Internal Architectural Audit

Survey date: 27 Jan. 2008 , 1 Aug. 2008 , 20 Aug. 2008

The front door is a heavy, six-panelled wooden door, in which the middle two panels are glazed in a frosted glass . The upper pair of panels are square, containing a quatrefoil each. The lower pair are rectangular with an elongated quatrefoil in each. To the left of the door is an empty recess for a former bell pull.

Steps up lead inside to a small outer hall, which is panelled with a dark wood. On the right is a door leading to an office, which used to be a water closet.

On the left is a doorway through to the reception hall, which is also panelled in wood . This room was originally one of the four main ground floor rooms. However, it became a reception area when the front entrance was moved to the north side. It would seem that it was opened up during Alfred Tennyson's time, by the removal of the south wall and its substitution by two large, supporting arches. This required the fireplace and chimney breast to be shifted to the north out of alignment with the chimney in the adjoining room [plan]. Scar marks can be seen in the ceiling, adjoining the junction of the arch and the chimney breast wall, where the original chimney breast was cut away . A small reception desk has been fitted into the south-west corner of the room. The fireplace contains a typical late 18th/early 19th century cast iron hob grate.

On the east side, a door leads through to the hotel bar. This room was originally the drawing room, but became the dining room, when the drawing room extension was added on the east side of the house. This contains a Gothic fireplace in its original position . It consists of an depressed arch opening with marble Gothic pillars on either side, each pillar made up of three narrow, bunched columns, reminiscent of the pillars of the front porch. The entablature of each has a raised diamond shape in gold. Above this is a large gold, ornamented mirror.

In the northwest corner, a seating alcove has been created - this used to be a passage through to the reception area room . In the south wall of this room, a small window with ornate Gothic tracery, very much in the Strawberry Hill Gothic style, has been inserted . The motifs used bear a significant resemblance to certain decorative features at Walpole’s Strawberry Hill, namely the ornamentation in the Library, the Gallery and on the screen in the Holbein Chamber. The window is rectangular and consists of a main ogee arch, containing within itself two semi-circular Roman arches. The head of the ogee arch has a quatrefoil suspended in tracery. The space above the ogee arch is filled with a series of tall, thin trefoil-headed arches. The extrados has a series of curling leaf motifs along its full length. The style and dimensions of this window corresponds closely to that of fanlights, a feature that developed in Georgian architecture during the 18th century. This raises the conjecture that this is a former fanlight that surmounted the original front door and was moved to its present position when the front door moved to the north side. The cornice, which encircles the whole room, is a repeating white arch pattern, in each of which are two alternating plant motifs in gold, simulating a highly stylised anthemion pattern, with a rosette in the spandrel. Above this, on the ceiling itself, there is a guilloche moulding, consisting of a recurring twist pattern containing a rosette . This classical style of decoration is a typical motif of many of the eighteenth century pattern books, although the design has been given an added twist in the form of the Gothic arch . Within the guilloche moulding, there is a narrow moulding of a series of small lozenges.

Like the other rooms of the main house, the windows of this room have shutters, which are no longer used but give the appearance of moulded panelling . The shutters themselves are arranged in pairs either side of the window opening. The top shutter is longer than the bottom one. The lower one contains a square panel with a raised moulded quatrefoil in a diamond and above this a rectangular panel with a pair of conjoined, elongated quatrefoils. The upper shutter is similar but the elongated quatrefoils are more stretched and there is an extra square panel at the top of the shutter. Running underneath the full width of the window is a wooden frieze, consisting of two rectangular panels, each consisting of a quatrefoil flanked by two diamonds, all in raised moulding . Many of the shutters in the house still retain their catches, albeit painted over. Around the window opening, there is an architrave of the same pattern to that around the doors . It consists of four-bead reed moulding with a diagonal ribbon band at intervals for the jambs and the head, while in the centre and at each corner of the head there is a rosette in a square-framed quatrefoil.

The bar itself is in the south east corner of this room, with an opening in the east wall into the drawing room and an opening in the south wall into the hallway. Both openings have a split-level, stable-door arrangement.

The hallway runs through the centre of the former house, from what was the original front door to the staircase. Now that this front entrance has been removed, the hall ends in an interior wall, behind which is the main fireplace of the drawing room. The hall has a cornice with Gothic moulding, made of repeating pointed arches springing from the capital of a column, in imitation of the cornices and arcades found in English Medieval cathedrals.

From the east end of the hallway, the ante-room is reached; this is now a further sitting area. This room has a deep, moulded skirting with a disused 1940s/1950s three round-pin electrical socket near the fireplace. The cornice that borders the ceiling is similar to that of the bar-room, but is not as ornate, lacking the arch and anthemion pattern entirely. The pattern here consists of a simple guilloche, consisting of a recurring twist pattern containing a rosette, within a border of moulded beading . On the inner edge of this, there is a similar moulding of recurring small lozenge shape. The walls are framed with an eight inch plain border delineated by a small strip of straight moulding with quarter round corners. Within this border strip, the walls are covered with reproduction Georgian wallpaper.

