So said Oscar Wilde, apparently not quite his last words, when dying in Paris in 1900. Well the wallpaper at The Grange in Ramsgate could well provoke the same reaction in some.
But having spent a weekend in company with Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin’s own wallpaper in four different colour ways, it kind of grew on me. I think I could live with it. By the way “En Avant” means “Forward”. This was Pugin’s own motto which if you think about it is rather odd as his work harked back to medieval times. So not exactly forward.
The Grange was designed by Pugin in the Victorian Gothic style and is a Grade I listed building. Pugin bought the land for the site at West Cliff in 1841. The house was built between 1843 and 1844 by the builder George Myers. Pugin’s second wife died in 1844 and it was only after his third marriage to Jane Knill in 1848 that it became a family home. But the interior of the house was only finally completed in 1850.
The design is very different to what had gone before as form followed function and so the shape of the house is dictated by what rooms needed to be where. It was clearly up to date as it had indoor toilets with water provided from a tank in the tower. The style was influential on subsequent English architecture designed by architects like Edwin Lutyens.
Here is the sitting room. The pictures are copies of Pugin and one of his wives.
And here is the Library
The Hall has wonderful floor tiles with the Pugin bird (a martlet I believe), which is also on the chair backs in the hall
And the bedrooms are very comfy with three of them having lovely views. Here’s what I woke up to:
Pugin died in the house in 1852 at the age of only 40. He is buried in the impressive Pugin chantry chapel in St Augustine’s Church, next to the house, which was also designed by him and completed by his eldest son, Edward Pugin, who was also an architect. But the house does actually have its own little chapel too and here are a couple of pictures of that.
The house was rescued by the Landmark Trust in 1997 and it has been restored to how it would have been in the late 1840s, but with modern plumbing! It is now available for temporary lets of a few days. The public can see some of the property on Wednesdays and the whole house is open a couple of days a year. But the best way is to splash out and rent it. It really is a comfortable house. Lots of space but very homely and not at all overwhelming. Find seven friends and book it now!
More info from the Landmark Trust