6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Somerset Life today click here

Through the keyhole of an ancient Grade II listed home in Shepton Mallet

PUBLISHED: 14:34 21 December 2017 | UPDATED: 14:34 21 December 2017

All the  brown exterior woodwork has been repainted in Dulux Weathershield White apart from the front door  which is now in a Farrow & Ball Downpipe.  In spring wisteria cascades around the  porch.

All the brown exterior woodwork has been repainted in Dulux Weathershield White apart from the front door which is now in a Farrow & Ball Downpipe. In spring wisteria cascades around the porch.

Archant

Richard Cooke and his partner Michael Taylor knew they wanted to buy their home as soon as they saw the front garden bursting with life and colour, they tell Victoria Jenkins

When Richard Cooke and his partner Michael Taylor first viewed their home they went into the ancient Grade II Listed house, looked round – “and that was it, we bought it,” says Richard.

The couple were escaping from London after many years there and the lovely old property near Shepton Mallet charmed them.

Maplestone Hall had begun as two silk weavers’ cottages dating from the mid-1600s which had then been knocked together in the 1950s. It still had a stone spiral staircase, ancient oak beams and ancient stone mullioned windows.

Sitting room: The woodburner was already here so Richard hung a plaque above it inscribed Richard Cooke, Surgeon which was a gift from an antique-dealing friend who had discovered it. Sitting room: The woodburner was already here so Richard hung a plaque above it inscribed Richard Cooke, Surgeon which was a gift from an antique-dealing friend who had discovered it.

A third section had been built on invisibly in the 1980s which consisted of a car port and an en suite bedroom above.

“However, out in the back garden were a couple of even older buildings,” says Richard. “One was a small cottage where we learned the silk weavers had dyed their silk and the other was even smaller, a sort of ‘igloo’ where they heated the water to do so.’

Dining room: The wooden table is  from  India Jane with OKA chairs.  The mirror is from Overmantels and Co. All fabrics in the house are from Textile Express including the  blinds. The sconces with battery-driven candles are left over from the days when the couple had a decorating shop in Battersea. Dining room: The wooden table is from India Jane with OKA chairs. The mirror is from Overmantels and Co. All fabrics in the house are from Textile Express including the blinds. The sconces with battery-driven candles are left over from the days when the couple had a decorating shop in Battersea.

Delighted though they were with their new home, Richard and Michael found they had to do quite a lot of work to improve it.

“For instance the wiring had to be totally renewed,” says Richard. “We also had to install new gas central heating and replumb as while the boiler was fine the pipes were too narrow to carry the hot water round the house.”

Kitchen: The couple chose colourful blinds from Rollerblinds which pull together all the colours of kitchen.  James Horsfall of the Bath Kitchen Company supplied and fitted the new handmade cabinetry and walnut worktops and suggested  a bright red Modena backsplash to go above the hob. Kitchen: The couple chose colourful blinds from Rollerblinds which pull together all the colours of kitchen. James Horsfall of the Bath Kitchen Company supplied and fitted the new handmade cabinetry and walnut worktops and suggested a bright red Modena backsplash to go above the hob.

They also had to replaster some of the walls in the hall, dining room and a bedroom so Richard seized the chance to have them done in a rough-cast way to add a period feeling.

As for the kitchen...”It looked like a DIY job with orange pine and chipboard,” says Richard. “Plus there was a false chimney breast so we gutted it all and treated ourselves to a very smart handmade kitchen from the Bath Kitchen Company.”

Sitting room: Tough and washable  Dulux Endurance Mint Macaroon paint is on the walls.  The checked sofa from Loaf has loose covers made by Plumbs which are also easily washable. The two armchairs are from Swoon. Richard and Michael have an eye for the sort of attractive accessories which make a room feel cared-for. Sitting room: Tough and washable Dulux Endurance Mint Macaroon paint is on the walls. The checked sofa from Loaf has loose covers made by Plumbs which are also easily washable. The two armchairs are from Swoon. Richard and Michael have an eye for the sort of attractive accessories which make a room feel cared-for.

The cabinetry is painted in Farrow & Ball’s Old White and the handmade worktops are of rich walnut which matches the new faux walnut flooring.

“We also laid this flooring in the dining room and a newly-refurbished shower room because it’s so well-sealed,” says Richard. “The shower room had been a dream of avocado and the bathroom was in 1950s salmon pink. They’ve both been changed now to something far more contemporary. We also had a downstairs cloakroom built too.”

Four poster room: This is above the carport and recently acquired a new staircase. The curtain fabric is from Textile Express  in blue and purple Floral Tapestry and the Hazelnut Parfait paint is Valspar premium from B&Q. Four poster room: This is above the carport and recently acquired a new staircase. The curtain fabric is from Textile Express in blue and purple Floral Tapestry and the Hazelnut Parfait paint is Valspar premium from B&Q.

The silk-dyers’ cottage had a concrete floor and was very damp but dry-lining solved that problem and now it’s become a guest suite with bedroom, bathroom and sitting room.

The last job was to improve the end carport. The couple gained planning permission to build a new entrance and staircase to the bedroom above as they have now begun a bed-and-breakfast business and needed to upgrade the accommodation.

Hall: The elephant heads of Ganesha, brought back from an Indian holiday, look more distinctive in their Ikea frames. Richard says grouping several  similar items together, especially if small,  makes for a very striking effect. Hall: The elephant heads of Ganesha, brought back from an Indian holiday, look more distinctive in their Ikea frames. Richard says grouping several similar items together, especially if small, makes for a very striking effect.

Given the age of this lovely house are there any ghosts?

“Not exactly,” says Richard. “We did find two ancient shoes though. One was of very wrinkled leather and the other a baby’s knitted bootee, both in a box hidden behind a beam in the loft.

“We believe they belong to an age-old tradition whereby a single shoe was concealed as a magical charm to protect the house from evil spirits like ghosts or witches.

“And,” he added, “ there is another thing which is rather strange. Every house has its odd creaks and groans of course but occasionally we hear a really loud hammering of our front door knocker. It takes quite a bit of effort to make the knocker bang so loudly but when we hurry to answer it...there’s nobody there!”

Discover more Somerset interiors here.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Somerset Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Somerset Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Somerset Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Homes & Gardens

Mon, 16:51

We look at the people who are flying the flag for Somerset at this year’s prestigious Chelsea Flower Show

Read more
Thursday, May 3, 2018

From flower gardens and greenhouses, to allotments and endless cider, people from all over Somerset are invited to down tools and celebrate their gardens no matter what size, shape or form on May 13 for Somerset Garden Day

Read more
Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Add colour to your garden now with the top flowers of March and this season will be all the brighter

Read more
Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Houseplants are a hot interior trend at the moment and can completely transform a room - but they have their downsides! Gardener and broadcaster Toby Buckland delivers his expert advice

Read more
Thursday, December 21, 2017

Richard Cooke and his partner Michael Taylor knew they wanted to buy their home as soon as they saw the front garden bursting with life and colour, they tell Victoria Jenkins

Read more
Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Bath may be steeped in history but the city’s gardens show that this World Heritage Site is still as fresh as a daisy

Read more

Victoria Jenkins goes through the keyhole of a Somerset house that went from ‘bland’ to brilliant

Read more
 
A+ South & South West
 
Great British Holidays advert link
 
Pure Weddings advert link
 
South West Life advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

subscription ad


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Somerset's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Property Search