Built circa 1725 is this Grade I-listed early Georgian house, set in Chatham’s historic dockyard. The vast home is one of the largest on the terrace, spanning 6,682 sq ft. The terrace, something of a living museum, is steeped in history, and its 100-acre site is privately gated and managed by 24-hour security. Defined by symmetry and elegance, the house has six bedrooms and multiple reception rooms unfolding across five storeys, while a formal Grade II*-listed parterre garden and a garage sit behind the house. Trains from Chatham run to London in 40 minutes, and the house has easy access to the beautiful Kent coastline.
Setting the Scene
Officers Terrace lies the Historic Dockyard Chatham, built between 1722 and completed in 1731. A handsome terrace of 12 Georgian houses, it was used as both domestic residences and formal offices for the principal officers of the dockyards; among the residents were the Master Shipwright, the Clerk of the Cheque, the Storekeeper, the Clerk of the Survey and two Master Attendants. There is a walled garden connected to each house, the implementation of which preceded the construction of the terrace for three years. Some gardens remain little changed from their original 18th-century arrangement and exist as some of the only surviving examples of Britain’s ‘town’ gardens. For more information, please see the History section below.
The Grand Tour
Finished in local brick with a stucco basement, the house speaks a language of early classical symmetry, decorated with clasping pilasters and Doric porches. The primary entrance to the home is via the dockyard’s formal terrace, where a classical stuccoed porch makes for a welcoming approach into the lower ground floor hallway and ensuing first reception room. With an expansive inglenook fireplace and timber floorboards underfoot, the space is currently used as an informal living space, which has a wood-burning stove and views over the communal gardens. This floor also contains an expansive gym space and storage room with the original flagstones underfoot, alongside a wine cellar with space for several hundred bottles.
The ground floor, which holds the main entertaining spaces, is home to a fine reception room that overlooks the dockyard. Flooded with light from four full-height sash windows, the space has two fireplaces and soaring ceilings. Adjacent is a formal dining room finished in a vibrant ‘Invisible Green’ by Little Greene; the room has original panelling and overlooks a quiet, private rear courtyard. From here, one can see the original brass door handles and locking mechanisms that are rare survivors from the house’s original construction.
On this floor, there is also a rear entrance hall with a guest WC, leading to an expansive kitchen with a separate boot room and utility space, which protrudes to the rear of the house. Topped in a wonderful Brazilian marble, the kitchen has a bank of floor-to-ceiling wall units and an island with a hob and vent above.
A fine cantilevered staircase ascends to the first floor and gives a grand sense of proportion, offering views all the way to the top floors of the house. The vast primary bedroom suite occupies a commanding position overlooking the communal gardens. With original fireplaces and a separate dressing room, the interiors have been finished in a calming palette of colours by Farrow and Ball. Adjacent is a large family bathroom with a shower, vanity and WC. There is also a large guest bedroom with an en suite on this floor, currently used as an office, plus a further guest bedroom.
The second floor is home to three expansive bedrooms, all with classical sash windows and original fireplaces, alongside a large bathroom with tub, overhead shower, vanity and WC. Above, the third floor holds four large attic rooms; originally the home for junior officers, the rooms are currently used as storage but would work well as additional accommodation.
Externally, a private garage, store rooms, and an original sentry box used to store logs sit opposite the rear entrance to the terrace.
The Great Outdoors
The Officers Gardens at Chatham were first started in 1719, in advance of the building of the terrace that now sits in front. Laid out symmetrically, with simple stone-edged flower beds set between gravelled paths, the gardens of this house have been expertly restored to the original plans kept by the Greenwich Maritime Museum. A series of clipped box parterre hedges provide year-round greenery, whilst a host of fruit trees and blossom trees give colour and fragrance in the spring and summer months.
A greenhouse and external potting sheds are the perfect places for the green-fingered, and multiple terraced seating areas provide space for entertaining throughout the year. The gardens are now Grade II*-listed for their historic importance.
Out and About
Chatham forms part of the Medway district, together with the neighbouring towns of Gillingham, Rochester, Strood and Rainham. Officers Terrace, sitting within the town’s historic dockyard on the banks of the River Medway, is within close proximity of a wealth of maritime activities, ranging from visits to The RNLI Chatham Museum, tours of HMS Cavalier and trips to the Ropery (which has been in working use since the dockyards were founded).
Nearby Rochester is a hub of historical interest, with the Norman Castle and Rochester Cathedral founded in 604. Annual festivals are also held in the town for one of its most famous residents, Charles Dickens, who moved to the area a five years of age. One of his most famous works, Great Expectations, was inspired by a nearby Restoration house, while the Bull Hotel sparked the inspiration for the Pickwick Papers.
Chatham town centre is within walking distance and has a range of supermarkets, a post office, and an array of independent cafes. For leisure, there is a local cinema, the Chatham Central Theatre, and the Brook Theatre, the latter of which is currently undergoing extensive refurbishment. The Strand Lido is also nearby; opened in 1896, it is now the only remaining riverside tidal saltwater pool in the country. For pursuits in nature, Capstone Farm Country Park is a 15-minute drive from the house and offers 114 hectares of green space comprising woodlands, orchards and a freshwater lake.
The recent restoration of the Grade II-listed Command House pub has seen it become a gathering point for the local community. Rochester is two miles away and is home to The Cheese Room, which has fabulous cheese, loaves and charcuterie. A few doors down is The Botanicals, serving delicious food and carrying over 100 varieties of gin. Also in Rochester is the brilliant Don Vincenzo, an Italian restaurant that serves fantastic pizza.
For schooling, nearby Chatham Grammar is a celebrated girls’ school. Also close by are King’s Rochester, St Andrew’s Prep, Gads Hill, Cobham Hall and Rochester Independent.
Chatham is well connected by train by Chatham train stations, a 10-minute drive or a 20-minute walk from Officers Terrace. From here, regular trains provide access to London Victoria in 45 minutes and London St Pancras in 36 minutes. The house is also well positioned for access to London via the A2 and M2 motorways.
Council Tax Band: G
Chatham Dockyard was established as a Royal Dockyard in 1567, a site for building, repairing and maintaining the fleet of Royal Navy warships. There is a long history of naval presence on the River Medway, the first documentation of which was in the Pipe Roll Accounts in 1547 which record the rental of two store buildings on ‘Jyllingham Water’ and by 1570 the dockyard facilities centred around Chatham. Indeed, the Sunne and the Merlin, two Chatham built ships, formed part of the fleet for the Spanish Armada.
Since these Tudor beginnings at Chatham, the dockyards have played part in the Dutch wars, the Napoleonic Wars and two World Wars, seeing through an industrial revolution, the demise of the battleship, and the rise of the submarine.
One of the area’s most famous connections is with Charles Dickens, who moved here when he was five. After leaving Chatham, he later returned to Gad’s Hill place in Higham. Many of Dickens’ novels include references to Rochester and the surrounding area where today two festivals are held in his honour. In more recent years, the town has been home to many well-known creatives, including Tracey Emin, Zandra Rhodes and, most recently, FKA Twigs.
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