Charles Knowles Design : Architects

Gravetye Manor

Architectural Concept

The challenge was to provide a large new restaurant building and basement set within the underused asymmetrical yard of a world famous Jacobean manor house (Grade 1) and garden (Grade 2*), both recently restored to their former glory by Elizabeth and Jeremy Hosking. The rationale was to create a simple, understated and elegant contemporary solution which would not compete with the existing building, and add to the legacy of an enlightened patron. The proposal was a horizontal traditional lead roof line (reflecting the horizontal layers of the garden) to be seen from the croquet lawn and upper floors of the hotel. Referencing the earlier porch by Sir Ernest George, the new addition of columns with frameless glazing all around with minimal intervention, partially protrudes outwards to reduce the bulk, taking no support from the existing building. The columns are mostly outside the glazing to lessen their impact when the garden panorama is viewed from the interior, for it is the fusion of food and garden that gives the hotel it’s unique character. Like many “simple” designs, it involved very complex planning, detailing and construction.


Exterior and interior of the new building are designed to complement each other. The symmetry of the interior restaurant layout reflects that of the new building. The concept was of an “umbrella” under which one appears to dine within the garden. The floating umbrella structure is set away from the walls using frameless glazing to allow light and sun to pour down the weathered stonework and through into the existing building as well as the new, and for the structure to project out into the garden planting. A central roof light allows further sunshine deep into the space. New carved locally quarried stone openings have been formed to connect the old building to the new.


The priority was to give every diner in the Michelin starred restaurant a view of the garden and to divide the space into three distinct areas with dwarf wall banquettes to provide intimacy and enhance the sense of personal space.

The banquettes around the perimeter follow the existing and new stonework dado and absorb sound. The ceiling is a light maple acoustic ceiling reflecting the layout of the seating areas. The floor is in two parts, a stone floor around the perimeter against the stone walls, and a Versailles pattern 200 year old reclaimed oak one in the dining space under the maple ceiling. To soften the externally weathered stonework, there is hand painted artwork set off the walls, to reflect the garden planting.


Months of meticulous preplanning by the architectural/consultant team with the local contractor enabled a fast track programme on site of only 4 months including the worst of winter weather. The works included some internal alterations including a new kitchen. The whole concrete basement to house plant room, wcs and store rooms was factory prefabricated in parts, complete with every service hole requirement for the restaurant above, shipped from Germany and dropped in by crane. The steel frame and glazing design were coordinated with only 5 millimetres of tolerance and had to fit as there was no time to site measure before glass manufacture.

Some Gravetye Diners’ Reviews from TripAdvisor

“…I was completely stunned with the beauty of the room. It was simply the most artistic and perfectly balanced modern room I have ever seen.
“…I would have to write a full essay to do it justice but I will content myself with saying that Monet would approve. You must go and see this jewel.
“…Amazing new restaurant which looks like it has been there for years.
“…the new dining room spectacular!
“…an outstanding success as it brings the garden inside.
“…Being escorted to the restaurant after drinks in the lounge left me quite breathless on entering. This is, by far, the most beautiful eating space we have ever visited. The ambiance looking over the garden on a summer’s evening is stunning and it is a complete masterpiece in design.
“…new restaurant, an absolutely stunning, glass room overlooking the garden. It is a triumph.
“…new restaurant is fantastic.
“…is all new and gorgeous.

Some Gravetye Diners’ Reviews from

“We had a fantastic meal with family who were blown away with the new restaurant. The whole experience was amazing …….. The new restaurant has taken the hotel to a new level which I haven’t experienced anywhere else in this country.”
“The restaurant was absolutely stunning. It took my breath away when I walked in.”
“Eventually we were taken through to the most exquisite dining room I have ever been in.”
“My breath was taken away at the sight of the garden through the glass wall as we entered the dining area.
“….is incredibly well designed as is the interior design and decor. The visual link to the garden is stunning.
“….definitely captures a feeling of actually being “in the garden”!
“….quite simply amazing - a little like watching a moving watercolour.
“….fabulous and brought the glorious garden into the room.
“….is simply stunning.
“….is a delight.
“….is a triumph.
“….outstanding and inspiring
“….an amazing space that enhances the food, and the whole dining experience.
“….the new built just works so brilliantly - great design .
“… a masterful design that marries-in very well with the Listed Manor.
“… extremely well designed and comfortable.
“… amazing and enhances the experience blending amazingly with the building and the garden!
“…is an awesome experience with outstanding views in a wonderful setting which compliments the delicious food.
“Loved the architecture of the new dining room, and how it integrated the view of the garden.
“The stunning and inspiring new dining room lifts the Gravetye eating experience to a significantly higher level than before, whether it is sunny or raining outside.
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