Traditional Building Skills and Local Stone Help Create Homes With a Heritage

One of the challenges of designing and building homes in a conservation area is creating properties that meet modern standards and expectations while embodying the character and history of the area. Fernham Homes has risen to this challenge in style at its boutique Hillside Park development in the village of Linton, near Maidstone, by making creative use of a building material that has been used in the region since Roman times.

Launching with its first showhome on 23rd January, Hillside Park, with its boutique collection of 13 luxurious four- and five-bedroom detached homes, is partly within the conservation area of the small village of Linton, set on the Greensand Ridge with superb views over the Weald of Kent. In close proximity to historic buildings, including the 13th century St Nicholas parish church and the Grade I listed Linton Hall dating from 1370, the development needed to be something special to win the approval of planners.

Clague Architects, which created the individually designed homes for Fernham, chose to use a locally quarried traditional building material, Kentish ragstone, in the four houses nearest to the conservation area, to visually link the new homes to their historic surroundings. Ragstone, a form of hard, grey limestone, was so-named because when it was being quarried it would break open along ragged edges – creating an attractive and distinctive finish that was used in many historic buildings, including Rochester, Leeds and Dover Castles, Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London.

While modern builders tend to use ragstone pieces that has been pre-attached to convenient panels, Fernham wanted to use a more complex, traditional approach, seeking out skilled stonemasons who could visualise exactly where each ragstone should go on the wall then knap the stones to fit in the time-honoured fashion, chipping them down by hand to form exactly the right shape. Ragstone cladding created in this manner has a look which is truly unique, with no two stones the same and a completely irregular pattern showcasing the time-consuming masonry skills.

As well as the use of ragstones, the homes pick up on other vernacular architectural features of the area, including dormer windows, reduced eaves, weatherboarding and rendering. With the homes spread out over a 15-acre site, the result is a collection of spacious, high-quality properties that look completely at home in the landscape.

Paul Rosbrook, Operations Director at Fernham Homes, says:

“On such a superbly located plot, with tremendous views over the countryside, we wanted to create homes that are really special, and fit seamlessly into the village environment of Linton. The use of traditional stone masonry skills, local raw materials and classic Kentish design features has helped us to create a unique, characterful development that sets new standards for housing in the area.”

Prospective buyers will be pleased to know that the homes are as special on the inside as on the outside. Internal features include working fireplaces, bifold doors leading out on to spacious gardens, generous open-plan family living areas along with formal lounges and, in some homes, double-height galleried hallways and dedicated studies. All homes feature a utility room, en suite bathrooms and a double garage, while larger properties also include a dressing room to the master bedroom. On certain plots at the development, it is even possible for buyers to design their own interior configuration to suit their particular family needs, as well as to customise the look and style of the kitchen, bathrooms and finishes, as part of Fernham Homes’ Bespoke scheme.

The village of Linton is ideal for commuters, as nearby Marden railway station, less than four miles away, offers services to London Bridge in under an hour, making it a good choice for those wanting to escape from the city to a more peaceful way of life. There are plenty of amenities for families in and around the village, including a popular pre-school in the village hall and a good range of local primary and secondary schools. Local shops are within walking distance, while major retail opportunities can be found at Maidstone, which has two flagship shopping centres, farmers’ markets and a family entertainment complex.

“Our new sales suite will be open from 23rd January, strictly by appointment only, where visitors can explore an elegant and inspirational design scheme by interior design company Jane Clayton, created to help house hunters imagine how they could lead their best life at Linton,” adds Paul.

Properties currently available at Hillside Park start from £890,000 for a four-bedroom detached home with double garage.