The focus of the trip to England was to see the work of the new guard of classical architects in England.
And yes, our darling Ben Pentreath is one of them. And, he’s also an interior designer and shop owner (Pentreath and Hall).
We spent several hours with Ben looking at one of his most spectacular classical residences in the UK that he completed recently and another large ongoing project which I will get to a little later on.
Happily, this new breed of phenomenally talented young, classical architects is fueling a passion for the classical architecture in Great Britain.
It’s not that it ever completely left, but there were the dark ages of the post-war period where it fell out of favor. That is, except for a precious few architects that are still practicing today.
When we talk of classical architecture, we mean a clear attention to scale, proportion, the classical orders, mouldings, symmetry, balance. In short, what I feel is the most pleasing to the eye. At least, I and others think so.
I’m a woman of my word and this post is about Ben Pentreath and his contemporaries, but strictly speaking, I should’ve done this post about the likes of John Simpson and Quinlan Terry— the established predecessors to the new breed of classical architects. They are the link that has kept the movement going, thank God!
But, it’s okay. We can come back to them and others at a later time.
Our first meeting with Ben was at one of his most beautiful residential projects.
It is exquisite and you can see a couple of images here.
However, we were not allowed to take photos inside the house, and after we had taken photos outside, there was some question if even that was okay. Therefore, I need to err on the side of caution and not post anything (that I took) that would identify the home.
I hope this makes up for it. ;]
Please let me make it clear that it was no easy feat to not only get a straight image (a happy accident in this case), but a quick click without Ben even realizing that his handsome, boyish countenance was being captured for millions of blog readers. haha
The next day bright and early was an entire morning with Ben at a most interesting place, the village of Poundbury in Dorchester, Dorset.
For those of you who don’t know and count me amongst them, Poundbury is the brainchild of Prince Charles who owns the land as he is also the Duchy (Duke?) of Cornwall. Or something like that.
Quite frankly, I cannot keep up with all of the Duchies, Dukes and Duchesses, princes, princesses, etc.
No intent to offend, but it’s not high on the list.
(And who is going to decorate Prince Harry’s and Meghan Markle’s new place?)
However, if you are interested in learning more about Poundbury, there are two terrific articles I found here and here.
We arrived rather late at night and had dinner at our hotel. At the time, I didn’t realize that we were staying in a new building! I didn’t know anything about Poundbury until the next day.
This is a photo I took the following morning at the start of our walking tour of Poundbury. The hotel is named after Prince Charles’ late grandmother, The Duchess of Cornwall (Inn).
Ben is one of the principal architects today, in Poundbury which began about 30 years ago. The hotel was designed by Quinlan Terry and his son Francis who is also a renowned classical architect.
Rounding out this amazing pool of classical architectural talent is another brilliant young, classical architect, George Saumarez Smith of Adam Architecture. We will be looking at some of George’s gorgeous work very soon.
Also, please check out my instagram as I have posted some images not on the blog.
Let’s take a look around Poundbury, the planned community of classical architecture.
Yes, I know… it doesn’t look quite real, does it? It’s almost a little Truman Show-esque in that it looks like a painted backdrop, but I do believe those are real houses and real grass in the distance.
This image was taken perched high up on the construction site of a luxury apartment building which should be done in several months I believe.
This is a computer generated version of the luxury apartment building named The Royal Pavilion, Poundbury, Dorchester.
But the building is well underway.
Donning hard hats, we went up to a very large four-floor apartment. Just gorgeous with giant windows and beautiful architectural detailing.
The arch under construction
The classical cupola under construction.
After we took off our hard-hats Ben continued with his tour of other parts of the town. I thought it was very kind of him to wear a scarf which matches my orange Michael Kors handbag. It will be making a guest appearance shortly. ;]
We saw many varied entrance doors and building materials.
Much of what we saw was described to us as a “believable fake.” Here is one example as the facade is only a thin veneer.
I noticed this immediately. Yep. A mistake!!! Ben pointed it out and said that it’s coming down. The capital is way out of proportion. It looks even worse, in person. Cartoonish, actually.
Here is one of my favorite posts about classical proportions and a no-fail formula to get them,
A building from one of the older sections of Poundbury. I believe that this was designed by John Simpson, but am not positive about that.
After a time, we had built up quite an appetite.
And soon we were on the bus again for the short drive to Little Bredy, Dorset.
