Monthly Archives: November 2013

First evening of the winter series was a success

Last night was the first of our Winter Series of Evening Talks, on the topic of “The Past, Present and Future of Court Lodge”. It was a great success! The tickets had all sold out, and everyone seemed to enjoy the talk and also the wine, canapés and socialising afterwards. We had some fantastic help from various people. Thank you to Vika Gallacher who ran the bar for us, and what a slick operation it was too! Thanks also to Katie Whittingham and Julia Cruse who were on the door, and Julia also chaired at the end as there were a few questions. The Chicks that Chop did fabulous canapés (we’ll be using them again!), and Ruby was a charming waitress (although she kept eating the canapés) and the delicious wine was supplied by Laytons (thanks Neill!) And thank you to everyone who came along and made it such a success.

In the presentation I talked a little bit about Ian and I and our backgrounds – the people we were before we came here – and how we came to make the decision to come back from New Zealand and take over the running of Court Lodge. I then did a potted history of Court Lodge from the 12th Century until the Morland family bought it. I talked a bit more about how Court Lodge passed down through the Morland family, linking the names with portraits that hang in the house, and telling a few titbits of family gossip along the way (although there will be a lot more of that in next week’s talk). Then I focused on Court Lodge in the 20th Century, when it underwent major changes, like being divided up into flats, as a result of the social, political and economic context. Many country houses didn’t survive the challenges of the 20th Century, but Court Lodge did. Now, though, it faces a different set of challenges, and needs to adapt to survive them. I then talked about some of our plans for Court Lodge: opening the gardens to the public, opening a cafe, having furnished holiday lets, and becoming a wedding and conference venue.

Now that we’ve got underway, I’m looking forward to the next one!

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Busy busy busy!

Court Lodge has been a hive of activity over the last few weeks… couple of months… well, the entire year really, but I’ll focus on the last few weeks in this post. We have had all sorts of professionals through the house: architects, surveyors, structural engineers, heating engineers, electricians and plumbers. Our aim in all this is to get a clear picture of precisely what needs to be done to keep this old building well maintained. We also need to know what needs to be done to make it available as a function venue for weddings and conferences, and a cafe for garden visitors.

The main things we want to do are:

1. Reinstate the doorway that is now the middle window in the library. The library is the room that we plan to license for civil weddings – it has a beautiful old organ in it, so would be perfect for weddings. The middle window in the library used to be the main front door before the Victorian extension was added in the mid-nineteenth century. We want to reopen that door, and also reinstate the portico that used to exist around it. This will mean that you can go out on to the beautiful terrace and knot garden straight from the library.

2. Make the conservatory ready to be our cafe for garden visitors once the garden opens up to the public.

3. Convert the upstairs two bedrooms that used to be mine and my sister’s when we were growing up, back into one big ensuite room. This can then be a bridal suite for brides to get ready in before coming down the staircase into the library for their wedding.

We have appointed some architects to do a full measured survey of the entire building, and they will also prepare drawings for the changes that need to be made, and help us apply for listed building consent for these changes.

We have also had some heating engineers look into the possibility of replacing the old oil fired boiler with a biomass pellet boiler. They are currently preparing a full heat loss survey to get a detailed idea of how much heat the building needs, and how much it loses.

We have also had a surveyor here to prepare a full conditions survey of the building that will give us an idea of precisely what maintenance and repair work needs to be done. This can then be put into a rolling 5 or 10 year schedule so that we can stay on top of the maintenance work. This surveyor was actually here today and was very encouraging about the state of the building. There is obviously work that needs to be done, but it has not reached a critical point, so it can be managed. He said that Ian had done excellent work on the roof over the summer, which has managed to stop things getting any worse over the winter.

Funnily enough, it turns out that he had done the original drawings for the conversion of the Coach House and Courtyard Cottage back in the early 80s!

We also had a structural engineer here today who was looking at the state of the joists under the library floor – again pretty good, considering! This is lucky as we have the first of our Winter Series of Evening Talks tomorrow night!!

They also took a close look at the walls surrounding the walled garden, which actually do need quite a bit of work.

We’ve had our electrician here this week too, installing a brand new security entry system. It opens with a PIN number or with magnetic key fobs, and there are entry phones installed in each of the flats.

So it has been all go, but it feels like we are really making good progress.


The Nursery is (almost) completely ready!

Over the last couple of weeks Ian and I have been putting the finishing touches to the Nursery, which is our new holiday flat. We already have a booking for December, so we have a deadline to work to. We have cleaned away all the builders’ dust, put up curtains, put books on the bookshelves, hung pictures, bought the duvets and pillows, and made up the beds with the new linen. The appliances were delivered, but haven’t been installed yet. We have one final trip to Ikea to make, just to get all the things that are still on the list, like cutlery, kitchen utensils, a washing basket, a chopping board, a wardrobe and a couple of bedside tables. So we really are nearly there!

mxn51y--tw656dsc_0027.jpg mxn51y--tw656dsc_0016.jpg mxn51y--tw656dsc_0051.jpg mxn51y--tw656dsc_0061.jpg mxn51y--tw656dsc_0075.jpg mxn51y--tw656dsc_0109.jpg mxn51z--tw656dsc_0130.jpg mxn51z--tw656dsc_0154.jpg mxn51y--tw656dsc_0119.jpgHowever, I thought it was good enough for some ‘after’ photos to contrast with the ‘before’ photos that I put up a little while ago, so here they are. Enjoy!