Bruton Narrow House

bruton, SOMERSET
Listed: grade II
COMPLETed: summer 2016
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER:  Williamson structural design
main contractor: GDW Building & Renovations


The Somerset town of Bruton is characterised by long, narrow plots that form a dense and varied frontage to the High Street.  At the other end the plots open on to the Backways, two routes running parallel to the High Street with a less formal collection of coach houses, garages and garden walls.  The grade II listed Narrow House is 25m long but only 3.5m wide at its widest point, and consists of at least four different phases of development, from Georgian at the High Street end to early 20th Century at the rear.  The site slopes upwards by 4m from the High Street towards the Backway, so there was no view from the kitchen, dining and living rooms on the ground floor to the garden.

We were asked to look at how the ground floor rooms could be better connected to the garden and how more light could be brought into the centre of the house.  A new single-pane roof light has been installed over a small courtyard in the middle of the house to bring light into the kitchen.  At the rear, a section of the building has been demolished and rebuilt with a bedroom and shower room on the 1st floor and a new living area at ground floor.  Clad in zinc, the new piece of the building sits between two existing stone party walls.  

The whole site is treated as a cascade of terraces that rise through the house and out into the garden.  The ground levels have been reduced at the rear and a series of brick-paved steps and patios constructed to make a more gradual transition from the house to the garden.  Full-width folding-sliding doors allow the living area to open up to an enlarged patio and the brick pavers flow inside, blurring the threshold to the outside.  Rather than emphasising a distinction between old and new elements, the interior is treated as a collage of materials and textures, bespoke joinery and lighting to create an atmospheric sequence of light and flowing spaces. Suspended brass light fittings have been designed specifically for the brick vaulted dining room.  For more information on the lights please see Brass Uplighters in the Furniture & Lighting Section.