Poems. Volume 1

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O AKWRIGHT S

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VOL UME

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Poems



We’ve been designing and crafting oak framed houses for almost twenty-five years - a quarter of a century. Every project has a tale to tell. Every resulting oak frame tells a story and sings a song of life and of what’s possible with the right people around you, a collective vision, and determination in spades. For a long while, I’ve been contemplating a journal. A storybook of sorts that assists with the factual, need-to-know information about creating your dream home. And equally as important, it incorporates the stories and experiences of the people behind the projects - our wonderful clients, exceptional craftspeople, and those that design, make, and provide the products and services that bring our homes to life. We needed a name for our journal. The inspiration came one sunny afternoon while sipping a glass of chilled white wine on Steve and Susanne’s soon-to-be kitchen verandah, talking about the home we were building together. ‘What brought you to Oakwrights? How did you begin your oak framed journey?’ Susanne laughed and said it all started with a poem written to our Regional Architectural Designer, Pete Tonks. The rest, as they say, is history. With great thanks to Steve and Susanne, I welcome you to our very first edition of Poems by Oakwrights.

Tim Crump Founder

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The Story Behind the Name ‘Poems’ An Oak Frame Home in Rural Essex There’s a certain majesty to oak. It’s quintessentially English and a frequent muse in literature through the ages.

Self-building on a plot adjoining their current property, the Clarkes were ‘right-sizing’ from what was their family home. Their children having flown the nest, they seized the opportunity to self-build a bespoke space that worked perfectly for them.

It’s fitting, then, that Steve and Susanne Clarke began their Oakwrights oak framed journey with a poem.

It certainly doesn’t disappoint. Their oak frame perfectly blends contemporary chic and traditional countryside styles with vaulted ceilings, a glass garden room, and a stunning kitchen verandah.

After their overnight stay at our show home, The Woodhouse, the Clarkes knew they wanted to build their dream home with oak.

‘The oak. It breathes and comes to life around you. It radiates warmth and lights up when the sunlight hits it. It’s poetic, really.’ - Steve Clarke.

Steve said ‘What surprised us was how Oakwrights embodied the character of the materials they used. Oak is a testament to permanence, patience, strength, and grace. Just like the oak our home is built from, the Oakwrights experience has been exceptional. Every aspect has been a treat – from extraordinary design, leaving us in awe of what’s possible, to end-to-end project management. We’ve felt confident, supported, and reassured, safe in the knowledge that our needs, wants, and desires were taken care of.’

Inspired by the magnificence of the material and convinced that Oakwrights’ Architectural Design Team were the perfect choice to lead their project, Susanne set to work writing a poem. She outlined their hopes and dreams for their oak framed home, hoping to set their enquiry apart from the rest. She certainly did. Pete Tonks, one of our Regional Architectural Designers, was inspired by her creativity and got in touch.

Susanne added ‘The results speak for

themselves. I can’t help but feel that our oak frame is the next iteration of the oak that supports it. Our home has the same permanence as an oak tree and the same sense of majesty on the landscape for us and future generations. I feel like there’s some poetic justice in that.’

The results: The Oak House, a stunning home for the Clarkes.

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The Oak Tree by Johnny Ray Ryder Jnr

A mighty wind blew night and day It stole the oak tree’s leaves away Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark Until the oak was tired and stark But still the oak tree held its ground While other trees fell all around The weary wind gave up and spoke, “How can you still be standing Oak?” The oak tree said, “I know that you Can break each branch of mine in two Carry every leaf away Shake my limbs, and make me sway But I have roots stretched in the earth Growing stronger since my birth You’ll never touch them, for you see They are the deepest part of me Until today I wasn’t sure Of just how much I could endure But now I’ve found, with thanks to you I’m stronger than I ever knew!”

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Making a House a Home: Emotional Moments, Signature Pieces & How to Create a Space That Wows

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Philip and Judi fell in love with their plot’s potential, peering out of a derelict hayloft window at sunset. They’d been searching for a space of a sufficient size to self-build both their dream home and specialist equine facilities. For Philip, it wasn’t exactly love at first sight. ‘It was the depths of winter when we visited, and If I’m completely honest, the place was rather spooky. There was dilapidated farm machinery all over the place, and the old farmhouse was dark, surrounded by derelict outbuildings. It was in great need of repair.’ Still, something about that particular plot in rural Lancashire stuck, and they bought it in 2016. ‘There’s a river running through the property, and it’s surrounded by woodland. The little boy in me who used to play Pooh Sticks and read Swallows and Amazons must have influenced our decision to buy it. The crucial moment was when we climbed up into the hayloft in an old barn. We pried open the rickety shutter, and there was this breath-taking view of the valley beneath. I remember thinking, “That’s it. The view I want to wake up to every morning.” It’s now our master bedroom.’

