Barkers Restaurant, Clumber Park

Barkers Restaurant in the former Gardens House

Barkers Restaurant in the former Gardens House

Transforming the former Gardens House into exquisite tea rooms and function facilities
Barkers Restaurant, Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire

What it is
Gardens House was built in the late nineteenth century to house the Head Gardener at Clumber Park. The house overlooks the walled garden and vineries, allowing the gardener to be located close to his place of work. More recently, the house had been used as a private residence until it was vacated towards the end of 2009. When the house became available, we took the opportunity to convert it into our first ever fine dining restaurant; transforming Gardens House into a flagship venue, which provides seasonal food sourced as far as possible from within the park itself.

What we did and why we did it
We have worked to the existing structural layout of the building, so that visually its overall proportions and size have remained the same. We wanted to create a venue that felt as if you were being invited into someone's home. The interiors have been sympathetically converted in consultation with our Conservators, to ensure that original features were maintained where possible; reflecting the buildings’ historic importance.

The design includes contemporary wall-coverings and soft-furnishings that hint at antiquity, creating the feel of a home that has evolved from the period 1890 to 1930. Each room has been designed to give a different ambience which will allow repeat diners to opt for their favourite salon and to give conference attendees quiet, contemplative areas – a special treat compared with a standard conference venue.

The only change in the external appearance of Gardens House has been the introduction of a modest external seating area. This adds to the attractiveness of Gardens House and allows visitors to appreciate the building and its relaxed surroundings. By adapting the building for re-use as a tea room, we have enabled resources to be spent on the necessary repair and maintenance works that will safeguard the building in the longer term.

What else did we do?
We have diverted the exit route from the Walled Kitchen Garden through into the gardens of the tea room, and taken the opportunity to restore the gardens of Gardens House to their former glory. The gardens have once again been integrated with the Walled Kitchen Garden, providing a benefit to both the visitor and the wider historic environment.

Why it was a success
This project has given us the opportunity to open up and interpret for visitors the former Head Gardener’s home. We have brought a vacant building of local heritage importance back into viable use and made it accessible to the public for the first time. The interior designers have put together a fantastic quality look and feel; with positive feedback from visitors continuing to exceed all expectations.