Home » Town’s last remaining pub goes sustainable


Architects De Matos Ryan have transformed the last remaining pub in a UK village to be sustainable with a full renovation of guest rooms and the inn’s historic pub. The architects added 12 guest bedrooms and fully renovated The Alice Hawthorn’s entire operation. The village of Nun Monkton was a medieval trade route in the north of what is now the United Kingdom. Eventually, road travel decreased, which led to the decline of the area as a social and trading hub.

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The village has lost four taverns in recent times due to economic decline. The Alice Hawthorn, named after a famous 19th-century racehorse, was saved due to a collaboration with Harrogate Borough Council and the local community. The community feedback included the mention that arriving home at night and seeing the pub lights created a warm feeling of contentment and calm. Seeing these lights switched off, never to turn back on, would damage the community and sense of continuity in this ancient place.

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A front view of the pub

Designers say that the feedback told them it was incredibly important to save the pub from extinction. They considered community needs at every point in the design.

A garth between the buildings

The redevelopment included 12 ensuite guest bedrooms, four on the first floor of the pub and eight around a new courtyard. Moreover, the project took inspiration from the Norse garth, a word meaning grassy cloister or clearing in the woods. A garth cultivates a sense of quiet enclosure and of the village green being a place of gathering.

Large square windows to allow natural light

For this renovation, the design was modern but the style was inspired by the informal farmsteads that surround the village green around the pub that continues to be grazed by cows and other livestock. Locally-sourced Douglas fir was used to frame the buildings that also use authentic agricultural building materials such as galvanized corrugated steel roofing and larch cladding.

A path toward parking with permeable paving

What might look like a modern intrusion into the village has deeply thoughtful roots in local culture and architecture and traditions. The Sheds, Field Barn, Stables, and Tack Room, all new timber frame buildings, look like traditional buildings from the area that would have housed animals.

A closer view of the exterior wood used

The lower level of each building is decorated with larch conifers while the upper level is sinusoidal galvanized steel. There are also no windows to the north and west to prevent light pollution to the neighbors. Meanwhile, there is a vegetable garden out back. That’s just the beginning of the green aspect of this project.

A close view of the timber used inside the structures

A ground source heat pump is supplied by boreholes and supported with non-combustible mineral wool insulation. In fact, airtightness is at a standard higher than present Part L2A building regulations. The timber structures are ventilated through clerestory windows. Solar gain is tempered by roof overhangs that offer shading. LED and low-energy lighting as well as low-volume water appliances are used throughout.

One of the renovated suites with a focus on timber

Outside, a drainage system that’s sustainable includes permeable paving and surface water detention tanks, which are hidden below the pub garden. On another note, the designers say that one challenge was to develop a one-hour fire-resisting timber frame wall within three feet of the site boundaries. To achieve this, the designers used a fire-resistant sheathing internally, avoiding carbon-heavy blockwork.

A renovated, modern bathroom with a wood focus

A traditional orchard is being restored behind the site. Biodiversity is also being addressed with on-site habitat creation and extensive plantings including native species. The fruit trees from the orchard on site will eventually supply the pub’s kitchen.

The redevelopment of The Alice Hawthorn has created new revenue streams for the restaurant and bar business, improved traffic, and encouraged people to spend within the local economy. We love the attention to detail and community feeling, as well as the structure of the site in a manner consistent with traditional uses. For all the traditional aspects you would be surprised at how sleek and minimalist the newly renovated interiors are at this historic pub.

+ De Matos Ryan

Images via Hufton + Crow



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