Situated just 15 miles from London, the Grade II listed Regency Baldwyns Mansion, on the site of the former Bexley Hospital, was totally restored to provide fourteen prestigious apartments in this enviable setting. Located in the best part of this 38 acre Green Belt site, Baldwyns is set within 5 acres of woodland and adjacent to playing fields.
Until 1759, Baldwyns Mansion Villa was owned by Sir Edward Hulse, physician to King George II. Later, the estate was sold to the Minet family who resided there until the early 19th Century when the house was rebuilt in a manner typical of Sir John Soane. In 1889, the 750 acre estate was leased to Sir Hiram Maxim, who contributed significantly to the development of flying machines and the concept of flight. Most of his time at Baldwyns was devoted to the development of an early flying machine, which flew publicly for the first time on 31st July 1894. The house and estate were bought by the London County Council in 1894 and later taken over by Bexley Hospital. Baldwyns Mansion served as part of this institution for nearly 100 years until closure in the early 1990’s. The Grade II listed Regency mansion suffered serious neglect in later years and was placed on the at risk register.
The Local Authority specifically linked the restoration of Baldwyns into the overall planning consent and residential build program. Laing Homes acquired part of the estate and subsequently looked to Morgan Restoration to restore and convert the mansion, in accordance with the stringent planning guidelines. Morgan Restoration, on taking charge of the derelict mansion, succeeded in negotiating a longer and more feasible timescale with the Local Authority for the restoration work, without causing any delay to Laing Homes’ building schedule.
Years of neglect and vandalism had caused extensive damage to the interior and all internal structural timber had to be replaced. The external structure, with three to six brick thick walls, was sound. However, unsympathetic additions had been attached to the right elevation and the original pitched roof to the front had been replaced by a flat roof. The main internal staircase was virtually destroyed by fire and most of the original features had been lost.
The first priority was to give the front of the building a new and appropriate roof. A roof of the mansard style was selected, featuring natural slate and traditional lead clad dormers with Georgian sliding sash windows. The unsympathetic extensions were demolished and replaced with a single, more appropriately proportioned wing. The building’s original stuçco was beyond repair and had to be replaced with new ashlar stuçco-work. The front windows have new, traditional sash frames with specially moulded lamb’s tongue, glazing beads. New French Doors with similar joinery detail to the upper windows have been installed at ground level as evidenced by early photos of Baldwyns. The entrance hall has been restored with new plaster cornicing, moulded from the few remaining examples. New skirtings and architraves have been machined to copy the originals and an exact replica of the original staircase has been installed. Baldwyns is now a building of two parts; three loft and four Regency style apartments to the front and five Victorian apartments to the rear, in addition to two self contained houses.
The lofts, a striking addition to the Georgian Mansion, feature double and triple height galleried living spaces, carved out of the principal ground floor rooms and include glass balustrades and even a stainless steel walkway in one. The first and second floor Regency apartments are more conventional in layout and the second floor apartments have the added benefit of secret roof gardens. The two and three bedroom corner houses each have private entrances with private gardens to the rear, backing onto native woodland. All the apartments feature stainless steel appliances, granite worktops and Phillipe Starck bathroom fittings.