A doorway on the east side leads into the drawing room. This large room faces east with views through a large canted bay window. There are three large tall window lights in the front and one in each of the canted sides, all of which are topped by a small light. Each large bottom window frame contains eight regular rectangular panes of glass (two by four). The upper single frame is a small rectangle but with glazing bars in the form of a double pointed arch. Each of the lower lights in the canted sides can be opened as a door, although, at present, painted shut. Around the room, there is an enriched cornice, consisting of a repeated motif of a rose flower, surrounded by curving foliage . This is bordered on the inside by a thin bead and lozenge moulding. On the wall side, it is bordered by a tongue and dart band with a bead and reel moulding below that. A large, ornate ceiling rose dominates the centre of the ceiling . This is composed of an inner circle of smaller acanthus leaves round the centre, and this in turn is circled by large, scrolling acanthus leaves. The whole of this is ringed by a repeated series of sunflower petals, giving the whole ceiling rose the impression of a large stylised sun. A deep skirting board consists of a series of right-angled steps, topped with a strip of ogee moulding . At the north end of the room there is a covered-in fireplace, which connects to a chimney in the false gable on the roof. On the west side of the room, opposite the bay window is a fireplace with a carved wooden surround. The arched opening is a four-centred arch with spandrels above containing a series of a repeated motif, representing the tall, thin arched window of a Gothic church. Above these, there is a strip of repeating quatrefoils. Flanking this central portion are two columns, again with tall Gothic church window motifs as decoration. These continue, at either side, above the mantle-piece to terminate in low castellated towers . This fire surround is reminiscent of the west entrance facade of Winchester cathedral, while the castellated turrets remind one of similar structures at the university colleges at Oxford and Cambridge. To the right of the fireplace, there remains an electric push button for summoning servants.

From the ante-room, another room , used as a further sitting area, is entered. This room has been variously described as the “breakfast room”, the “school room” and the “boys' study”. It has been entirely panelled throughout using a yellowy orange wood, reportedly brought back from Australia by Hallam Tennyson . The ceiling has been lowered using plasterboard ceiling sections, with wood battens covering the joins. This room has French windows opening out onto the lawn. The doorway through to the conservatory was originally a corner window like the bricked-up window near the entrance. The window was removed when a doorway was inserted to provide access to the conservatory, thereby leaving the top arched part and the right hand-side of the original window intact, but this has been in-filled with brick . A load-bearing wooden lintel has also been inserted above the door . The soffits and jambs of this doorway have wooden panelling in imitation of window shutters .

At the west end of the original conservatory (which ended at its western end just beyond the west wall of the ballroom), there was a heating stove connected to a chimney that was situated at the west end of the hipped roof of the conservatory. This chimney ran up the side of the south service wing. This stove (Arnott stove) was installed in 1856, as Emily Tennyson notes, “ The Arnoll (sic) brick stove in the Greenhouse lighted for the first time. It answers very well.” [Emily Tennyson’s Journal, 1856 December 15].

From the conservatory, steps lead up to the ball room through a large four-centred arch. The ballroom is a large open room with moulded dado rail, deep skirting board and large ornate moulded cornices . Chandeliers hang from ceiling roses. In the west wall, the position of a former fireplace can be located where a large radiator now stands, which is directly below the corresponding fireplace above in the New Study. There is a possibility that there was a blind arch where the hatch has been put through from the bar to the bar room behind.

The two former service wings have been altered a great deal over the years and, in some cases, this has taken the form of ad hoc additions or removals, leading to a somewhat confused layout. The courtyard area, which used to exist between the two wings, has been encroached upon in the last half of the twentieth century to provide office and hotel service areas, such that only a small area of flagstone paving remains . A cross passage (erected between 1898 and 1907) divides the courtyard in two. Over half the resulting eastern portion has been roofed over to provide office space. The whole of the west part has been roofed over to provide a service area. The south wall of this area has been moved northwards from the original line, to provide space behind it for a large walk-in fridge. This wall is in stretcher bond with more modern bricks, but the original window has been re-installed . On the north side of this passage, the wall is the original wall in Flemish bond but the original window has been removed and in-filled with brick in stretcher bond. The position of this latter is revealed by the extant segmental arch of this former casement window, emerging from a modern felt flat roof . An original long casement window can be seen above on the first floor . At the eastern end of the courtyard, on the first floor, both the original long casement windows are extant opposite each other. There was a similar long window on the ground floor of the north wing, but this has been reduced to a smaller rectangular, modern casement window and the rest of the opening has been in-filled . It would seem then that originally these long casement windows were inserted in pairs, one above the other.