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The Brief: Create a Cohesive Space that Combines Old and New Philip and Judi’s brief was always to create a space that looked like it belonged in its surroundings. A welcome addition to the local landscape, not something that stuck out on the horizon. ‘Despite its contemporary design, it was important to us to conserve and incorporate elements of the old property into the new house. Unfortunately, due to its age and state of repair, there wasn’t much to salvage. Instead, we used reclaimed stone from a local mill. We incorporated what little was left of the farmhouse stone into key features like the surround for our woodburning stove, which is made from doorjambs of the old barn. It has a real presence about it, which we love.’

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The Wow Factor It’s hard not to think ‘wow’ as you approach Philip and Judi’s modern country manor house. As you approach by car, the front and side elevation give the illusion of a traditional farmhouse built with local stone.

It’s quite a spectacle, with stable facilities, a glass garden room, luxury man cave, and a three-bay room-above garage. Not forgetting ‘Lilah’s Lake’; a pond built especially for their beloved Labrador to swim in after a promise Philip made to her many years ago.

It’s only once you’re inside that you see the contemporary face glazing across the rear. The result: a large and luxurious space with unobstructed, panoramic views of the valley below.

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Statement Pieces and Stunning Interior Features The Entrance Hall

Then there are the more subtle gestures like the horseshoe placed in a doorway and the artwork that adorns their walls.

Philip and Judi’s love of horses and their equestrian lifestyle is evident throughout the property.

Or the perfectly placed feature piece in their hallway. A striking bespoke Stephenson’s Rocking Horse wearing a Horse of the Year Supreme Champion Rosette, won by one of Judi’s Show Hacks, Pearly King, in 2012.

Firstly, there are Judi’s on-site equine facilities. Judi’s an esteemed Sports Horse breeder with numerous champion rosettes under her belt.

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The Cowshed Kitchen

Philip and Judi’s advice for anyone styling their homes is ‘to find pieces that reflect you and what you love most. Don’t rush into decorating and dressing a room. Live in it first to get the lay of the land. Most of our home began its life Wimborne White, while we got a feel for each room and how we intended to use it. It means you create a space that wows while ensuring you’re able to enjoy it in a way that suits your lifestyle.’

The old cowshed, one of the now-demolished outbuildings on the property, inspired Philip and Judi’s kitchen diner. They modelled the space on the cowshed’s proportions, and the pattern of exposed beams and joists mirror the original. ‘Our vision for the kitchen was very clear. We wanted something Shaker style, with a large island, two fitted ovens and an induction hob. We also originally planned to have an Aga as we had one in our previous property. However, we eventually decided against it because the underfloor heating would be more than sufficient to heat the house. Our change of plans left us with an Aga-shaped space between the kitchen units. One morning, we arrived to find our joiners had filled it with a realistic wooden replica. We loved it so much we decided to keep it!’

Philip and Judi certainly took their own advice. Their hallway is mesmerising, flooded with natural light through those full-length windows. Above your head hangs a masterpiece – Judi’s prized contemporary chandelier made of cracked-glazed, hand-blown glass baubles. Before you stands their modern oak staircase, with its striking glass balustrade and oak treads across the landing. Beneath your feet are reclaimed tumbled limestone tiles, warmed by underfloor heating. The epitome of warmth and contemporary comfort.

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The Gable End Master Bedroom

Judi’s Equine Facilities

Philip and Judi’s master bedroom is a restful haven of blues and greys, overlooking the view that sold them the location. Your eyes are instantly drawn to the perfectly dressed gable end windows, and the panoramic views beyond.

Philip and Judi’s previous equine premises were separate from their house, which meant that they couldn’t see their horses’ annexes all the time. It also adjoined a busy bridleway in an area frequented by holidaymakers, which wasn’t ideal for them or the horses. It became one of their motivations for self-building.

The Blue Ground (Farrow & Ball) interior walls extend the sky into the space around you, making you feel part of the natural landscape surrounding the house.

‘We wanted a unique space that we could shape ourselves. One of the things we loved about this plot was its size and its secluded nature. It was the perfect place to combine work and leisure in a way that worked for us.

Look closely, and you’ll see oak trees embellish the wallpapered feature wall (courtesy of Graham & Brown) - a subtle nod to the exposed oak beams - and a modern twist on the traditional ambience of the room.

‘We settled on an American-barn style layout, incorporating reclaimed stone and slates from the old farmhouse into the final design.

‘Our favourite element of the room has to be those magnificent gable-end curtains. They’re a real talking point for visitors and guests.

