Brookhurst handmade clay roof tiles have been specified for a glorious new build project in the Thredling Hundred, mid Suffolk. Close to the village centre of Debenham, this outstanding and spacious home is surrounded by outbuildings, both old and new. A new two-storey car lodge offers accommodation on the first floor and sits beside an original 1914 barn, while the jewel in the crown is the converted tower mill which dates back to 1839. The two acre estate was purchased at auction, subject to planning, and provides far reaching views of the stunning Suffolk landscape, an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and birthplace of John Constable.
“There is certainly a lot of history attached to this spot and I recall we were surprised and delighted that local planners allowed us to replace the existing cottage that was on this site,” says Joe Johnson. “The property was very run down and needed considerable work to make it habitable so for us it made total sense to knock it down and start again. In fact the whole site was in need of recovery, high roadside hedges completely obscured the buildings and the mill was so deeply covered in bramble that we couldn’t even see the brick building beneath.”
Joe and Sandra Johnson designed the house themselves together with architect Tim Linstead of Anglia Design LLP, Norwich. The property incorporates the very latest technology including air source heat pump, photovoltaic solar panels and a heat recovery ventilation system, which together has resulted in a highly sustainable building. The open plan kitchen and day room is reached via a generous utility room which is adjacent to the gym. The day lounge is flanked by a contemporary garden room, with natural solid timber features, and offers far reaching rural views across the moated garden. Bricks and beams reclaimed from the original cottage have been used to create a large and welcoming inglenook fireplace which houses a log burning stove in the day lounge.
In the spacious entrance hall, which serves two formal reception rooms, a regal two way oak staircase leads to a minstrels gallery and five double bedroom suites. A large floored-out area in the roof space above provides substantial and valuable storage and can be reached via its own door and staircase off the first floor landing.
“We started the build in autumn 2014 having meticulously planned the build schedule”, continues Joe, “and we moved into the house in November ’16. Work is still ongoing to the mill which is reported to have been one of the finest examples of a tower mill in the country.” The mill was originally five stories at a height of 57ft with four sails. It was tail-winded in July 1918 and suffered significant damage. The mill was repaired using the sails from Preston Mill, near Lavenham in Suffolk, with the help of a £100 Government grant. The mill was set to work again on 21 June 1921, working until 1935. It then stood derelict until December 1962 when it was literally pulled down to a two-storey stump. The truncated mill has been extended to the rear by the Johnson’s and will provide lovely accommodation for visitors to the region.
As a successful carpenter and builder Joe Johnson is familiar with the specification of many leading materials’ and systems and presented Sahtas UK with drawings early in 2015. “It has been a delight to work with Joe and Sandra on this very ambitious build and I know how much hard work and effort has gone into the last three years,” says Iain Webster, director of Sahtas UK Limited. Working with samples of the Brookhurst natural clay roof tiles, the couple chose the Wentworth tile for the main house and the rear extension to the mill. “In fact, this was the first project to specify the Wentworth when it was first launched so we are pleased and proud that it was chosen for such a special build,” comments Iain. “The Wentworth gives the feel of a weathered, reclaimed tile with its dark red base and heavy dark weathering that looks old and established from the very first day.”
Brookhurst tiles are made from the highest quality clay material using traditional hand moulding and coal firing techniques. Whilst these glorious traditions are maintained, Brookhurst tiles meet the highest technical standards and are fully compliant with BS EN 538 and 539 test standards for strength, durability and weather protection. The artisan skills of this production method has also founded a vast inventory of bespoke designs, intricate and unique shapes, and varied components with refined colour matches essential where extensive renovation is undertaken.
Externally, the original barn has been fully restored and the clay pantiles have been replaced with well-matched reclaimed tiles. “It was important to source a good match for the new build car lodge as the two barns sit side by side,” says Joe. “Here Sahtas helped us again and colour matched the tiles in Turkey and shipped samples back to the UK. We were delighted with these and most of our visitors can’t identify the old from the new.”
Sahtas traditional pantiles are manufactured to the same high standards as the rest of the collection and available in the same colourways as the Brookhurst tile range. “We will always help clients who have a very specific requirement, or regional bias, and if we have to make something bespoke we have the capacity to do so,” comments Iain. “We are passionate about producing premium handmade clay products which exceed the expectations of both the industry and our customers. This goal is achieved through stringent in-house quality control at all levels, as well as continuous external independent testing. Bespoke or not, all Sahtas products are backed by our 100% quality guarantee.”