The small remaining open courtyard area is still paved with flagstones and contains two drain inspection sumps. One of the iron drain covers has the words "W. White, Builder, Freshwater." [builder at Avenue Road, Freshwater, 1906 - c.1935] It would seem that originally there was a large archway opening into the courtyard from the east end. This archway provided access into the courtyard from the cross passage between the north and south domestic wings and adjoined the west end of the main house. This archway is now lost in among a new passageway and office space behind the reception desk, all formed by plasterboard partitions, glass roofing and large window frame sections . The whole of this area, which has been appropriated from the courtyard, and the adjoining service wings, are problematical and complicated: ' recent' plasterboard partitions are relatively easy to discern, but there are a number of thin plastered or boarded masonry walls, which are difficult to interpret, as their construction and material is presently hidden.

It would seem that at the west end of each service wing, there was a small rectangular room: that on the north side is now a staff room, while that on the south side is a wide corridor providing access to the kitchen.

The first floor of the cross passage contains a lobby area, providing access to the first floors of both domestic wings as well as the New Study. Access to it from the main house is via a doorway from the half landing between the ground and first floor, which is on a lower level: this difference [14 inches] in floor level meant two steps were required. Taken in conjunction with the in-filled flat arch window on its south side and the stone stringcourse in the bathroom of the south west bedroom on its north side, this change in level suggests that the first floor of both domestic wings, and consequently the first floor of the cross passage, were a later addition to the original house. The second storey of this cross passage was later still, as its brickwork is in stretcher bond, while that of the first storey is in Flemish bond. This seems consistent with the addition of the second storey on the north wing by Hallam Tennyson, and no doubt provided access to this second storey from the main house.

It is clear that the manager's office is an original room with a fireplace, the chimney stack of which extends up to the roof and is still extant as a blocked -up, truncated base . In this same office, there was a cupboard on the south side of the chimney breast, now boarded closed. On the north side there was a doorway through to the next room - this too is now boarded closed. The room that was on the west side of the manager’s office has now been partitioned off, and is partly a store cupboard, opening into the office area; partly a linen cupboard; and partly a lobby cross-passage area, giving access to the ballroom. In the office area, on the exterior north wall of the manager's office, the segmental arch of the old casement can be seen above the blocked up window opening, which now has book shelves covering it .

In the north wing, an old fireplace has been boarded up in the entrance lobby to the Gents toilets, betraying its presence by air vents let into the wall . In between the Gents and Ladies toilets is a storeroom for cleaning materials. The diagonal scar mark of a former staircase can clearly be discerned on the west wall, revealing the site of the original servants’ stairs.

The raised landing and stairs, immediately leading from the ballroom down into the cross passage, is a 'recent' timber addition by the hotel. The masonry walls underneath this are partly plastered and show signs of a former pale green paint covering here . There is also an arched opening, that has been in-filled with brick, in a small wall that extends out at ninety degrees from where the main wall of the south service wing forms the north wall of the ballroom. This is now concealed under the staircase up to the first floor and the modern small flight of steps up to the ballroom and was presumably blocked up when the 1871 New Study/ballroom was built. It measures seventeen inches wide and twenty eight inches high to the head of the arch.

The western end of the south service wing can be identified in a section of lower wall in the kitchen. The wall itself originally formed the south west corner of the south domestic wing; now it is a dividing wall within the kitchen area between a walk-in fridge and a food preparation area. The wall is made from brick in Flemish bond and only the base of it is visible underneath a batten and boarded wall. Within the large walk-in fridge area (and set into what was once the former west wall of he south service wing), the outline of a former fireplace can be discerned underneath its more recent layer of insulation board covering this once large fireplace was connected to the westernmost chimney on the south wing roof.

The main staircase is in the form of return or 'U' stair ["French Flights" or "Winding-Stairs" in 18th century parlance] with intermediate landings between each storey of the house. The first intermediate landing allows access to the first floor of both the south and north wing. The second intermediate landing gives access to the second floor of the north wing only. There aretwo balusters per step; these are mainly square-topped, plain and of square section with a chamfer on each edge , causing them in fact to have an octagonal section. However the style is not uniform – there are slight variations in the size of the chamfering of the balusters. Some of the balusters are clearly more modern replacements. At random intervals a baluster with a barleycorn twist occurs. The hand rail is in mahogany and is a fitted as a continuous over-the-post system. The staircase begins with a right-hand curtail starting step and a right hand volute. On the inside of the stair well, the stair is fitted with an open-sided stringer with projecting treads and each step has a moulded tread bracket . On wall side, the skirting of the hallway is carried on up to the first floor as the wall stringer of the stairs.

