The The installation of automatic gates at a renowned National Trust hunting lodge in Hampshire sparked a verbal row among prominent interior designers.
The “horrendous” gates Francis Sultana, the new owner of Odiham Hunting Lodge, erected before receiving planning approval, according to the Times, have outraged critics.
The Grade II listed structure, formerly called the ‘prettiest little house in the world’, will have two metal doors according to designs submitted by Sultana, a 49-year-old interior designer and Maltese cultural ambassador.
The new doors would be positioned behind the conventional white wooden doors that now surround the house’s famous Jacobean Revival façade with three intricate gables, according to planning recommendations.
Renowned interior designer John Fowler, who resided at Odiham Lodge until 1947 and turned it into the epitome of English country house design, has angered a group of admirers who have criticized Sultana, who moved into National Trust property last year.
According to 62-year-old designer Jasper Conran, John Fowler could not have imagined that such improvements would be feasible.
The National Trust has a responsibility to protect this very attractive structure and its grounds from outside influences.
Decorator John Tanner has been the driving force behind the strong opposition, asking his 27,000 Instagram followers to protest to the council over doors and other elements in the planning requests.
Sultana’s plan also calls for the construction of 14 CCTV cameras and a plastic-covered fence surrounding the property, further infuriating members of the National Trust and the group of interior designers.
They claim that the improvements would run counter to the property’s 18th century conservation management plan.
The character and general setting of the land, in particular the intended location and views of the house, are unaffected, according to the National Trust plan.
On his Instagram, fellow Fowler follower Graham Carr called the gates “one of the most gruesome sights” he had ever seen.
I think the National Trust has a lot to answer for,” he said. “You could see from the start that it was going to be a disaster.”
In her application to the council, Sultana calls the new metal doors an “upgrade” over the previous ad hoc lattice installation as they “balance acceptable between not disturbing the view of the house while blocking the entrance of deer”.
Designer Nicky Haslam, who resided at the house for 40 years until 2019, had already installed the trellis.
Haslam, 82, said he was not allowed to put up anything other than a simple fence to repel deer.
Haslam became famous for creating tea towels listing items he believed to be “common”.
Haslam didn’t want to directly criticize the new tenant, but he wondered why Sultana was allowed to make improvements to the property when he wasn’t.
I fell in love with the hunting lodge when I was young, recalls Sultana. I am aware that the news of my rental did not please everyone.
But I want to reassure anyone who cares about the house as much as I do that the National Trust and I have only the best interests of the house and garden in mind.
According to the National Trust, the choice of a tenant is never based on price alone.
We consider a variety of aspects when choosing a tenant for a residential home.
Due to its connection to Odiham Castle, which King John erected in the 13th century, the house was often believed to belong to King Henry VII.
However, it was probably built in the 18th century.