And here we are… The Old Parsonage where Charlie McCormick, Ben’s husband was knocking himself out making the aforementioned scrumptious lunch for us. (for more garden images, click here)
One of the most difficult aspects of the trip was taking photos. And the reason for that, was my trip-mates who of course, were looking at things and some trying to get their own images.
A few other goals needed to be accomplished.
- Avoid saying something stupid and/or embarrassing (My muzzle was not available as someone else needed to borrow it) ;]
- Be mindful of lettuce caught in my teeth
- Not lose anything
- Try not to spill like I did the other day all over the Aubusson rug!
- Get a photo of Ben and Charlie and then the three of us together. Massive challenges, for sure!
And sadly at least one of those, I definitely did not accomplish. The answer will be forthcoming.
I did manage to get some nice images of the house without a ton of people milling around. It is not a large place so this was an extra-super challenge.
Please enjoy Ben and Charlie’s super charming home!
Love the fireplace and everything on and around it!
It felt so welcoming to arrive to this textbook crackling fire.
The chair had a broken card on it, but I removed it for the photos and remembered to put the card back!
The floor covering underneath the runner is wall-to-wall seagrass. I have a feeling they did that to cover up something not-so-great. But this definitely looks wonderful!
I love this part of the house where the side entrance is.
Charlie has a Sheila Maid, but he did not have anything hanging from it while we were there.
There’s my orange Micahel Kors bag looking quite at home, I must say!
And yes, the walls are this bright, bright yellow. They looked AMAZING!
BTW, if you’re lovein’ the paint colors. I did a follow-up post where I made my attempt to “Crack The Ben Pentreath Paint Color Code.” You can check it out here.
So, did you get the photo Laurel???
Well, I went into the living room and working the dimples said as sweetly as possible: “I have this little blog and my readers will not let me come home (awwww shame) ;] unless I produce a photo of you guys with me.”
I guess they needed to get rid of me, because they hopped right to it. lol
Phew! That worked!
Surprised that my face didn’t crack open with that super goofy but happy, happy smile.
In fact, I was so happy, that I didn’t (completely) freak out when on the bus… realized that indeed I had lost something.
My cell phone charger!
While gallivanting through the garden and up the hill to get the best views, it must’ve fallen out of my bag; maybe not at Ben’s, but sometime that morning. Fortunately, the clerk at the hotel had one I could borrow for the remaining two days. Phew again!
Oh, how I hated to say good-bye to this heavenly place.
For more pics of their magnificent gardens, click here.
This is just outside Ben’s yard; don’t know if this property belongs to the house or not, but no matter. I believe I mentioned before that the house is a rental.
I know… It’s pretty freakin’ sick isn’t it?
However, it was a gentle re-entry.
And that’s because we weren’t through with Ben. Nope.
We had one more incredible stop with him to view another classical architect’s home.
It’s the most amazing English country house ever!
Please click on the link above to check it out.
PPS: and if interested, there are some amazing Columbus Day sales. Serena and Lily has put their ENTIRE LINE ON SALE @20% off and that’s going until 10/16.
And all Williams Sonoma Brands are also on sale. For more info, please click here. Lots of beautiful items, I’ve collected in my obsessively curated widgets.
Ben’s living room is Parsonage Pink, custom mixed for him by Papers and Paints
yes, that is correct. Thank you for the link.
So glad you had a wonderful time. I had read about Prince Charles’s interest in architecture and he found much contemporary architecture and town/development planning ugly and poorly conceived and executed.
Very cool to see the results and one of the architects that bring the Poundbury vision to life. And that was just one of your special access visits! Looking forward to more of your trip.
Yes, the trip was a crash course in architecture and design. Every day, we saw numerous places with many stops. If we had only had one destination, it would’ve been a lot, but it was usually at least four. Can’t wait to share the incredible place we saw after Ben’s house. It’s in the same town.
And bravo to Prince Charles for having the foresight and fortitude to pursue this passion. Of course, he was right, but it was not without a lot of controversy.
I LOVE Ben and Charlie’s home. It is beautiful. What I love most of all is that it looks so comfortable and lived-in in the best possible way. It’s clear they really enjoy their space. And those gardens are to DIE for – I don’t know how Charlie does it without spending all day every day tending the beds because they are just absolutely gorgeous.
It’s very interesting too, because Ben has been there for ten years and in my research found some interesting information about how the home has evolved over the years. A lot of it is on Ben’s blog which I’ve been reading too.
I imagine that Charlie spends a number of hours a day tending the gardens; that’s his work as he’s a florist. And, a fine chef too!