The first intermediate landing gives access via two steps and a doorway to a lobby area, which in turn provides access to the north and south wing and Tennyson's new study. When the latter was built, a passage way was put through, which led to the building of a flat roof over. A wide archway gave access to this passage, but it has subsequently been encroached upon by an en-suite bathroom connecting with south west bedroom on the first floor of the main house. This infilling has narrowed the passageway through to the New Study. It terminates in a short flight of stairs up to the floor level of the New Study. From this lobby, a doorway also leads off into the north wing, providing access to hotel bedrooms. The south wing is entered through a door in the lobby adjacent to the large archway.

The New Study is a large room on the south side of the house . The floor is covered with oak floorboards 4 to 4 ½ inches wide, and the plastered walls are finished off at the bottom with a deep moulded skirting board.

In the west wall, there is a fireplace with ornate wooden surround. A wide, built-up moulded mantle-piece is supported by five main corbels containing human and lion faces in relief above a moulded leaf. In between are lesser corbels with pendants in the form of acorns. These corbels overlay a fluted frieze, with leaf motifs butting up against either side of the main corbels. This whole upper part simulates the entablature of a Classical order. Either side of the fire opening are two moulded pilasters to represent the columns, containing a stylised rosette alternating with a rectangular bead-like shape. These side pieces terminate at their base in a mock pedestal. The iron fireplace itself is ringed by a band of tiles. Each tile consists of one and a half quatrefoils. Each quatrefoil has a light blue background with a green ivy leaf in each lobe. In the gaps between each quatrefoil is a yellow three-leaved plant motif. The cast iron fireplace has two tall, thin decorated side panels, while along the top are seven quatrefoils containing a rosette motif except for the centre one, which holds a shield with Tennyson’s embossed initials, ALT. Either side of the fireplace, there is a circular, pierced cast iron ventilation grille, which can be turned with a knob in the centre to turn an inner sleeve that closes the holes.

On the north side of the room, there is a large square opening, containing two tall square-headed windows, each with glazing bars in the shape of a pair of plain Gothic arches. Originally, the room had a moulded cornice but this is no longer extant.

On the south side, there is a large square-sided bay window, the whole framed at the top with a horizontal strip of the same reeded architrave as the downstairs doorways. The window arrangement is made up of a series of five pairs of lights: a rectangular lower window surmounted by a smaller one, half its size. The bottom light comprises four rectangular panes. The top light contains glazing bars in the form of two plain Gothic arches. There are opening casement windows at the side of the bay and the central front one. The whole bay window arrangement is fitted with early secondary timber double glazing: the bottom window has a corresponding double-paned frame, while the top window only has a single pane of glass in a frame.

To the east slightly of the bay window, spanning the room, south to north, there is a wide depressed pointed arch. At the east end of the room, there is a large Gothic arch window opening, containing six main lights arranged in pairs . The bottom rectangular light comprises two rectangular panes of glass; the upper light is in a Gothic pointed arched frame, containing a rectangular pane surmounted with a pane in the shape of a pointed arch. The spandrel at the head of the opening is filled with two large trefoil-shaped glazed openings, topped by a third smaller one. The six lights are all fitted with the same timber secondary double glazing as the bay window. Again, the architrave moulding for this window is the same reeded moulding with diagonal sash as the bay window.

The main door way from the house into the study is square-headed, but contains a six panelled door with plain moulded panels set in an Gothic arched frame with two empty spandrels above [a wider version of Type C door]. The architrave of the door case is fitted with the reeded moulding with diagonal sash in keeping with the rest of the room's openings.

In the south east corner of the room a doorway provides access to octagonal turret tower, which contains a spiral staircase. The door way and door matches the main door. Around the foot of the walls, there is a heating system in an open timber frame, consisting of two cast iron hot water pipes [3 inch diameter] bracketed to the wall and floor and ending in a u-bend section at either end of the pipe run. Certain lengths of pipe have stencilled in white upon them the following words and numbers: "43906/BROWN & TAW [faded]." and "WEST HORNDON". Unfortunately the last part of the company's name has faded, but it can be identified as "Brown & Tawse". It would seem that these were installed by the hotel company as part of a central heating system, pipes and radiators of which can still be found around the hotel. (The company set up its West Horndon works in the 1940.)

