Tudor To Trendy


Stanbridge Manor, a Grade II listed Tudor manor house formerly used as a boarding school, has been sensitively redeveloped to create a luxurious and welcoming venue. Set in 32 acres of natural woodland, open meadows and ornamental lakes, it is minutes away from the beautiful town of Romsey in the Test Valley of Hampshire. The manor is the centrepiece of Audley Stanbridge Earls luxury retirement village and houses The Montfort - a stately new restaurant, bar and bistro. Together with the spa which is in an adjacent new building, these facilities form the Audley members’ club.

Abode2 spoke to Jen Bernard, MD and founder of Bernard Interiors, about the interior design scheme for Stanbridge Manor as well as what’s next for Bernard Interiors.

Historical building restoration is an interesting specialism for you and your team – what is it like working on projects like this? 
The opportunity to work with a listed building is a huge honour. The first time we visited Stanbridge Manor we could see its potential, which was exciting, however there were also challenges and any new additions had to reflect and support its unique character. Working on listed buildings takes a particular skill set, appreciation and know how.

Do you have a favourite space in this historic project?
One of my favourites is the bar - with its original panelling, stone fireplace and stained glass windows it has a grand, stately home feel. The bar itself is completely free standing, so as not to damage the original panelling, though still features subtle lighting for functionality and aesthetics. I love the injections of bright jewel colours in the furnishings and accessories. We chose colours that sing against the dark wood and reference the intense shades found in some of the stained glass with school shield motifs.

How did you tie in local history to create such a beautiful feel to Stanbridge Manor?
Artwork throughout was carefully selected from the loan collection of Southampton City Art Gallery to reflect the local history and surrounding area. The placement of each piece was discussed with the conservation officer in advance of hanging, to achieve authenticity within the scheme. We also sourced and framed many pieces linking to the local area - a clipping from an American wartime magazine, published in 1943, details stories from when the manor house was an air force rest home. The clipping includes a nostalgic black-and-white photograph of residents leaving the grand entrance of the house on bicycles for a picnic in the woods. Original plans of Stanbridge Manor also adorn the corridors leading to the restaurant to create talking points and encourage socialisation between owners.

How did you approach the newly built spa scheme?
We brought the same stylish approach to the interior design of the new health and wellbeing spa, which includes a sauna, steam room and swimming pool, gym, salon and treatment rooms. The spa reception had to be serene, sophisticated and welcoming. A circular glass-topped table is accessorised with solid brass decorative cherries underneath a bespoke pendant light fitting and creates an eye-catching focal point. The pool area is softly lit and natural branch installations give a subtle nod to the surrounding woodland, bringing an organic feel and boosting feelings of wellbeing. Most accessories and artworks carry links to the site’s history and nearby coastline. Framed shells and nautical prints adorn the walls in the communal corridors, and there are coral ornaments on console tables. Sport-inspired photography features in both the gym and corridors creating interest for the property owners and club members from the local community.

What's next for Bernard Interiors?

Upcoming projects include a grade II-listed Neo-Georgian mansion in Berkshire, a late 19th-century manor house in Solihull and a new build luxury retirement development in Cobham, Surrey. I am also extremely proud that our commercial and residential work has recently been recognised internationally. We have been shortlisted as finalists in the SBID International Design Awards for two of our projects - a private residence in Marbella in the ‘Residential Apartment Under £1M’ category and Audley Nightingale Place in the ‘Healthcare and Wellness’ category. We look forward to attending the awards ceremony in October!

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