Work in progress…

I am particularly useless at taking photos of what is going on on-site. Site photos tend to be un-photogenic and bit chaotic to look at. This floating oak staircase is a little bit different and shows a little of how they are formed.

Making something look this simple is incredibly complicated and expensive to do. In this case hidden within the wall is a huge amount of steelwork to support the cantilevered stair treads. The complexity of this is made considerably worse by the fact we had to wind the upper treads to achieve the necessary headroom.

2016-03-11 11.19.53-1  2016-03-11 11.18.30

Well nearly….

I was very chuffed to be nominated and shortlisted in the Local Authority Building Control Awards for the south-west this year. This was for our work on the new house at Sparkhayes Campsite in Porlock in the ‘Best Individual New House’ category. Details of the project are further down this blog here – . A great team worked on the project and it is their attention to detail that won us the nomination I am sure.

Unfortunately we didn’t win but we can now use this logo on our headed paper etc so thats nice isn’t it :-)  I must start sucking up to our Building Control Officers for a nomination next year…


New apartments for sale soon

I am currently working on some new apartments at The Tors in Lynmouth. These will all have the most amazing views as you can see below.

These flats are being developed by Westbourne Real Estate, the property arm of the late Martin Miller Westbourne have a proven track record of developing this type of high spec accommodation and their in-house team of craftsmen are producing some of the tidiest electrical and plumbing installations I have seen. The finishing is superb.

Interior design on the show flat is being led by London based designer Catherine Mitchell and is available for viewing now, further flats are available to be finished to your specification if you get in quick.

To be kept up to date on this project keep checking in here or sign up to Millers email updates and offers via

The first flats are now being marketed by, click on the photos below for the full panoramic effect…

Lime Rendering

If you know me you will know I am on a mission to rid the world of nasty cement based render on old stone buildings.

This is a step further forward on my mission and demonstrates the nicer softer appearance and depth of colour proper lime renders and limewash finishes have.

You can find more information on why cement renders are so bad for stone buildings here:

A new house

Another rare work post on here. This is a new house and campsite office project I have been working on for a very long time. Planning was a bit of a long process on this one but we got there in the end.

The house is on a basic campsite that retains its rustic farm appeal so we didn’t want to plonk a modern house there, it had to be something rustic. With this in mind we set about designing a house that would look a bit like a converted Linhay. Materials and detailing were very important, the darker timber principle structure is Oak and we were lucky to source some great Cedar for the cladding, the roof is natural slate and the rendered gable walls are done in a through coloured self finished render. Although the gables are done in cavity block construction we cut the corners down to give the building soft rounded hand formed edges.




The project was Project Managed by Mark Freeman of Porlock. I can’t recommend Mark highly enough contact Mark on 07773 149298 if you are planning a building project on Exmoor. He provides a very cost effective alternate service to the traditional contractor.

If you are Planning a camping holiday on Exmoor Sparkhayes campsite is ideally located in Porlock. It is run by one of Exmoors true gentlemen Mr Philip Weaver who will definitely add value to your stay with his knowledge and enthusiasm for all things Exmoor. Contact details for the site are here –

BarleyView2        BarleyView3



A rare work post

I have been fairly useless at self promotion on this website, mainly because I never need to look for work which is a happy situation to be in.

Anyway here are a few photos of todays work to give you an idea what I get up to.

If you have an old building that needs help or have an interesting idea for something new then given me a call, I may be able to help.

Hoaroak Cottage Works


This morning I have been to a site meeting about Hoaroak Cottage in the wilds of Exmoor. Exmoor National Park have commissioned some consolidation works on the cottage to preserve its structure as much as is practical.

This is very much a ‘suck it and see’ job so this morning we all met on site to discuss exactly how far to take the work. Thankfully we were all singing from the same hymn sheet and works will now progress further in a few weeks time with completion due in late September/early October.

For more information on Hoaroak Cottage visit


Random Slate Roof


I have been working in Architecture almost since leaving school in the mid-8os.