Voted! I hope you win, Laurel!!! Your post about the trip was marvelous, incredible pictures – wish I could bring one of those sheep out of the pic and into my yard, looks so sweet.
Love your blog!!
Christine from KY
Thanks so much for all Christine!
It’s heavenly, Laurel. If I could live anywhere in the world, I think it would be somewhere in the English countryside.
It is most sublime! I frequently felt like I was in the middle of a movie set in the 18th century, but just not dressed right. haha
Hi Laurel! extremely interesting posts, beautiful photos, wonderful storytelling..most of all so excited for you. let all our dreams come true like this one came.
never heard of Poundbury before but I’m sure many are influenced by the concept)) I read the articles you’ve linked to-very interesting. They strive to create new urban feel around here a lot too but I’m not sure how successful they are since the cars remain first priority..
we’ll see where it goes.
I put Ben Penthreath’s books on my evergrowing wishlist..
love love all the houses, enchanting gardens, and these rosey peach walls..and that you’re happy. And that you tell us about that. I almost feel like I went there myself.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
One thing about Poundbury which is so smart is that there’s a road going around the perimeter so that there’s very little street traffic.
Thank you for your sweet comment!
Your photos are heaven. It is the next best thing to being there myself because you infuse your blog with so much enthusiasm and information. This California girl is late to the conversation and I cannot add more to what has already been said. The next few months will be a visual delight; can’t wait for more.
Thanks so much Mary, but you’re not at all late. I haven’t even gone through all of the comments yet for your home, but I gather that there were some great ideas.
Their house looked so comfortable and lived in. Nice to see someone still uses Staffordshire dogs.
Actually, the Staffordshire dogs have had a resurgence and if anything a little trendy, just recently. Of course, that’s my perspective looking at a LOT of rooms. But they are so wonderful, aren’t they! And classic!
U suffered uncontrollably from visual light. Ur eyes were open to true beauty. If there is guile in u, u cannot appreciate beauty, love and contentment. Ur blog is wonderful and each photo is delicious and is visual light.
Interestingly, God also lives at my home. If he didn’t I would be full of guile
Keep ur smilingly face, get a roll of gaffer’s tape but frankly, verbal joy makes God smile.
How beautiful and poetic!
What a glorious trip! I so wish I could have been a little fly on your stylish handbag. The architectural detail had me drooling. But I was most surprised that Ben and Charlie’s house actually made me like the color peach again. 🙂 After having lived through the 80’s with a peach toilet, sink, and tub, I thought for sure I could never, ever like the color again for decor. But their charming house makes peach look warm and inviting. And Charlie is a total hunk, just sayin’.
Yes, I know!!! They make peach cool again. It’s a peach that has a spec of brown in it which keeps it from being cloying. And Charlie IS a total hunk and as sweet as they come!
What is that fabulous peachy paint color, Laurel? I’m so glad you had such a wonderful time. What a beautiful place!
I did mutter something about a BP paint palette, didn’t I? haha! I’m hoping to still do that. It’s a dark day today. But I will look to see what I think is close to it, soon. The are other colors that I saw a lot of. They love those soft sage-y greens too!
Ahhh, one of my NY buddies! Ben was an architect at a v v fancy firm in NY. Not quite sure how we met, but he ended up helping me redesign my apartment. Ben, if you see this, Hi!!!
What a small world! And lucky you! But yes, Ben worked for an architectural firm for FIVE years early in his career. How did we let go of him? ;] Do you follow him on instagram? I imagine that he doesn’t have a lot of time for blogs.
Hi Laurel! I loved everything about this post!! Learning about Poundbury (I was mesmerized by the concept of a walkable town with the added bonus of architectural beauty-would love to see more of this in new developments in the the states), seeing your fabulous pictures (I wouldn’t want leave either!) and meeting Ben and Charlie, what gracious hosts they were!! Adorable photo of the three of you. Always love reading your blog. Thank you for sharing!! P.S. I voted for you again. You’re by far the best interior design blogger out there. You should win hands down!!
Thank you so much Elizabeth for the kind words, votes and support! Means a lot to me.
Life handed me a barrel of lemons and I turned them into a blog. lol
P.S. I also eat a lot of them. Lemon water is so cleansing to the system. :]
There are some developments like this in the states already. Just look up “New Urbanist”.
Seaside (where the Truman Show was filmed) and other similar developments in the Florida Panhandle are examples, though they are resort towns.
Check out I’On in South Carolina. It’s like Poundbury with Low Country architecture.