‘Now we have ample space for my horses, their stable block, two-storey tack room, and the associated machinery and storage.’

‘Our apex is over 6 metres high, so each pair of curtains is over 20 metres of material! We don’t draw them at night, because dressing them nicely again afterwards takes a lot of effort with all that fabric! Plus, waking up to that spectacular view is the best feeling in the world. Who would want to shut it away?’

‘Our glass garden room is a favourite spot to soak up some afternoon sunshine, survey the magnificent views, and see the horses grazing in the paddock below.’

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Philip’s Luxury Man Cave Set against the backdrop of the classic contemporary manor house and with a deck overlooking Lilah’s Lake sits Philip’s sunken space for evening entertaining and quiet contemplation. Concrete, walnut slatted walls, slate tiles, an extensive gin collection, and burnt orange velvet tub chairs with emerald cushions give the space a masculine, industrial edge in contrast to the rest of the house. ‘It’s my place to sit back and reflect on how we got here. We’re incredibly fortunate that this is now our solid, oak framed reality.’

Philip and Judi’s Journey with Oak ‘The first was when the oak frame arrived on-site. That was such a significant milestone. Until that point, our dream wasn’t really a reality. Seeing the frame on the back of that lorry was when it became a tangible thing, more than drawings on a page.

Looking back on their oak framed journey, Philip and Judi reflect on their experience. ‘It’s an incredibly emotional process, selfbuilding your own home. That’s why you need the best team around you to support you through the process. Someone who shares your vision, sees the potential for what’s possible and brings it to fruition.

‘The second was unveiling our chandelier the day we moved in. The Contemporary Chandelier Company installed it into the ceiling apex whilst some building work was still in progress. They wrapped it carefully in industrial plastic sheeting to protect it from dust and debris, and there it hung for several months. When we finally cut into that sheeting and released those beautiful blownglass baubles, it took me back to that hayloft moment right at the start of the process. Standing underneath, looking upwards, I thought, “We made it. We’re home.”’

‘We certainly had that experience with Oakwrights. Their Architectural Design Team got what we were looking for and immediately made it their mission to design the house we wanted, not the house they thought we needed. For that, we’ll be forever grateful. ‘We had our share of emotional moments, but two stand out as the most memorable.

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The Beauty of Building with Oak Besides its association with strength, stability, and wisdom, what makes oak the construction material of choice for those looking to build their bespoke timber framed home? Oak is a Natural Choice for the Environmentally Conscious

project managers, and homeowners alike. Designing your dream home around a beautiful oak frame gives you a significant environmental advantage.

Oak is a natural material, so it reduces the ‘whole life’ carbon cost of your self-build property.

The environmental cost of building a structure is significant and includes the resources used in manufacture, transportation, assembly, and waste disposal.

The carbon footprint of every self-build structure is a key consideration for planners,

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Our meticulous manufacturing process combines precision and speed, reducing your on-site construction time and getting your structure wind and watertight as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Materials like brick and concrete are carbon costly in the short and long term. Green oak has a lower carbon cost than other construction materials because trees capture and store carbon dioxide destined for the atmosphere during photosynthesis. When a tree is felled and turned into timber, it retains all the carbon it captured during its lifetime.

Oak has an Undeniable, Unique Charm

Our oak is sourced from well-managed, sustainable forests, and every frame is designed millimetre perfect to ensure that the right-sized trees are selected by our partners before any woodland is cut.

Oak’s instantly recognisable silver patina and textural character complement both traditional and contemporary interiors. Each frame tells its own story, every master carpenter’s mark as individual as the tree it came from.

Oak is the Obvious Choice for a Swift, Efficient Build

If you’re searching for a timeless, efficient, and renewable material that gets better with age, oak is the natural choice for your bespoke building project.

Every Oakwrights timber frame is prefabricated in our Herefordshire workshop. Our controlled conditions ensure your frame is picture perfect and uses the least possible energy and effort to assemble.

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The Oak Framed Outbuilding that Keeps on Giving Key Design Features

Nestled down a single-track country lane, a stone’s throw away from the city of Hereford is a beautiful, listed property owned by Johnathan and Louisa Turner. Its 17th century original, beautifully seasoned, oak frame is surrounded by towering chestnut trees and a winding stream adjoining the River Lugg.

Johnathan and Louisa’s starting point was building a two-bay, timber framed garage. It quickly became a multi-functional space when they decided to incorporate additional elements into their design. The footprint became three carefully considered spaces in one: a two-bay garage, a potting shed, and a woodstore.

Louisa often thought how lovely it would be to create a family space that combined their love of the Great British outdoors, particularly their passion for growing vegetables, with their family activities.