It is clear that the floors above the cross-passage were added later, the top storey (second floor) only being added when Hallam Tennyson built the second floor on top of the north wing. The first floor lobby area was most likely constructed when Alfred Tennyson had the New Study built in 1871 to provide access to the New Study from the main house. A wide passageway lead from the lobby area south the full width of the south wing. The passage then turned ninety degrees right and continued west, up a short flight of steps to reach the door of the New Study. At a later date, most probably when the hotel took over, a portion of the wide passage-way was enclosed to be used as an en-suite bathroom for the south west bedroom. Before the first and second floors were built over this cross-passage, there is evidence that there was a landing window on one or both of the upper floors. The top of the moulded panels, that line the access way between the half landing of the main house and the first floor lobby area, have been cut off at the top by a false ceiling, apparently inserted when the access way was formed with a small window on top. On 2 October 1858, Emily Tennyson wrote, "... we still see the Comet from the upper staircase windoe & from his Dressing-room window." [Emily Tennyson’s Journal, , 2 October 1858] It would seem that this staircase window was a tall, thin window. Plans of similar-sized Georgian houses often show a window lighting the half landings of the staircase [see: Georgian Architecture]

13.32 The linen room on the first floor, directly above the manager's office, is mainly panelled, partly in diagonally placed matchboard and the rest in conventional vertical matchboard. The north wall however is covered in lathe and plaster. On the south side of the chimney breast, there is a store cupboard (now no longer used), while a doorway on the north side provides access to the rest of the first floor. The other rooms in this south service wing contain no other significant features other than window fasteners [see: Window Fasterners], as they are all staff rooms created by the hotel using plasterboard partitions.

The first floor landing provides access to four main en-suite bedrooms. The two west rooms have split level bathrooms, situated on the same floor level as the north and south service wings. The southeast room has a bathroom annexe built out on piers on the southeast side of the house , while a bathroom has been fitted out for the northeast room in a space on the landing between these two east rooms. Original panelled shutters exist in this bathroom, but they are not as ornate as the ground floor ones, lacking the Gothic mouldings. The panels here are plain and empty.

The second intermediate landing gives access to a small lobby area, which leads to the second storey of the north wing only, this being the extra wing added by Hallam Tennyson in the 1890s. It is in stretcher bond and was clearly built later than the two floors below. Above this lobby, and covering the whole of its roof area, is a large cement rendered water tank, installed by the hotel in the 1940s.

The second storey of the main house provides entry to four attic bedrooms. The timber rafters and cross beams are visible in these rooms.

The cellars are reached by a door under the main staircase. Stone steps lead down to a perpendicular cross passage, paved with large flagstones . The partition walls are in red brick and covered with a lime plaster. Along the edge of the main cross passage, there is a semi-circular drainage channel, made up of stone gutter sections . This leads to a drain, at the intersection with the entrance passage. The gutter and drain has been in-filled with concrete, level with the floor . The north room is also paved with flagstones and shows notch scar marks in the stone, where the brick piers, which held the shelving, used to exist. In the east room, the shelving is still extant. It consists of brick piers supporting thin stone slabs as shelves. Originally these were tied into the brickwork but now a wooden frame has been added to provide additional support. In the south room, there are a series of shelves still extant. These are made from brick piers with a self formed from one large square flagstone. Immediately on entering the room, on the right, there is a small brick chamber with a brick floor. Next to this there is an arched recess set into the body of the foundation wall which contains shelving. In the south wall, there are two further recesses with brick piers and stone shelves. One of these connects with a small window opening set into a small basement. On the east side of this room, the former cellar window opening of the earliest house is still extant behind a sheet of hardboard . This was an opening let into the wall, dressed in stone, the sill of which has a chamfered edge . This opening housed a window, which allowed light into the cellar. This represents the southern cellar window as seen in William Cooke’s 1808 engraving. When the drawing room was built on the east side of the house, this effectively covered this very cellar window. However, to allow it to continue in its function of lighting the cellar, a sixty inch opening was left in the base of the south wall of the new drawing room; this opening has now been covered with pieces of slate on the outside. It was connected to the former cellar window by a curving passage wall that is still extant today, although full of building rubbish (lathes, plaster, bricks, timber, etc.). There is a possibility that this opening and passageway represents the “secret passage” mentioned by Edith Nicholl Ellison. This passageway is exactly the same design and construction as the present cellar entrance on the north side, except there are no stone steps down to it. The present cellar entrance was originally the other main cellar window on the north side of the original front entrance.


Ceilings were originally of lathe and plaster, of which sections survive in certain places . The extent to which this survives is uncertain but plasterboard ceilings have been inserted in rooms such as the conservatory lounge and the new study. Most ceilings are plain, lacking any ornament, although the drawing room and ballroom ceilings do have a decorated border and a ceiling rose.


Walls in the main house are plastered and covered in a variety of wallpapers. Original horse-hair lime plaster covering is still extant in the cellars and in the store cupboard in the north wing. In the domestic wings, some of the walls are covered in lathe and plaster. In certain rooms of the main house, panelling has been used as a wall covering, while in the servants quarters, some sections of wall were covered in plain matchboard (South domestic wing and servants staircase in boxed in behind North west bedroom).


On the ground floor of the main house, there seems to be three types of door of note, all Gothic in style, which, for the purposes of this report, have been arbitrarily termed Type A, B and C.

