‘heritage’ look.
Moving further in, there is a breakfast lounge with sofas and a coffee area and a small library area complete with seating to the rear.
Alastair Bramley said: “The other main space is the 80 cover restaurant, which incorporates a new glass atrium roof to the front section, creating an ‘orangerie’ effect. We wanted to separate the two halves of the dining space, so whilst the front half incorporates the atrium, the other half has a fairly low ceiling, giving a more intimate feel particularly suited for evening dining.”
Right in the centre of the dining area is a pair of wrought iron gates set between two pillars, which serves to further delineate the two spaces.
Anna Bramley said: “We wanted people to walk into a completely contrasting area from the bar and based the design on a ‘tropical colonial look’ enhanced by cascades of plants, together with large yuccas and ferns and a colour scheme of mallard and teal green, with tropical printed wallpaper and fabrics featuring slashes of pink and yellow. This is combined with lots of wicker and cane seating to create a look based on the type of venue which expats might visit such as a Marrakech or South African colonial country club. Further design features include seating booths with pendant lighting and blue artichoke style lamps. Large bi-fold doors open onto an outside terrace at the rear of the restaurant.”
Leading off the dining room through double doors is a private dining space known as the Wallace Room, which can also be used for conferences.
Anna Bramley said: “The room is named after Alfred Russel Wallace, a British naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist, and biologist. We based the design for this area on the theme of collector’s items brought back from abroad by a world traveller. In addition to a variety of such artefacts, the look is complemented by wooden wall panelling and geometric feather-patterned wallpaper, a fireplace, a large, heavy oak table with a beautiful gold coloured fern style chandelier suspended over it, and wooden flooring to give a real ‘explorer’s drawing room’ look.”
Other works included the installation of a new all-stainless steel kitchen.
Upstairs there are seven en suite bedrooms – all of which have been comprehensively refurbished and designed on a ‘heritage’ theme, with each room being different and having an individual colour palette. Four of the bedrooms are within the front part of the building and incorporate some original retained wooden features.
External works included the stripping of old air conditioning units, wiring and pipework from the building frontage, which was then completely re-decorated. Other external works included the creation of a new car park and the complete remodelling of the patio area outside the restaurant.
The venue opened in August 2017.
Speaking of the main challenges of the project, Alastair Bramley said: “When we were stripping out the interiors, we didn’t really know what was behind the wallpaper and we discovered that much of the core fabric of the building – including many beams – were rotten and had to be replaced – which entailed much more work than originally expected.
“Yet despite all this, the entire project was completed within 13 weeks.”
Anna Bramley said: “The contractors did a really good job and we are very pleased with the final result.”
Richmond Group are a turnkey design and manufacturing company, specialising in the design and fit out of a broad spectrum of interior projects, encompassing hospitality, retail and heritage schemes, through to commercial and church projects. Richmond Group’s in-house specialist joinery facility allows for the construction of the highest quality manufactured items for almost any concept and the company prides itself on making each clients’ vision a reality.
Richmond Group has been in operation for more than 30 years and has built a long-standing reputation for innovative solutions, quality craftsmanship and the ability to deliver on time. Past projects include The Fitzwilliam Hotel Group, Clandeboye Lodge Hotel County Down, Boux Avenue at Victoria Square Belfast, Waterford Courthouse for the Office of Public Works in Dublin, Tedfords Kitchen Belfast, Treacey’s Restaurant Port Laoise and some of the leading church groups in London and the home counties.
Most recently, Richmond Group has been involved in The White Horse Hertfordshire. Working on this project, Richmond Group’s Head of Interior Design, Cormac Artt prepared the concept design and manufacturing drawings and sourced and presented the finishing solutions.
Richmond Group Head of Interior Design, Cormac Artt, commented:
“Our clients, Alastair and Anna Bramley, had a very specific vision which required me to outsource fabrics, ceramics and specialist metal finishes. They did not want to lose sight of the heritage aspect of this listed building but at the same time, there was the desire for a unique and welcoming experience for patrons.”
Working closely with Alastair and Anna, Cormac relayed their design concepts to the project manager and together they worked closely with the manufacturers to ensure the concept was realised to the highest standards. Naturally, communication in a project of this scale was fundamental in its execution, therefore, the design department was the hub for communication with all professionals, sub-contractors and trades keeping the Bramley’s informed at all stages throughout the process.
Commenting on the importance of the project, Cormac said:
“The Whitehorse project was very important to us as it showcases several services and professional skills we can provide. As the building is listed, our extensive heritage experience, gained over this past 20 years in listed cinemas and churches, allowed us to be sympathetic to the building’s history. Equally, our passion for good design and craftsmanship afforded our client the assurance that their vision would be delivered. Finally, being able to extend our portfolio of completed projects within Great Britain speaks volumes about our capabilities as a design and manufacturing company.”
“At Richmond Group, we pride ourselves in relationships and quality – it’s as simple as that. We build friendships with our clients that endure and they ask us back to look at other projects for them, further down the line.
“For us, attention to detail is everything and our extremely skilled design department, project management team and craftsmen take projects right through to the end, effectively taking ownership and pride in the end result. We firmly believe you are only as good as your last job and this is something we subscribe to with every job!”
Woodmoore Floors & Walls Spec Ltd
Woodmoore Floors & Walls Spec Ltd are a commercial floor & wall finish contractor based in Nazeing, Essex who specialise in the supply & installation of LVT vinyls, non-slip & safety vinyl, rubber & linoleum floors, PVC wall cladding, carpets, carpet tiles, timber flooring & resins.
Woodmoore has been in operation for over 11 years and have worked on numerous prestigious projects, with the Tottenham Hotspur Training Ground/Academy in Enfield being one of them. More recently Woodmoore have been working within the AELTC (Wimbledon Tennis Club) grounds completing projects within the Champions Trophy Room, Ticket Office & Broadcast Centre, two significant projects at Wentworth Golf Club and ongoing works within the new THFC Stadium.
Steven Milne, Woodmoore Floors & Walls Spec Ltd, said:
“We became involved in The White Horse project after previously working with the owners on their other properties. We were asked to assist with the specification of the floor finishes and we put forward the Moduleo LVT finishes that were used throughout the bar & restaurant areas within the hotel. We also installed all of the carpet and vinyl finishes within the bedrooms on the 1st floor.”
Woodmoore were very pleased to be awarded the flooring contract for The White Horse as the Moduleo Moods flooring within the bar & restaurant is a relatively new product in the commercial market and a great opportunity for the company to be associated with such a high end finish.
“The Woodmoore team work hard to deliver an excellent finish on every project and we are always looking to break into new commercial markets, with leisure & hospitality being one of those.”