The potting shed was positioned at the back of the garage, overlooking their vegetable garden, so Louisa could comfortably prepare plants for the months ahead - whatever the weather - in an indoor-outdoor environment.

The idea of their bespoke oak framed outbuilding was born.

The other spaces evolved on either side of the garage to compliment the overhanging roof design. Their open-sided wood store adds an air of rustic charm and hides a secluded, seating area at the rear. To the right of the garage, is a secure storage area for squirrelling away garden tools and their grandchildren’s outdoor toys they’d rather not have on show.

Choosing to Build with Oak For the Turners, building with oak was the obvious choice. Firstly, because their outbuilding needed to match the traditional look and feel of their home. And, secondly, their environmentally conscious values meant that they wanted to work with a sustainable, natural material.

A Space for All the Family

‘We approached Oakwrights, to support us with obtaining planning permission,’ says Louisa. ‘Their design team brought our oak frame vision to life. We considered every aspect of our design: from plotting the anticipated footprint of the space, to digging up certain aspects of the garden to pave the way for the area. We even drove into the proposed garage to ensure the positioning was perfect.’

The Turners self-built their oak framed outbuilding within three short months. It slotted into the landscape perfectly, and looks like it’s always been there. Two years on, Louisa says that the parking bays ‘provide a safe play area for our grandchildren, so we can continue to make the most of being outside together as a family, regardless of the Great British weather!’

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Nooks, Crannies, and Secret Spaces: When you design your own outbuilding, you’re paying for every square foot. Just like the Turner’s, you’ll want to ensure that you get the most for your money, add value wherever you can, and create a cohesive, conscious, and comfortable space that carefully combines your interests, passions, and practicalities.

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The Humble History of the Potting Shed

Over time, they developed to become safe havens for gardeners everywhere. A contemplative space to prepare, plant, and potter, with room for storage, reflection, and relaxation.

Every keen gardener desires to cultivate and nurture healthy plants. To that end, potting sheds have been part of the Great British landscape for generations. They’ve become a staple in countryside estates, private gardens, and urban allotments alike.

A Space to Sow The primary purpose of a potting shed is to prepare new plants. To sow seeds, take cuttings, and cultivate seedlings while protecting them from the changeable, and often inclement, British weather, giving you a versatile, wet weather working space.

The word ‘shed’ is rooted in Anglo-Saxon, meaning ‘to cover, divide, and separate’. Yet the first documented examples of sheds and outbuilding structures date back considerably further to the Roman Empire and Ancient Greece, where they were used to protect straw and animal feed from the elements.

Plan how you intend to use your potting shed addition to your bespoke outbuilding to add maximum value.

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Are you an early morning or late afternoon gardener?

Mounted on an axis and wheelbase, Bernard Shaw was able to follow the sun throughout the course of the day, as he couldn’t bear working in shade.

Details like this will help your local Oakwrights designer in their design process. They’ll want to ensure aspects like window placement and positioning utilise natural light when you’re using the space and optimise your overall gardening experience.

‘London’ was his escape from everyday life. When visitors would arrive unannounced his staff would send them away, proclaiming ‘he’s visiting the capital.’ Bernard Shaw spent days on end in his custommade writing shed and is reported to have written many of his famous works inside his mechanised office, complete with a desk, typewriter, telephone, and bed for an afternoon nap.

A Room to Store Every gardener has a surplus of pots, books, and equipment adorning their workspace. Downed tools festoon the walls and ceiling, and surfaces heave with young plants, pet projects, and general gardening paraphernalia.

Create an Outbuilding That’s Uniquely Yours

Adequate storage is often an afterthought. One of the benefits of a bespoke outbuilding rather than something store-bought is that you design to your own specifications.

Your oak framed outbuilding doesn’t need to be a feat of engineering, like Bernard Shaw’s, to be the space you’ve always dreamed of. It can be as simple or sophisticated as you wish.

With a little thought, your final space becomes perfectly purposeful with in-built cabinetry, shelving, an island workbench, and indooroutdoor storage.

His famous words certainly ring true for conceptualising your bespoke oak framed outbuilding:

You might also consider adding a comfy nook in which to relax, reflect, and recharge, while overlooking your beloved garden.

‘Life isn’t about finding yourself. It’s about creating yourself.’ Carefully design a restorative space that consciously combines your interests, passions, and practicalities to get the most personal value out of your oak framed outbuilding.

A Place to Breathe Perhaps one of the best known (and most eccentric) bespoke outbuildings is that of celebrated playwright, George Bernard Shaw. Restored to its former glory by The National Trust, sits ‘London’, his famous revolving writing hut, nestled away at the end of his garden at Shaw’s Corner in Hertfordshire.

