At SKK we are firm believers that craftsmanship, like charity, begins at home, and as an architectural and design practice we wanted our offices to be a show case of what we can do for our clients. An important aspect of our work is the conversion or repurposing of existing premises, especially those of architectural merit or with period features worth preserving.
So, when the opportunity came to acquire Hatfield Heath Mill we were presented with our dream project. The Mill has been at the heart of local village life and history since it was built – as a brewery – in the mid 1800s, when it malted barley and brewed ale and served such local inns as The Stag and The Thatchers on the Heath, the Duke’s Head at Broad Oak and the Crown and Queen’s Head at Sheering, amongst many others.
The first repurposing of the Mill came about towards the end of the 19th century when the rise of the big breweries swallowed up the smaller ones or run them out of business, as was the case with Hatfield Heath Brewery, as it was then known.
The Mill was sold by Sworders of Bishop’s Stortford to the Edwards family and converted to a steam corn mill, which it was to remain, under various owners, until the 1960s. An extract from the 1883 sales catalogue gives the social flavour of the times. The property was advertised as ‘a substantial brick-built brewery … together with commodious genteel freehold residence most desirably built in close proximity thereto, and five cottages with large gardens for workers placed at a convenient distance therefrom’.
The Mill was sold for the princely sum of £860, a snip compared to the price paid for it by SKK in 2012, when it was placed on the market for offers in excess of £350,000. And that was just for the shell of the building, which had been gutted after several iterations including use as a warehouse, a manufacturing unit for a lighting company and an educational publishing company.
Since its last occupier left in the 1990s, the building had stood empty and was allowed to deteriorate, so the offer from SKK to acquire and renovate the Mill was warmly received by Hatfield Parish Council, especially as we undertook to preserve the historic merits of the building as listed by Essex County Council’s Archaeological Department.
Brick faced and timber clad on the upper storey, the exterior of the Mill is substantially unaltered, including the distinctive overhanging lucan for the winding hoist, and the hoist itself, originally used for lifting sacks of grain to the upper storey.
The interior has been renovated from the ground up, with the central staircase repositioned to the corner of the building to better accommodate open planned architectural stations, offices and meeting rooms, reception, refreshment and toilet areas.
The objective has been to incorporate a modern design within the original structure whilst retaining such period features as oak beams, posts and roof trusses. We invite you to judge the success of the project for yourself by visiting us and taking the ‘grand tour’. And if you’re in the market for a renovation project yourself, you can trust us to bring a sympathetic eye to it.
Have a look at our case study by clicking here