Our Projects

The Chapel, SW4

Studio / Residence
Grade II Listed
Ex Chapel

The Chapel was built for William Morris’ sister Isabella. Her brother introduced famed architect and designer Philip Webb and artist Burne-Jones drew the
stained glass windows.

It was completed in 1897 and was used as a chapel until the 1940’s, at which time all the valuable fittings were acquired by the V & A Museum as some of the finest examples of the Arts and Crafts movement.

From the 1940’s the chapel gradually fell into disrepair until it came up for sale, as Gilmore House was converted into flats. The challenge was what to do with the Grade 11 listed chapel and how to convert into living accommodation. Many people tried and their plans were rejected by the Conservation planners.

Peter Luke explains; “we wanted to introduce a gallery to maximise the accommodation, while not detracting from the wonderful feeling of volume and free space in the man body of the Chapel. It had to harmonise with the original architectural features. We achieved this by borrowing the filigree design from the original alter table and modifying it to form the major feature in the form of an aesthetic carved panel for the gallery balustrade. We also reintroduced light oak panelling to match Webb’s design in the new supporting columns and solid timber capitals and mouldings.”

The plans, which originated from Peter’s sketch, met with approval in planning and the work began to convert. Importantly, a skylight was added throwing daylight into the body of the chapel, thereby transforming the atmosphere. The ground floor forms a spacious living, dining and entertaining area, with galley kitchen. A utility room, shower and cloakroom were fitted into the old organ room. Upstairs there is a specious mezzanine bedroom, with good storage and an underpass to the en-suite bathroom.

The result has won acclaim for the sympathetic nature of the conversion and successful translation of one of Webb’s masterpieces as a unique inner city studio and living space.

Designed Features

This project incorporates a lot of different design features including:

  • Creation of planning precedents unique to the project
  • Clerestory roof lantern transformed the space 3 x 3metres sq.
  • Transformation of chapel to studio/residence
  • Preservation of Arts & Crafts architectural features
  • Restoration of Edward Burne-Jones designed windows
  • Introduction of ‘floating’ mezzanine floor
The conversion of the Chapel presented a major challenge to satisfy Grade 11 listed approval at the planning stage.

The transformative event was the decision to reintroduce Philip Webb’s original filigree used on his alter table (now in the V&A Museum) and introduce it as a feature within the mezzanine panelling.

Another major design challenge was accessing the en-suite bathroom under the arch on the first level from the mezzanine bedroom. We created a marine style underpass with steps up and down similar to a companionway for seamless access. This was constructed from steel for minimal structure and bulk.

Storage within and open plan environment is key to comfortable and convenient living and we built into the alter arch, plus every nook and cranny to provide an abundance.

Features

  • Bespoke solid oak joinery throughout
  • Egyptian limestone custom machined steps and paving
  • Under floor heating throughout
  • Gunning auxiliary hidden tube heating
  • Complex lighting plan to create numerous atmospheres
  • Hand made mezzanine stairs with steel core