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Combining Old Ways and New: The Best of Both Worlds Tony Stevens, Oak Framer at Oakwrights, talks about his education, expertise, and experience of oak framing, spanning nearly two decades. ‘The work was made harder by the fact that the floors were uneven, so you had to shim the trusses to keep them level. There wasn’t any overhead lighting, so we used mobile halogen lights. You had to make sure you weren’t in the light’s shadow, or you couldn’t see what you were doing.’

Tony smiles into his cup of piping hot tea. ‘Things have certainly changed a lot, but I’ve been oak framing at Oakwrights for 19 years. We’ve done the struggle. Now’s the time to enjoy being state of the art.’ Tony began his carpentry education training as a furniture maker in Wolverhampton.

After a few months at Letton, Tony moved to Oakwrights on-site workshop, where he met Tim Bloxham, who he’d work with closely for the next four years.

‘I’ve got fond memories of my time at University. I remember loading my timber and taking it on the train to Birmingham. That was an experience. But I had to use the finger jointer in the Birmingham workshop, so needs must.’

‘Tim was a huge influence on my working life. He was a carpenter for 54 years. We worked together for four, refining my craft until I was ready to take the next step in my career, leading a team of my own.’

Entering the World of Work Upon graduation, Tony took a job as an apprentice at Oakwrights, transitioning from furniture making to oak framing.

How Cranes Changed Carpentry at Oakwrights

‘I’ve always been drawn to the problem-solving element of my work. When you’re making a piece of furniture, you’re solving a problem. The same is true of an oak frame.’

Even floors and overhead lighting were a considerable improvement, but for Tony, the key difference between Letton’s potato shed and the Oakwrights workshop was the addition of the central crane.

Tony began his working life at Oakwrights workshop of sorts, the Letton potato shed. ‘It was a baptism of fire for a new carpenter. Everything at Letton was done completely by hand. People often romanticise about the old ways, but they forget that it was extremely hard graft.’

It significantly reduced the ‘lumping and bumping’ work that took weeks at the Letton site. 8 years later, Oakwrights has individual overhead cranes for each of the 4 teams, and they’ve changed the face of their workforce demographic. 22


Tony explains:

Changing Styles of Oak Frame

‘When the cranes arrived, our workforce began to change. It was fantastic to see. With less reliance on physical strength, we welcomed more women and younger recruits to the workshops, and older carpenters approaching retirement could keep working longer. My mentor, Tim, was able to keep woodworking until he was 69, something unheard of back in the day.

When Tony began at Oakwrights, traditionalstyle oak frames were all the rage. ‘The frames resembled your traditional black and white chocolate-box cottage, where the beams you see on the outside match those on the inside. To achieve that rustic, medieval look, we used to draw-knife the beams to soften the edges, add post detailing like lambstongue chamfers, and some surfaces would be adze planed for a textural finish.’

‘Honestly, it’s the best of both worlds. The cranes take away the heavy lifting, making it possible for us to focus our expertise on the detailed, curved work, which takes more care, thought, and attention.

These days, due to extensive advances in thermal efficiency, traditional styles of oak frames are less frequent. ‘New style oak frames are extremely complex. We still use the traditional exterior, but the interior posts and beams are encapsulated in large format super insulated panels also made by the Oakwrights team. The finish is different too. No more medieval styling. Most frames have a planed finish, giving them a much cleaner aesthetic.’

‘For me, those parts of the job are the most rewarding - especially arch-collared slings. They take me back to my furniture-making roots.’

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Preparing the Next Generation of Oak Framers

‘Over the next few years, we’ll see more oak framed buildings designed for multigenerational and multi-functional use.

Today, Tony’s role at Oakwrights includes training apprentices - sharing his knowledge and experience of the old ways and combining them with the new via the Oakwrights Academy.

‘We’ll see more properties with adjoining annexes so elderly relatives can continue living independently but close by if support is needed. ‘Following “the great resignation”, more selfbuilds will include spaces for working from home, either as part of the main property or in an adjoining outbuilding.’

Tony explains the thinking behind Oakwrights’ process: ‘The best oak framers understand the whole framing operation. Time spent with design and site teams as part of the academy programme ensures they have a working knowledge of the self-build process from design concept to erected structure. This insight helps them foresee and resolve problems before they arise.’

What is it About Oak? To conclude our time together, we asked Tony what it is about oak that captured and kept his attention all these years: ‘As a building material, oak is truly unique. People just connect with it. There’s this sense of mystery about every oak framed structure. It has this beauty and majesty about it that you can’t quite achieve with any other material.

