Our team at Kay Pilsbury Thomas Architects have had a brilliant summer.

News here at the studio:

We are thrilled to say Architect Monica Corcoran and her husband Ali have welcomed a gorgeous baby girl, Freya, into the family, who joins her two sisters. Monica is proving to be one of those formidable modern mums and will be back with us in the New Year.

We’ve also hailed the arrival of Jean Wilson to our administration team, who, as it turns out, is a bit of a Mary Berry cake wizard, which is a big success with us at the studio on “Cake Mondays”!

We enjoyed an office trip to the Tudor house of Ingatestone Hall. We were intrigued by their two secret Catholic priest hole hiding places which were built into the chimneys. When Queen Elizabeth I came to the throne in 1558, there were several Catholic plots designed to remove her and severe measures were taken against Catholic priests. Many great houses therefore had a priest hole built so that the presence of a priest could be concealed when searches were made of the building. Our own project at Fryerning Hall has a priest hole, which is hidden behind the inglenook fireplace. There is an old doorway into the secret space, which is now the ground floor WC and will no doubt provide some intrigue for guests visiting the loo!


Project wise: we have some fun and fascinating buildings we’re designing and building, a few of which we’ll share with you:


The impressive Country House and Estate of Fordham Abbey, near Newmarket has been purchased by the Hashimoto family, where they are constructing, with Kay Pilsbury Thomas Architect’s design, the first ever Japanese Sake Brewery in the UK.


The Brewery and family’s quest to bring their Dojima Japanese Sake to the UK has had lots of media coverage, www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire

It has been granted planning permission and has now started on-site with local construction firm PB Doyle.

We are all attending a special Jichinsai Ceremony at the start of this unique project, which is a traditional Shinto ceremony to purify the building site and pray for the safety of the construction workers.

The  red brick Georgian Country House has also been granted planning permission for the public  to hire the house for private and corporate events.

The old house stands on the ancient site of a Gilbertine priory founded in C13 by Robert de Fordham. The medieval priory was destroyed by a fire c.1419.

Between 1710-30 Admiral Sir Charles Wager and then William Metcalfe, built a new large Baroque mansion on the site which is depicted in paintings on panelling still within the house.

The existing walled gardens and dovecote on the site today are thought to be the remains of this  earlier house.

The estate was sold to James Francis Noble in 1790, who surprisingly dismantled the baroque mansion house and made pots of money selling many of the original features and materials.

He then built a smaller but fine red brick Georgian villa in its place, with elegant sash windows and a balanced façade, which is the lovely house you can see today.

The Sake brewery, Visitor Centre and Café will be open to the public in Summer 2017, so watch this space! www.fordhamabbey.co.uk


Over in Cambridgeshire, we are on-site on another Georgian Palladian villa, circa 1820, with Rose Builders, building a new courtyard extension to this house, which originally belonged to the Braybrook Audley End Estate family. The new courtyard addition is in the style of a Georgian walled garden and will provide a cloister, pool, cinema, gym and Kitchen off the main house, half of which will be in a new basement and the other half above ground.


Down the road from our office, we are on-site with Heritage Building & Conservation Ltd, putting the finishing touches to a C15th oak-framed Hall House, which has been completely renovated over the year, to create an impressive family home. We have added an oak-frame family room, repaired the timber structure, re-roofed, insulated the entire building, reinstated the traditional lime plaster/ lime-wash and replaced the modern windows with more traditional casements. It now looks really beautiful. The family have moved back in and we are really  impressed by their enthusiasm and engagement with every part of the process in restoring this ancient house and bringing it back to life.


Over in Epping we are continuing on the re-revealing and rebuilding of a former C17th farmhouse with J W Younger Builders. The original steep pitched roofs and decorative chimneys of the oldest part of this farmhouse have been reinstated after removing a monster 20th Century shallow pitched roof, which covered this and some 80s wings. The house has now been more sensitively extended with wings which echo the original farmhouse vernacular and proportions all under steep pitched roofs.


Many of you will know St Mary’s Church Saffron Walden, as it soars high above the town. We are excited to report we will be starting on-site at the church in the New Year. The church has hardly been touched since the Georgian period and the project here will be the first major works since then. The design and works will sensitively bring in some highly crafted joinery items, which will provide a new Servery, WC and Welcome area facilities to church to compliment  the many events, services and concerts they have there.


We have finished a Family Room extension to an interesting 1884 George Sherrin, Arts and Crafts listed house, which boasts matching brick walls, elegant French doors, a high oak roof structure with opening rooflight and views across the new gardens which are based on original Sherrin designs. We are due to start the next phase of works towards the end of the year to construct some new outbuildings and pool.


We’ve just started construction works on-site near Cambridge on a C16th Hall House with impressive 2-storey front porch and projecting gables. This will be a full renovation and a year-long project to bring this house back to life, insulate it, repair the frame and introduce underfloor heating and construct a new Kitchen extension.


We are starting building works with R J Pinnock on a lovely thatched C17th listed lobby entrance cottage, to build a new oak-framed Kitchen and Utility extension, which will overlook the owners rather enviable cottage garden with towering hollyhocks and lillies.


Finally the repair and renovation works to a Grade I Hall House in Brentwood are carrying on with Charles Luck Builders and Historic England and Archaeology have both been overseeing the works. The building has revealed some interesting original mullioned windows sandwiched behind modern walls, an old floor drain constructed of brick and roof tiles from the Georgian Scullery and the the position of the original staircase above the Buttery and Pantry.


We have many more fascinating old buildings being repaired and altered in the design stage such as Longstowe Hall Stables, a Priory in Norfolk, lots of Barn Conversions, Walton Church WC & Servery, A Georgian House reputed to be Dicken’s Bleak House, a Hall House renovation and extension, Georgian town house extension, Arts & Crafts house roof conversion & Extension and a proliferation of Old Rectories needing some love and care…to name a few!