I worked initially for Clive Jones and Associates where we specialised in Environmentally Conscious Architecture, a long time before it became fashionable.  We worked on projects designing extensions and refurbishments to Cheshire Homes in Devon and South Wales and several Medical Centres as well as lots of bread and butter Barn Conversion jobs. We counted ourselves to be extremely lucky to have our office in a Victorian Summerhouse overlooking Lynmouth Bay, we froze in winter and boiled all summer but had some great times, often working late into the night making models of projects. We even had a model we built exhibited in The Royal Academy of Art in London. Clive’s enthusiasm for all things ‘Green’ gave me a good deal of experience in this area, we attended many seminars and site visits to view cutting edge projects in places like The Centre for Alternative Technology and it is something I take interest in to this day. I worked with Clive for 10 years before becoming self-employed when the practice moved to Bideford.

After a couple of years self-employment designing and working ‘on-the-tools’ on building projects I was asked to go and help Jonathan Rhind Architects ‘for a week or ten days’, or so Jonathan said when he called. I was there for nearly ten years! I worked with a great team at JRA where we specialised in Conservation work. I ran projects on large country houses, churches, and castles amongst others. This was very different work to that I had been used to and a steep learning curve. A lot of our work involved working on site with contractors to solve the problems that naturally arise whilst repairing complex old buildings, this gave me a great insight into the use of traditional materials, detailing and techniques. Whilst at JRA I was also on the design team for some very fast track modern restaurant and hotel projects, the nature of these projects meant that detailed design was done mostly on site as we went. We used a lot of high quality high value materials in these projects and a lot of purpose made items and I have retained some good contacts from this time. I left JRA to work in our family business and spend more time at home in 2003.

Since selling our family business I have been self-employed again and now work freelance for a number of Design and Property Companies throughout the South of England as well as on projects for private individuals throughout Exmoor and beyond.

Services:        Measured Survey Work using laser and traditional methods.  Architectural Drawings for Planning, Building Regulation, Listed Building, Environment Agency Applications etc and also publicity or management uses.  Drawings are prepared using AutoCAD software or traditional pen and ink as is appropriate.  Photography. Website design.

I have been using AutoCAD for years and have to finally reluctantly admit it is far better than drawing by hand for the vast majority of what I do. I do still do initial design work with paper  and anything that comes to hand that will draw.

I have amassed a huge CAD database of traditional building details on computer file I can call on making design work on traditional buildings particularly efficient. Increasingly Planning Authorities are asking for a great deal of detailed information on Joinery and the like and to reproduce drawings of this complexity can take a lot of time, having this information easily to hand saves time and money for clients.


manor 008  MattsTrip 009  iphone 021  SLF

Contact me on 07532 264184 or email willbowden@ this website

Its my next job to try and update this page, I should get to it sometime in 2013.

On Safari

After many months waiting for consents and conditions to be aligned I had a pleasant morning doing a recce run deep into the heart of Exmoor with Neil and Christel from Experience Exmoor. They will be helping us transport guests of The Friends of Hoaroak Cottage to Hoaroak Cottage as part of the Voices of Hoaroak Project we are working on. The guests are quite elderly but have valuable memories of the cottage and the people who lived there. We are hoping visiting the cottage will bring more memories to the fore.

The cottage is completely cut off from the world, to get there is an offroad adventure driving over open moorland with little more than a sheeptrack marking the way. Obviously taking vehicles over open moorland is very sensitive and we needed consent from the land management company on the day we were intending to travel. We also undertook to assess the conditions as we went to be sure we minimised any environmental damage. We took my Land Rover 110 to inspect the ground conditions and take a view on the logistics of taking Experience Exmoor’s Discovery 4 next time.

After a couple of weeks with no rain the moor was very dry and we had no problems getting to the cottage as the photographs show. Only one section of the drive could present a problem for the Discovery on less aggressive tyres and we can overcome that by winching it up the vulnerable grassy slope.