The Future of Oak Framing Covid-19 changed the way people live in and use their homes. Tony believes this will influence future oak framed builds:

‘For an immediate walk-in-and-wow moment, it’s got to be oak.’

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A Kitchen is the Heart of the Home

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To Serena, wife of Tim Crump, Oakwrights Founder, the kitchen represents the warm welcome at the heart of every home. It’s the familiar embrace of friends and family and an open invitation for coffee, cake, and great conversation. A love of food has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. And as a secondgeneration cattle farmer, it’s part of my heritage.

Our beautiful rolling countryside is rich with local, high-quality meats, fantastic fresh produce, and an abundance of fields and hedgerows to forage for elderberries, blackberries, and plums.

Growing up and living in rural Herefordshire, it’s hardly surprising.

It’s the perfect larder, with easy access to world-class ingredients.

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Fond Memories

It really made me appreciate the comfort and familiarity of my own kitchen, where everything has its place and is just so before I start.

My mother loved to cook. She was lucky enough to study French haute cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu in London. I still remember the dishes she used to serve at social gatherings when I was a child.

Cooking Environment We’re in the process of renovating our traditional farmhouse. The kitchen is next, with work beginning in early 2022.

She and my father were very social, so I’ve plenty of fond memories of friends and family at the farmhouse, laughing and talking while enjoying something hand-prepared and delicious.

It’s about time, really. It’s the same as it was when my parents moved in back in 1976. Completely unchanged since I was 11!

The memories are all the sweeter because many of them took place in what is now my own kitchen. It feels right that those treasured memories are part of its history as well as mine.

One thing I’m sure of is that I’ll be keeping my Aga. It’s the focal point of the kitchen, and I can’t imagine cooking on anything else! I’ve been thinking a lot recently about balancing the need for modernisation (it’s a working space after all) while maintaining its homely, comfortable feel. I don’t want a statement kitchen that doesn’t fit the overall feel of the farm.

My clearest memory is of my mother’s poached pears. They were served in an enormous blue and white patterned dish, which I remember very well - probably because of the stark contrast in colour.

There’s a lot to consider.

Poached in red wine, the pears were stained a glorious deep red and set in a redcurrant jus, like jewels. The final flourish was a ceremonious sprinkling of golden, toasted almonds. I can still see her doing it.

As a working farmhouse, our kitchen is a crucial aspect of our working life. It’s a very social space, in which we spend a lot of time. All visitors, whether they’re friends, family, suppliers, buyers, whoever, are invited into our kitchen for coffee, cake, and great conversation. For the most part, we never leave.

I remember how proud my mother was to prepare this dish. And how delighted everyone was to receive it. There were always clean plates all around. I completely understand her sense of pride, accomplishment and satisfaction seeing others enjoying her culinary creations.

Many a negotiation, discussion, and heart-toheart have been had around our table. And that’s what I’m trying to preserve. The hustle and bustle of family and working life.

I largely attribute my love of cooking to her influence at an early age. It’s taken me on my own culinary adventures - including a stint on Master Chef back in 2011. I did myself proud, making it all the way to the Top 20 contestants. It was an experience like no other.

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My Signature Dish In this issue, I’ve decided to share my signature dish, herb crusted rack of lamb. It’s a sentimental choice, as it’s a firm family favourite.

The recipe uses readily available ingredients, and with some imagination you can elevate the already exquisite flavours. It’s best served on a sunny day with fresh vegetables and surrounded by family and friends.

Perfect for a warming supper, or a spring time Sunday lunch, its beauty is in its simplicity.

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Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with Crushed Baby Potatoes and Leeks in Lemon Butter

S E RV E S 4 / 6

Ingredients

Method

2 x 6 bone rack of lamb, trimmed

LAMB

50g fresh white breadcrumbs

Trim excess fat.

2 garlic cloves

Mix together herbs, melted butter and breadcrumbs.

Big handful of mixed fresh herbs - mint/ rosemary/ thyme/ parsley chopped

Press on to the top of the racks of lamb (fat side).

50g melted butter Salt and pepper Small potatoes Garlic Olive oil 4 Leeks sliced Butter Lemon juice Black pepper

Place into the pre heated oven (220 C) for 25 minutes. Cover with foil to rest for 5/10 mins. Carve down with a very sharp knife being careful to hold the crumb in place. Each rack can be cut in half. P O TAT O E S

Boil or steam potatoes with skins on until just cooked. Place into a pan together with olive oil and crushed garlic once you have ‘squashed’ them with a spatula. Fry until golden brown and crispy (you could place on a baking sheet and roast in the oven instead). Sprinkle some sea salt over the top. LEEKS

Melt a large knob of butter in a saucepan. Add lemon juice and black pepper. Throw in the sliced leeks and pop the lid on. Shake the pan whilst cooking. This should only take a few minutes. Serve sprinkling some vibrant green fresh herbs across the dish. Enjoy!

