We loved working with the set designer Niki Turner on this. We converted this incredibly dilapidated pub into the Archangel in Frome. The original owners had gone to great lengths to conceal anything original or beautiful about the building, and so our approach was to strip away all the accretions, the woodchip, the false suspended ceilings etc and reveal the original building and its incredible patina. As one (of many) reviews says:
Here’s a coaching inn whose owners – and architect – have taken a novel approach: they’ve let the building do the talking.
The Angel Inn was in a particularly terrible state. Despite its long history, dating back as far as the Domesday Book, it had become an uninviting pub where a while had passed since love had been lavished. Indeed, when the new owner Simon Waterfield went in months after it had suddenly closed, he found beer still in pint glasses and cigarettes in ashtrays. The regulars must have moved on to somewhere else, though it’s hard to know where, with pubs in Britain closing at 50 per week these days.
Simon changed the name of the inn to Archangel and began restoration. Think modern medieval. Architect Piers Taylor has preserved the ancient beams and walls and put them on show, conserving their patina and leaving them largely unadorned to speak eloquently for themselves. This is especially true in the barn-like restaurant, which has a mezzanine floor and a suspended glass “cube” that cradles a private dining table close to the cross beams, on which rows of “candles” (actually electric) appear to burn and drip wax.
The lighting throughout, by Bruce Munro – he of the wondrous Light Shower in Salisbury Cathedral – is an imaginative marvel. Renaissance paintings of angels have been deployed throughout as quirky wallpaper, and glass and steel, zinc and slate, leather and copper have been used to create a lux-rustic style that feels appropriate, as does the decision to preserve the narrow medieval lane that bisects the building from front to back. The long slate floored passage now gives on, not to stables, but to twin sitting rooms, reception desk and terrific lavatories, each with its own particularly stunning ceiling-to-floor angel.
All photography by Iain Kemp