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The Royal Navy has built more than great warships
Henry VIII has been titled England’s “great sea King” and is generally regarded as the father of what, in 1660, became the Royal Navy. The constant struggle to defend our shores resulted in the constructions of such iconic ships as the Mary Rose, Victory, Royal George, Vanguard, Arch Royal and the current Queen Elizabeth. However, the Royal Navy is also responsible for building some of our great historic houses.
The royal dockyards including Portsmouth, Chatham, Deptford and Sheerness as well as the Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth were constructed under the watchful eye of the Navy Board. The need to be at the cutting edge of design, not just of its ships but also its buildings, saw the Navy Board employ the most eminent engineers, and surveyors of their day. Each shore base was its own community with the senior officers having suitably impressive purpose-built houses.
By the end of the 18th century the dockyard at Sheerness was considered an important part of the defence not just of the naval bases at Chatham, Deptford and Woolwich but the whole of London. The threat of invasion, initially from Spain France and subsequently in the 20th century from Germany was a constant concern.
Following a disastrous fire at Sheerness in the late 18th century the Navy Board saw fit to appoint the eminent engineer Sir John Rennie and architect Edward Holl to rebuild the dockyard and the defences. Rennie had established a name for complex engineering projects, including many of the country’s canals and the building in the 19th century of Waterloo Bridge. Edward Holl held the posts of architect to the Navy Board and Surveyor of Buildings to the Board of the Admiralty.
Together they masterminded the reconstruction of the Sheerness Dockyard in the early 19th century at the not inconsiderable cost of £2,586,083. In addition to the Superintendent’s house, Regent Terrace and several other port and domestic buildings within the dockyard a further terrace for officers’ houses was constructed just outside the dockyard wall, known as Naval Terrace.
The classic late Georgian early Regency terrace are not part of this country’s build heritage and are Listed Grade II buildings. They are a fine and elegant example of Rennie and Holl working together, combining the solidity of construction Rennie was famous for with the classical design and eye for detail typical of Holl.
The historic houses in Naval Terrace remain as practical today as they were when first built. No 5 Naval Terrace has recently been very sympathetically restored. Amazingly after nearly 200 years many of the architectural features and detail has been preserved.
The 3 to 4 bedroom house which forms the central portion of the terrace has two well-proportioned ground floor reception rooms, a large dining room and spacious kitchen. Some of the original built-in furniture which still survives includes a substantial kitchen dresser and a number of built-in cupboards, it has polish wood floors and shuttered sash windows. To the rear is a low maintenance garden leading to the former coach-house which now has planning consent to be converted into residential accommodation.
For more information about this property and its history contact: 020 7664 6646
Dawn Carritt Director
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