Downside, Cobham, Surrey

“Leigh has been the model architect for us. He combines imagination, professional skill, sound practical sense, the ability to listen, great attention to detail, and a genuine flair for dealing with planners and managing builders. His designs, in a building where sensitivity to the historical context was essential, have transformed our home.”

Sir Stephen and Lady Lamport


Sir Stephen & Lady Lamport extended the cottages in 1988 to provide an additional bedroom and bathroom to the first floor and to extend the existing ground floor breakfast room but were disappointed in the final quality of the build. Another unfortunate addition was a rear dormer window that was very unsympathetic to the style and massing of the original building. One of the fundamental brief requirements for the new work was to ensure a seamless blend between any new extensions and the existing 19th Century buildings.

The existing south elevation of the house presented a rather stark facade to the road, albeit obliquely, with no windows and only the chimney breast and overgrown door canopy offering any architectural relief.

The new works created a third cottage to the rear of the existing forming an L-shaped building and containing a new Master Bedroom suite, walk-in-wardrobe, ensuite, new library study and an enlarged kitchen. The use of carefully selected bricks, distressing the new mortar, using reclaimed tiles and carefully matching the details of the existing timber windows provided the seamless connection between the new work and the existing buildings.

The introduction of the third ‘cottage’ also allowed the internal circulation to be replanned and achieved a more flowing route around the house, tying the two existing cottages together. The elevation facing the road was also addressed by the introduction of a second, balancing, chimney stack to the library and new windows to this elevation to provide much needed natural light to the first floor landings.

The existing open rear patio was removed to allow the construction of the third cottage. It was replaced with a new sunken and partially walled terrace garden between, and accessed directly from, the new library and the existing kitchen and breakfast room.

Completed in February 2006 for a construction budget of around £300,000.