'Neglected' seaside terrace returned to its former glory is for sale
- Credit: Lucy Halpin
A four-bedroom Victorian terrace in Lowestoft has come up for sale after a "mammoth" renovation project to restore it to its former glory.
When owner Andrea Titchiner bought the “sad and somewhat neglected” house, she says she had no idea how long it would take to bring it back together. It was, in many ways, a forgotten home, but she says she loved its position, facing the sea, and could see its potential.
At the time, the property on Wellington Esplanade was divided into three flats. “The house contained plasterboard walls, rotten PVC windows, storage heaters, stale décor and tenants,” she says.
The first step was to consult with the conservation planners, who she says were “delighted that such an iconic listed building in this prestigious terrace was going to once more be a whole house.” She says the Grade II listing didn’t apply to its interiors, but the planners still wanted to see a ‘nod’ to its past, so she did some research.
At the Suffolk Records Office, Andrea discovered hand drawings of the original development, which consisted of 24 houses built to the designs of local architect J.L Clemence for Sir Samuel Morton Peto.
Wellington Esplanade was, according to Historic England, “part of the extensive plan for housing” to transform Lowestoft into a “fashionable holiday resort” – but this was only made possible by Peto’s building of the railway in the 1840s.
Peto was an entrepreneur, civil engineer and, for more than 20 years, an MP in Norwich, Finsbury and Bristol. As a partner at Grissell and Peto, he managed the construction firms that built many of London’s major buildings and monuments, including The Lyceum, Nelson’s Column and the new Houses of Parliament.
Later he turned his attention to expanding the railways, both in Britain and abroad, and helped to develop Lowestoft. He is still commemorated locally. There is a bust of him at Norwich Railway Station as well as Peto Way in Lowestoft, which connects to Normanston Drive.
Andrea wanted to keep some of the building’s history intact, to honour its Victorian heritage. “I did not want to change the bones of this house,” she says. “I wanted to find them again and follow the original Victorian layout. I hoped to find hidden some gems of the past that could be recovered or reinstated.”
And as luck would have it, she did.
As work began and paint was scraped off, the property’s original window shutters in the sitting room were revealed and could be restored. It was, Andrea says, a “mammoth job” to install proper sash windows, not just in one room but throughout the whole property.
Although double-glazed, they needed to have the same thin dimensions to look original. “Though hugely costly, they do indeed make the property proud again and allow vast swathes of light to flood in,” says Andrea. “That in turn manifests in providing fantastic views of the sea and the wonderful East Anglian sky.”
Renovating the property meant completely stripping it back and installing new heating, electrics, gas, lighting and plumbing. This also allowed for a total redesign, turning what had been cramped little kitchens in three separate flats into stylish and beautiful bathrooms.
“I hoped I would find original panelling, anything exciting to work with behind the flats’ makeover in the early 1990s,” explains Andrea. “There were deep skirtings, fabulous hand-sculptured cornicing which, where it was missing as the rooms became whole again, I had matched by a master craftsman completing the work as the Victorians would have done.”
Andrea kept the top and lower floors – where servants would have worked – more simple and introduced only plain features to stay in keeping with the building’s original tradition. “The two central floors, where the family would have been, had the full décor”, she says, which included far more decoration and detail.
Individual fireplaces were reinstated in each room, although the only one that works is in the sitting room. This was a conscious decision, to honour and recognise the building’s period detail but still remain in line with the needs of the modern day.
“Loving the height of the rooms and the space that came back, I relished finding the wall colours that instilled new life,” Andrea says. “I could feel the house sigh and breathe again.”
It took three to four years to transform the property and, today, accommodation includes a double reception room, with adjoining sitting and dining space, a large kitchen with electric Aga-style range and useful utility and store rooms. There are also four double bedrooms, two bathrooms – including one en suite – and a separate shower room.
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The rooms are light and airy and beautifully finished, incorporating heritage paints and pretty wallpapers throughout.
There is a patio dining area at the front and a terraced garden at the rear, as well as parking for three cars and, best of all, seaside views.
Andrea says that the property has offered a sense of calmness, comfort and creativity. “The challenges of this period home were many,” she says, “but could all be overcome, and there were none that the house hasn’t welcomed and accommodated.”
Now, she says, it is a comfortable, practical and contemporary home that honours its heritage – and offers further opportunity either as a busy family home or perhaps “just a wonderful place for an escape.”
The property at Wellington Esplanade, Lowestoft, is for sale with no onward chain at a guide price of £650,000. Call Tim Day at Suffolk Coastal on 01728 677980 for more information.
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