Type A

Type A seems to represent the original door of the house. It is a six panelled wooden door with a four centred arch head, set in a square doorcase frame. The four rectangular panels contain a plain conjoined double elongated quatrefoil motif in thin raised moulding. The top two panels, above the frieze rail, are set in a gothic pointed arch shape and contain three quatrefoil motifs in a triangular formation, the bottom two overlapping the top one. The spandrel head panel is filled with a single small quatrefoil motif. The spandrels are filled with a series of six trefoil-headed arches. The architrave is decorated with four bead reeding, and a diagonal straight ribbon band at regular intervals . In the head jamb of the lintel, there is a rosette in the centre and top left and right corners. This door can be found at the entrance to the ante-room and the bar. An altered version of this door can be found as a stable door between the hall and the bar room, giving access to the bar serving area itself. It seems to have been formed from cutting an original door down and only using the mouldings from one half of it. The doorcase is the same but where the door way has been narrowed the central rosette on the head jamb has been left out. This door is what remains of the original complete one that formerly gave access to the drawing room at this point, before alterations.

Type B

Type B door is a later door type but is in the same style as Type A. It is only found in the drawing room. The entrance into the drawing room is where an original front window used to exist. The doorway therefore passes through the full body of the front wall of the house and is consequently formed into a wide four-centred archway. The jambs and intrados of this arch have been covered in panels using the same elongated quatrefoil motif as the door panels. The door is a double six-panelled door, both sides together in the form of a Gothic pointed arch. Each half contains a smaller rectangular lower panel, a larger rectangular middle panel and a small upper panel All contain plain conjoined double elongated quatrefoil motifs of varying heights. At the head of the door is a small empty spandrel. The doors are hinged on the drawing room side. The door-case architrave is the same as the Type A door but has seven trefoil-headed arches in a series in the spandrels. Below the central rosette in the head jamb is a metal letter F. There is a doorway from the bar room to the drawing room with the function of a serving hatch . The door is another Type B door but has a stable door arrangement, the bottom pair of doors being kept closed. The doors themselves have the same panel arrangement as the main doors to the drawing room. However, the spandrels of the door-case frame only contain six trefoil-headed arches, but each of these arches is wider than the ones in the Type A door. The architrave is fitted with a plain moulding and lacks the reeding and rosettes of the other door-case frames.

Type C

Type C door occurs in the passage between the ante-room and the lounge room and in the New Study [this is a narrower version]. It is exactly the same construction as door Type A, but in does not contain any decorative mouldings inside the panels. The door-case frame is also the same as Type A door frames. Because this doorway has been pierced through a wide masonry wall, the jambs and intrados of the arched doorway have been panelled like the drawing room door arch.

The doors to the bedrooms in the main house are typical Georgian six-panelled doors with two short above four longer rectangular moulded panels, the bottom two of which are slightly larger. Door fittings are modern brass effect. The attic bedroom doors are four-panelled doors with quadrant moulding around the inside edge of the panels.


On the ground floor, in the hall and reception area, extending as far as the first-floor, there is a skirting board topped with a reeded ovolo moulding. Along the front wall of the hall where the original entrance used to be, there is modern torus moulding. On the first-floor landing, the skirting board is given a 45° chamfered edge. From the first-floor up to the second floor there is plain ogee moulding and this continues into the second-floor landing, where it stops some way along the north wall. This same ogee moulding has been used for the skirting boards in the main bedrooms on the first floor too. From there, modern torus moulding continues round the rest of the second floor landing. The bar room still has its reeded ogee moulding on two of the walls , but a more recent plain ogee moulding has been used on the fireplace wall. The skirting boards in the the drawing room, the ball room and the ante room. are all built-up skirting, as befits the higher status of these rooms. For specifications, [see: skirting board specifications] .


The bedroom and attic rooms are all furnished with fireplaces; those in the attic rooms, as expected, are smaller and lacking in the ornamentation of those of the first-floor bedrooms.

The floors of the first-floor bedrooms are covered with narrow oak floorboards of 4 ½ to 5 inch width, although in some areas (e.g. in the north east bedroom near the window) the floorboards vary between 4 and 4 ¼ inches wide.

South west bedroom:

ornamented fireplace, window opening with moulded architrave, passageway between this room and south east bedroom (now a large cupboard, opening into south west bedroom), en-suite bathroom on the south side (partly encroached on by a passage to the new study), skirting board topped with an ogee moulding.

South east bedroom:

ornamented fireplace, window opening with moulded architrave, en-suite bathroom on north side (bathroom annexe on brick piers on south east corner of house), skirting board topped with an ogee moulding.

North east bedroom:

ornamented fireplace; window opening with plain moulded architrave; skirting board topped with an ogee moulding; en-suite bathroom with shutters with plain moulded panels (one over one) - this was originally either a dressing room or a bath room; pelmet with Gothic design - pelmet has elongated diamond shape alternating with a quatrefoil in raised beading as decoration. The small bay window on the east side still has its shutters in situ. These are made from a dark wood and are made in three sections. The right hand side is a single unit while the left hand part is a double shutter hinged in the middle vertically. Both sides fold away into recesses either side. The single shutter is fitted with a brass catch (in very good condition) while the left hand pair of shutters has a long iron bar that fits into the catch, for securing the shutter closed.

