Today, it’s a handsome family home, tucked down a winding, leafy lane at the heart of an Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty. But Brooke Lodge has had a varied career.
In the beginning, it was a stable – belonging to a rambling ten-bed Victorian manor, long-since demolished.
Then it was a school. During the Second World War, following the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia, it educated hundreds of Czech refugee children.
For decades, it was half-house, half-workshop, thanks to the eccentric lifelong motorbike enthusiast who lived there.
But for the last twenty years, it’s been home to the Kelly family – mum, dad, two daughters, and two dogs.
And while they’ve very much made its three-and-a-half acres their own over the last two decades, the Kellys see themselves more as custodians of a characterful piece of history than owners of some bricks and mortar.
It’s a duty the family take very seriously – and it means that when it comes to making home improvements, only the best will do.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s our responsibility to preserve the house to the best possible standards,” Mrs Kelly explains.
“People have lived here before us, and people will live here after we’re gone – and the onus is on us to maintain its historic character for whoever comes after.”
It’s a noble sentiment – but in practice, it can be a challenge, particularly as the building starts to show its age.
“For twenty years, we kept the Lodge’s original timber windows,” Mrs Kelly continues. “They’ve been here right from the very beginning – right from when there were school kids here in the War.
“They’re part of the building’s character, so we tried to eke them out as long as we possibly could. But come the end, they were in a bit of a state. Let’s just say they had a lot of ‘natural ventilation’!
“So, with a bit of apprehension, we took the decision to replace them.”
The Kellys’ nervousness was understandable. On a heritage property, home improvements leave you with a lot to think about it. Will the new products be in keeping? Will the installers treat your home with respect? Will it ever look the same again?
Luckily, just down the road in Guildford, Mrs Kelly found one of the South-East’s most experienced window installation businesses, with decades of expertise in exactly this kind of project – P&P Glass.
“Right from the get-go, I was extremely impressed with P&P,” Mrs Kelly says. “I don’t think there are many window installers who’d send the Managing Director down to the first meeting.
“I was adamant I wanted timber. Personally, I think it would be irresponsible to use anything else on a house of this age and character. And fortunately, P&P has a fantastic range of timber windows and doors available.”
With P&P’s help, the Kellys were able to identify a style that closely matched those of the originals – and before long, the company was fitting some hand-crafted timber replacements, finished in a stately cream, to the upstairs bedrooms and bathroom, as well as adding a timber French door to the master bedroom.
“The P&P installation team were absolutely fantastic. Before they began, I had all sorts of concerns about whether removing the original windows would damage the house, whether the installation would create a lot of mess and so on.
“But the process was painless and straight forward from start to finish. They were meticulous – at the end of every day, you’d never know they’d been.
“It’s an old house, and some of the windows are at funny angles. But they did a brilliant job despite those challenges, and despite my fears initially, we didn’t need to do any redecoration once the project was complete.”
“I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend P&P – and we’ll definitely be using them again ourselves in the future!”