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Bespoke Kitchen Design: A Designer’s Perspective After twenty years in design, Helen Needham, Head of Architecture at Oakwrights, has learnt that there’s no one secret ingredient when designing the perfect kitchen. A successful bespoke space boils down to the perfect blend of clarity, functionality, personality, and adaptability.

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Our raison d’etre is to ensure you make an elegant, functional, and future-proof space that will make you smile for years to come.

Kitchens are complex because they’ve evolved to become a multi-functional space. Twenty years ago, they were kept separate from other living rooms. Today, they’re very much at the centre of family life, incorporating both a functional and sociable space for lounging, entertaining, and most recently, working.

Clarity All projects begin with a brief, wish list, and budget.

These changes have paved the way for more responsive design.

Clients often come to us with a wealth of ideas, having prepared galleries of images, Pinterest boards, and magazine cuttings of designs and styles they love. All these elements are discussed and incorporated into the initial design melting pot.

Designers are more aware of and sensitive to the short and long term needs of growing families. We call it the ‘family side’ of design, as it considers who’s using the space and how their needs will change over time.

Our Architectural Design team inspire and support our clients to translate their vision into the overall design concept, ready for us to construct the first iteration of the master plan, and eventually turn it into reality.

It’s our job as Architects and Designers to ensure that every oak framed space we create meets the needs of all inhabitants of the home, whether they’re your toddler who needs a low-level breakfast bar, or your 90-yearold grandmother, who wants an East-facing verandah to sit and enjoy her morning coffee.

Understanding your short and long-term priorities for your oak framed space is key, because in kitchens particularly, it’s easy to get

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swept up in the latest design trends and the feast of finishes, materials, and interior styles available. While these details make a space, it’s essential to carefully consider the scale, symmetry, proportions, and zoning of areas in relation to the planned flow of the whole property.

Hints & Tips for Working with an Oak Frame

Coming to the table with a shared vision of what you want your space to be, the same priorities on your wish list, and a clear idea of budget, is the best recipe for success.

People connect with oak emotionally, and as a result, an oak framed space is all about showcasing those beautiful beams.

Oak is such a natural, tactile, distinctive material. Something truly magical happens when you bring robust, natural materials normally found outdoors, inside.

To preserve the oak frame as the focal point of the room, you’ll want to avoid things like high level cabinetry.

Knowing your priorities - whether it’s a granite worktop, pull-out larder, or stonking wine fridge - helps you keep control of your budget and ensures the space you create contains all the elements you need and want.

It’s sensible to decide early on what’s essential in the kitchen itself and what could be located elsewhere, like in an adjoining pantry, larder, or utility room.

Functionality

Decisions like whether to use standard 600mm² cabinetry, or opt for a bespoke size, will influence your Architects’ design choices, the planned flow of the property, and how to zone the different areas of the kitchen in line with its multiple uses.

‘The Golden Triangle’ is a design concept you’ll hear frequently in kitchen design. In a nutshell, a beautiful kitchen must also be usable. There should always be a delicate balance between form and function. The golden triangle relates to the usability of the space for its principal purpose: food preparation. The triangle refers to the three highest traffic areas, the fridge, the hob, and the sink. It stipulates the minimum counter spaces and distances between them for an optimal cooking environment, and a pleasant user experience.

Personality & Adaptability A bespoke oak frame is the structure that frames your space. It’s your blank canvas to introduce some personality into your home. The beauty of oak is that it’s incredibly versatile. You can complement your oak framed kitchen in a plethora of ways.

Kitchen islands are an excellent addition to your golden triangle. Never underestimate their usefulness in a busy, family kitchen!

Whether you choose a chic, ultracontemporary interior, or a timeless traditional aesthetic, the oak will do the talking.

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Final Thoughts

Oak is the perfect companion material for both the simplest and boldest of design choices.

It’s impossible to define the perfect kitchen because beauty is subjective and very much in the eye of the beholder.

One client’s showstopping raspberry-pink kitchen cabinets still look fabulous fifteen years on. And the sunken ‘Gin Palace’ addition to a traditional Lancashire farmhouse was the perfect combination of functionality – storage for their extensive gin collection – personality, and adaptability, with a cosy space for entertaining.

Designing a kitchen that’s right for you is an evolutionary process for all our clients. Your oak frame is the structure that cradles your kitchen. Making the space and flow of the underlying structure the priority brings the room to life. We often find that the oak frame has its own ideas that inform and inspire how it should be used.