North west bedroom:

ornamented fireplace, skirting board topped with an ogee moulding, passageway between this room and north east bedroom is now a cupboard with access from north west bedroom, a plain four panelled door, with the door to north east bedroom locked, small rectangular window, door opening in west wall giving access to en-suite bathroom.

En-suite bathroom:

a ledged door on south side (now locked) providing access to passageway from landing to first-floor of north wing. Adjoining this, and also on the south side, there is a small square window at the top of the wall with frosted glass. Opening off this room, through a small hatch in the south wall, there is an enclosed, concealed area, in which there remains an old wooden staircase that has been cut off at the floor level. This seems to have been closed in using matchboard panelling with a small door on the west side for access under the stairs. Each step had three triangular wedges as brackets to each step - possibly this led to a doorway in the north west bedroom, as the wall sounds hollow in the area next to the present bathroom door. Alternatively, it may have led up to the second storey of the north wing. Inside this cavity, the old stone stringcourse of the original house can be identified on the brick wall, which separates the bedroom from this en-suite bathroom, by a remaining stone stringcourse block. It has been cut away at an angle to allow the later staircase to be fitted. This stringcourse stone reveals the drip mould recess on its underside and accounts for a boxed in section adjoining this cavity area, which was built to cover the remaining string course. This indicates that this dividing wall, which is considerably thicker than other internal walls, was once an external wall on the west side of the house. At ground floor level, the remaining position of this staircase emerges into the office area .

South east attic:

shallow square skirting board, small ornamented fireplace, roof beam with carving.

South west attic:

shallow square skirting board, small ornamented fireplace, west facing casement window, locked connecting door to southeast attic in small lobby now used as a closet, roof beam with carving attached.

North east attic:

roof beam with carvings, ornamented fireplace, shallow square skirting board.

North west attic:

roof beam with carvings attachedPicture A & Picture B, ornamented fireplace, shallow square skirting board.

Window Fastners

The earliest window catches are reeded ball sash fasteners and these occur in the reception room, the south east and north east bedrooms. A variation on the reeded ball version, flat-topped reeded ball window fasteners, are extant in the bar room and the ante room. Other windows in the house are mainly fitted with Brighton pattern sash window fasteners, although there is also one example of a round ball sash fastener (in a rusty state) in the south east bedroom. The attic rooms are fitted with casement windows, which are fitted with two patterns of window fastener: a pig tail or a lion’s tail fastener . The windows are fitted with either a pig tail or a claw casement stays. Two windows in the south service wing have fasteners of note: the easternmost of the small staff rooms has a reeded ball type, while the westernmost staff room has a spirally fluted oval fastener.

Door Knobs/Handles

Most doors are fitted with late 20th century handles, as a result of former modernisation by the hotel company. However, in the south east bedroom, two early door knobs still exist, both on the doors of closets. A patterned brass door knob remains on the passageway door, which has been locked so as to provide a closet for the south west bedroom. Another cupboard, formed from the recess next to the chimney breast, has a brass beehive knob. The keyhole on this same door has a reeded brass 'beehive' cover.

Glazing and Glazing Bars

The windows of the main house are all fitted with glazing bars of narrow ‘lamb's tongue' (or arrow-head) moulding , a thinner sort of glazing bar that developed during the 18th century. These glazing bars are ¾ inch wide and 1 inch deep.

Some of the glass displays the irregularities of hand blown 'crown glass', which is characterised by the 'reams and seeds' created during its manufacture. The ‘reams’ are slight ripples in the fabric of the glass, which produce a wavy, distorted effect when the eye moves in relation to the window pane. ‘Seeds’ are air bubbles caught in the glass, when molten. Examples of these early elements can be seen in some of the rooms in the main house. In the north east bedroom, at least nine panes of glass possess reams and narrow, oval ‘seeds’. The south east bathroom annexe has five panes of a similar nature. Two widths of glass are evident: thicker panes of glass measure 2 -3 millimetres in thickness, while the thinner ones measure only 1 millimetre.

Difference in Floor Levels

The ground floor of the main house is mostly on the same level, the only exception being the lounge room which is 8 inches lower than the other four main rooms. Next to the reception desk, there is a lobby/passageway which provides access to the lounge room, cellars and the back office area. This is also 8 inches lower than the reception area, and thus on the same level as the lounge room. From this small lobby area, there is a doorway, through which two steps lead down to the office area. The top step is 7 inches high, while the lower step is 24 inches wide and 5 1/2 inches high. There is an old moulding around the doorway, which, on the office side, has been partially covered by a modern partition wall. This would seem to be an original doorway.

