20 Highfield Road – now home to Simpsons Restaurant – is in a prominent position at the junction of Highfield Road and Westbourne Crescent in the Calthorpe Estate. Its main elevation faces the Grade I listed St George’s Church. The building was constructed as a dwelling around 1830 and was extended and altered on more than one occasion during the Victorian and Edwardian Periods.
From the late 1950s the building was used as offices but it had been unoccupied for over eight years before Lapworth Architects refurbished and converted the building to a restaurant. The existing building was in poor condition before the restoration, and the damaged roof had leaked in several areas, causing serious damage to the interior areas and the veranda.
Damage that had been caused by the theft of the fireplaces and other items was also evident, as well as further deterioration from damp and general neglect.To make matters worse, the previous refurbishment into an office had changed the character of many parts of the building with incongruous, unsuitable additions and the removal of many of the house’s original features.
The brief from the now Michelin-starred Simpsons Restaurant was to convert the ground floor accommodation into dining areas and the kitchen, together with main entrance, reception and lounge bar area. This project included us restoring the elegant Regency veranda to be used as part of the dining area, which would also be extended by adding a new conservatory dining area.
Simpsons restaurant also wanted to covert the first floor level into a cooking school, together with four bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms. The second floor was to be converted into facilities for staff and the restaurant wanted to refurbish the basement as a wine cellar. The scale of the project and the previous use of the building meant we had to carefully unpick the damage caused, then create the restaurant facilities and also restore the building in keeping with its listed status. Quite the challenge!