Something clients often underestimate is lighting, both natural and artificial. Locations of windows, roof lights, and roof lanterns, as well as statement lighting like LED lines and recessed spotlights all shape the ambience of a kitchen. Keeping your kitchen’s multiple purposes in mind creates a cohesive, adaptable space that suits your needs now and for the foreseeable future.

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Custom Building: An Appealing Prospect for Rural Landowners The thought of property development can be daunting. Idyllic landscapes, village life, and countryside ways don’t lend themselves to large, estate-style developments, which inevitably change the whole area around them. Below, we explore the concept of custom build and why it’s an appealing possibility for rural landowners. What is a Custom Build?

Landowner Input into the Final Design

Custom build can be an attractive option for those who want to release capital from their land while preserving the local area in both its aesthetic and ambience.

Many landowners considering custom build have a connection to the land where the houses will be built. Many feel uncomfortable with a carte blanche sale to a developer as they want to do right by the land and the local surroundings.

Effectively, a landowner divides up a parcel of land into serviced plots, ready for individual builds.

Embarking on a custom build project gives you, the landowner, an element of creative control over the product. A reassuring prospect when the land has been yours for generations.

Each plot is sold with outline planning permission for an oak framed property of a specific size, magnitude, and scale, ready to be customised by the purchaser.

Balancing Purchaser Creativity and Seller Peace of Mind

The property infrastructure (utility connections, highways, mains, and sewerage access) is in place before the sale, making the site especially attractive for prospective purchasers because they can buy with surety. It minimises the risks of buying a plot they can’t build on and prevents delays due to infrastructure issues down the line.

Custom build is the perfect compromise between landowner input and homeowner creativity. You set the parameters for the project, giving custom build homeowners creative licence to create their bespoke space within limits set by you. In practice, what that looks like depends on your plot and circumstances.

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Your Trusted Guide

‘Plot conditions help set the tone for the newly formed community. These are site-specific rules like no farm animals, HGVs, or caravans parked in plain sight.

Partnership with Oakwrights ensures exceptional quality, expert insights and a smooth, efficient process.

‘Finally, legal conditions including that planning adaptations or subsequent alterations to the property require the former landowner’s consent.

James Buchanan, Head of Custom Build at Oakwrights, explains the idea behind creating a plot passport. ‘Your plot passport is a document that contains all the details about the purchase, property specifications and limitations that will guide the development, giving you peace of mind from the outset.

‘For a purchaser, a plot passport becomes a bible-of-sorts. Everything’s in place so you can focus on the enjoyable elements, like designing your dream space using the highest quality materials, knowing that the community you’re going to live in will be a great place to be.

‘It includes practical details like the number of plots, outline planning permission, architectural designs, and infrastructure arrangements.

‘Our process ensures that your interests are safeguarded. The resulting houses complement one another and sit well in their surrounding area. All the while ensuring a truly custom and bespoke build for purchasers.’

‘There’s logistical information like building zones and boundaries to protect existing views and the adjoining space.

At Oakwrights, we support you from design concept to planning, infrastructure, and vetting prospective purchasers on your behalf.

‘There are quality considerations like specified material palettes and finishes to ensure a cohesive, natural development that complements its surroundings and other properties.

Choosing us as your trusted custom build partner ensures your vision for the future becomes a reality.

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Custom Building: Past, Present, and a Lasting Legacy Over 100 years of family history comes part-and-parcel with Martin and Debra Cronk’s Pankhurst Wood plot located just west of Maidstone in Kent. Formerly part of the Barham Court estate, it was once the site of the ‘Keeper’s cottage’, home to the groundsmen who tended the adjoining woodland.

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Equally, because they live next-door, the thought of selling directly to property developers wasn’t a comfortable one.

The land has been in Martin’s family for three generations since 1921. It was his childhood home, later becoming his family home and livelihood in the form of Cromar Nurseries, a well-known and highly respected plant nursery across the Kent and Southeast area.

‘We knew we wanted to give the land a new life. But we needed to do so in a way that felt right for us and the surrounding village. After tending Pankhurst Wood for 100 years, we can’t help but feel connected to it. We knew we had to do our best for the land. For us, that was a custom build project with Oakwrights. It’s a dream project. Together, we’re releasing capital from the site, securing a comfortable retirement, and leaving a lasting legacy on the landscape.’

Now they no longer use the land at Pankhurst Wood for horticultural purposes and it sits empty, Martin and Debra decided that the time had come to sell and sought planning permission to see what was possible. Their local authority granted them planning permission for four properties on the site. What to do next proved problematic. The idea of self-building four homes on their beloved Pankhurst Wood plot was worrisome. They wanted to enjoy their retirement, not project manage a build site for the foreseeable future.

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