Benham Park by Albion Nord
According to Country Life magazine, Benham Park, an exquisite neo-Classical house in Berkshire was, a call centre, complete with plasterboard ceiling and fluorescent lighting until the interior design firm of Albion Nord worked their magic for Bluedoor Advisors.
“Albion Nord was appointed to project manage, interior design, procure the FF&E and dress the house. The interior design is purposefully paired back in response to the ornate classical architectural features, and designed for modern, comfortable country living.”Via Albion Nord
Benham Park is 30,000 square-foot Grade II listed Georgian mansion set within 130 acres of parkland, just west of Newbury. The estate designed by Henry Holland was built by the Craven family in 1776 and has extensive landscapes by Capability Brown.
There’s an extensive history of the house on The County Seat. “Nestled in a lush parkland, Benham Park is significant as a formative experience, in different ways, for both Holland and Soane; a house where the two would each contribute in different ways, each gaining experience which would serve them well in the future. The noted architectural historian Dorothy Stroud declared Holland ‘a designer of perception and originality’. Her tireless research underpins much of what is known about Holland and his work.”
“The house was built between 1774-75, the final result a sympathetic marriage between an elegant yet imposing house and the Arcadian pleasures of a sculpted landscape. Despite these fine attributes, Benham has been rather overlooked in the histories of both Capability Brown and Henry Holland with the latter clearly learning important lessons from one who designed with practicality in mind, but not to the exclusion of an element of drama. However, Holland was not without his own influence as Stroud notes that from the time he joined Brown’s office, the interior design evolved from a more robust Palladian character to the more restrained yet elegant style which was Henry Holland’s hallmark. Claremont, Cadland, and Benham all display this style, indicating that although the shell of the house was more the work of Brown, the interiors were to Holland’s designs.”
“Benham survived largely unaltered into the twentieth-century until 1914 when the pediment was removed from the portico and replaced by a balustrade. This was echoed at the roof level where the pitch was lowered and obscured by a pierced stone balustrade. The servants quarters were removed at the same time due to their poor condition. The house and estate remained with the Sutton baronets until 1982 when it as bought and converted into offices in 1983, with additional office blocks built next to the house. These were thankfully demolished as part of the latest restoration of the house and estate.”Via The County Seat
“Benham Park was an easy commission for Capability Brown to secure, though it was likely that he was primarily thinking of his new partner when doing so. The probability that Brown would be commissioned was high as he was already working for the owner of the estate, William Craven, 6th Baron Craven (b. 1738 – d.1791), on another country house for him, Coombe Abbey, Warwickshire. Apparently under pressure from his wife, Elizabeth Berkeley, Lord Craven wrote to Brown saying ‘Lady Craven wishes to make some alterations here and to begin immediately’. Holland and Brown submitted their designs for a house in September 1773 using a similar pattern to Brown’s previous work with a neoclassical, two-story main house with grand central portico.”Via The County Seat
An aerial view of the property shows landscape basically unchanged since Capability Brown designed it in 1776.
The floorplans as they looked when it was offered for sale.
“Two of Albion Nord’s founders, Ottalie Stride and Anthony Kooperman, worked with architects Atelier Gooch to reorganize the layout of the 30,000 square foot house, which included the reinstatement of a division between the library and the dining room that had been removed in the Edwardian era.”
Working on grand architectural rooms, it’s easy to fall into the trap of pastiche,’ says Miss Stride, ‘but we wanted the room to be a more liveable everyday space. Using natural materials such as linen curtains and sisal flooring helps to achieve that.’Via Country Life
“The lofty ceilings and four full-height windows flood the space with light and allowed the pair to be bold with colour choices, such as painting walls in a deep olive green called Hornblende by Paint & Paper Library. A wall of dark-oak bookshelves was designed by Albion Nord and made by R. W. Armstrong.”Via Country Life
“The rust velvet sofa was also an in-house design, which combines Chippendale-inspired scroll arms with a contemporary-style single seat cushion. A pair of chandeliers in an oak-leaf design by Richard Taylor is another bespoke design.”Via Country Life
It’s a bit unclear if Benham Park has returned to a private residence or is still being considered for a commercial use. Either way, it’s nice to see it brought back to it’s former glory.