There may be some over-lap but based on what I learned, there are a lot of differences.
I looked at I’On in SC and it is lovely, but it looks like a planned development which again, has some of the components, but not all.
Poundbury is an actual town with municipal buildings and hundreds of businesses, agricultural pursuits, etc. The people who live there, don’t just live there, most also work there too. I didn’t go into a whole big thing about it, because that’s not what the post is about primarily.
The other thing is that there is luxury housing as well as middle and low income housing, but from the outside, one can’t tell the difference as all of the exteriors are nicely planned and different from each other.
I don’t know enough about other communities and it’s possible that there are some that are closer to this one, but the impression I got was that this is not the case.
Oh! Laurel! I think it was William Yeoward who says he ‘always mistrusts a house without
books’, how refreshing to see some proper English clutter ( so tired of reading articles on
‘D’ cluttering’ ) & to see a home that doesn’t look as if it has been self consciously
Beautiful clutter is always permissible & who wants to tidy up memories ?
I would love, in fact, you to do a blog on this & how not to decorate
a home in a one-stop-shop, style. You are the woman to do it!
The boys look as relaxed as their home & I really think the photograph you have with
them should be your 2017 Christmas card. You could always pretend they are your sons,
sorry, I mean brothers.
This is my total style of decorating ( I speak as one with yellow walls) .
I am sure like other readers of your blog we feel we have been on your ‘trip’ with you, your
inclusive enthusiasm bounces off the pages & you are so endearingly not ‘cool’ !
The joy of spilling anything on a Persian rug is that if you rub it in with your foot, it blends
So happy that you are home safely & please visit us in England again, very soon!
Well, I would be honored to have either of them as a son or brother!
That’s a wonderful topic and one that I have hit on in dribs and drabs. Maybe something like “The Art Of Clutter (and why less is not more)”
But it also depends on the house. One, that I will be sharing soon is sparsely decorated but incredibly smashing because of the architecture. It was everyone’s favorite house! Coming soon!
Thanks so much for your wonderful comment! And I would love to come back. I didn’t want to leave! xoxo
Thats a brilliant title, laurel! Yet, you have whetted my appetite now for the sparsely
Maybe a Yin & Yan approach : why less is not more & then More is less….
This is why us interior fiends need far more than one home. We appreciate so many
decorative styles. Personally, my bette noir is clutter such a Faux French & hearts
dangling down from any unsuspecting door knob..now that is ‘clutter’ I can do without !
I agree. I think the difference might be in what the “clutter” is. Is it gum wrappers and stacked up mail? lol or is it a beautiful tray filled with mementos and interesting objet?
love that photo laurel, you are too cute! and I am soooo jealous!!!
your photos are gorgeous
when I am in poundbuty I imagine I am back in the 1700-1800’s looking at buildings before they are time worn interestingly my British friends are not drooling and carrying on like I am, they see it as a fake…..maybe I need new friends!
much more please!
Well, we were told that a lot of young families are finding Poundbury quite attractive and that the people who purchased a while back, are incurring handsome profits on their investment, should they sell.
On the other hand, it is fake; the architects make no pretense about it. But it’s artful fake. And it’s not the *hideous* devoid-of-all-personality architecture that went up in the immediate post-war period through the seventies, at least.
My over-all sense is that it’s a quiet, beautiful, peaceful place to live and that the residents take great pride in their community. And there ain’t anything wrong with that!
Oh look! First comment because it’s the middle of the night!
Their house looks very homey and the color of that kitchen should never be changed. The fields in the distance are where God lives. 😉
Look how tiny you look next to the guys, Laurel! Well, you are tiny anyway, but those two strapping men make you look like a pixie. 😉
I was aware of Poundbury. Prince Charles wrote a book about architecture back in the 1990s and got all kinds of flack for it, though I thought most of what he had to say was right on.
The house is very homey and happy. Yes, the kitchen color is glorious! There is actually very little wall space, so it serves is an accent.
Pixie! How funny! It’s all relative. In NY, I often feel like the one towering over everyone. I’m 5′-7″ and was wearing a shoe that raises me up 2 inches. Ben is probably about 6′-3″ (same as my older son) and Charlie, 6′-5″
I think that people are finally coming around to Poundbury. There is still a tremendous amount of construction going on. But the older parts look very real and established now that their trees are far more mature.
The concept is quite interesting in that everyone who lives there, is within walking distance of every part and in theory, one doesn’t have to go anywhere else to find their basic living needs.