When a developer planning to build an enclave of luxury homes purchased the land – and with it the landmark Lawson estate in London – locals wondered what the new owners would do with the 19th-century stucco and concrete mansion. The home is nicknamed “the castle” for its distinctive architectural and interior features, underground tunnels, secret passageways and five grand fireplaces.
There was talk of demolishing the derelict 10,000 sq. ft. manor, until a London expat returned to town and purchased it. When she walked through the door for the first time, the house had no running water, heat or electricity. There was an old septic tank in the back courtyard, critters living in the walls and evidence of vandalism. In short, the place was a mess.
A daunting task lay ahead, but the homeowner simply rolled up her sleeves. She dug a moat around the house to find drainpipes that fed old septic tanks, and painstakingly repaired antique windows and cracked wood.
The large library underwent the biggest transformation. After water damage repairs were complete and the room was cleaned, new insulation, walls, ceiling and radiators revived the room. The original wall panelling, crown moulding, baseboards and mantel were restored.
In the ballroom, a baronial-sized fireplace produces and returns heated air to the room, as well as the upper level. Other decorative features of the ballroom are found in the adjoining dining room, including octagonal patterning of the ceiling woodwork and inlaid hardwood, nested like colourful tile within the concrete floor.
A massive stone and wood staircase leads to the second floor, where the master en suite required a total gut. Since it was an add-on to the original house, the homeowner exposed the existing pebbledash stone and glass exterior wall for artistic effect.
Thanks to modern upgrades, and a respect for the past, Woodholme’s singular interior is shining once again.