The lobby area inside the front door is 6 inches lower than the reception room, while the ground floor of the north domestic wing is a further 16 inches lower than the lobby area itself. Looking at the measurements for both domestic wings, it can be seen that these service wings were about twenty two inches lower than the main house.

The ballroom is thirty four inches higher than the ground level in the adjacent conservatory on the east and lobby area on the north. This has meant the floor of the main kitchen on the west has also been constructed at that level requiring a ramp to provide access from the surrounding ground level, which is about two feet lower.

The half landing between the ground and first floor is 14 inches lower than the lobby of the first floor of the domestic wing [see: Difference in floor levels]

Both the north west and south west bedrooms have split-level en-suite bathrooms. The bathroom of the north west bedroom is forty two inches lower and reached by a short flight of seven steps. However the bathroom of the south west bedroom is only thirty inches lower, being raised about ten inches above the floor level.


Around the base of the exterior brick walls of the house, there is a three inch thick cement render that rises about two feet from the ground to form a ‘pseudo-plinth’. On the main house this render covers the stone foundation walls that have been carried slightly above ground level. However, on the drawing room and the north wing, it covers the base brick courses and only serves a cosmetic purpose. The cement used in this render is very hard and is a pale honey brown in colour. The render itself consists of a thick main base coat with a thin three millimetre top coat. The aggregate seems to be beach grit that has been crushed further: some of the grit is sharply angular, consistent with crushing, while there is still smooth, wave-eroded grains apparent . Small flecks of ground shell are also included in the mix. The sand aggregate is consistent with the beach sand found at Freshwater Bay: it ranges from large coarse, angular and rounded grains of flint and quartz to small particles of sand, and in addition, there are also small fine particles of shell. The cement would seem to be roman cement.


At the base of the second storey elevation, where it sits upon the iron joist, there is a cast iron gutter with lion head joints , which leads from the oriel window westwards to where the original second storey ended, in line with the end of the veranda. At this west end, the gutter connects with a down-pipe that empties onto the lead roof of the veranda. This section of guttering only runs along the western half of the second storey and takes rain water from the oriel roof. Lead rainwater hopper heads can be found at various points round the roof. These have been hand-forged and hand-cut from sheet lead. They have been made from three separate sections: a back-plate, a main body and a top lip. They are circular in section with strengthening moulding at the top and bottom and are surmounted with an extended moulded lip, thereby giving the effect of the cornice and entablature of a column. The hotel painted them white, but former paint colours can be seen as under-layers. Evidence of former gutter systems can be seen on the west side of the south west wing, where a horizontal black horizon can be seen on the brickwork at the top of the wall, corresponding to a row of wooden plugs, let into the brickwork, which formerly held brackets for guttering.


Underneath the iron joist of the second storey, but above the old wall plate of the north wing, two airbricks have been let into the brick wall fabric, one above the other . Each airbrick is a brown glazed unit, with nine air slits with rounded ends. The name of the makers has been incised into the wet clay: SHARP JONES & CO BOURNE VALLEY POTTERY POOLE.

Structural Join Lines: possible evidence of former alignments.

The early structural history of the north and south domestic wings may be more complicated than initial interpretations may lead one to think. A number of clear joint lines and returns are plainly visible in both wings approximately half way along the main elevations. The north front of the north wing is composed of two elevations on two different alignments: the eastern part of this front wall runs west until, about half way along, a short return in the wall southwards means that the west part of the front elevation is set back five inches from the alignment of the east elevation. This change in alignment represents a joint line between an earlier wing and a later extension and signals the possible west end of the original north wing and would explain the change [see Alignment of Walls on North Side plan]. This join line is clearly obvious above on the first storey facade, where the corner of a former wall can still be seen as a short five inch return between the east and west sections of the front facade. The two different sections have not been tied in at all, leaving a visible and open join line. This former end wall lines up with a chimney breast on the ground and first floor. Indeed, it is no coincidence that one of the transverse supporting iron joists of Hallam Tennyson's second storey has been placed above this join line. Also, on the south side of the north wing, an obvious broken join line can be seen in the brickwork of the first storey . Also within the roof space of the cross-passage, the lower part of this brick wall shows an area in line with the join line, where the regularity of the Flemish bond has been disturbed and the brick bond is very irregular. This is in line with the join line and wall returns on the north side and the iron joist. On the north front of the south wing, a similar, corresponding broken join line can be ascertained .

Paint Scheme

Old photographs and postcards all show that a dark colour scheme was used for all woodwork in window and door frames, ranging from a medium brown to a vary dark colour, that comes out a dark grey in black and white photographs. A dark purple brown can be seen as a base layer in several places, such as on the lead hoppers for the gutters. There is also evidence for a very dark green.

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