Designer: Nick Maes
This incredible seafront apartment occupies the principal part of Adelaide House, a magnificent 19th century, Grade II listed building that was once the residence of Queen Adelaide, wife of King William IV. The two-bedroom property has been meticulously restored and reimagined in recent years by Nick Maes who has retained the grandeur of the original spaces whilst adding more contemporary touches such as a wonderful sculptural shelving system that runs up the stairs.
The apartment’s living room, on the building’s first floor, has panoramic, unobstructed sea views through spectacular 12ft high floor-to-ceiling windows. The windows also flood the interior spaces with natural light. The split level arrangement of the apartment means that you arrive in a hallway with a wonderful kitchen / dining area to the right and a staircase leading to the living room on the left. Another staircase leads up from the living room to a mezzanine landing, off which are located the two bedrooms and a bathroom.
The dramatic scale of the main space is offset by the cosier nature of the bedrooms. The kitchen / dining room, which has been cleverly designed and fitted by Maes, looks out to the rear of the property. There is an allocated off street parking space located at the back of the building.
Adelaide House, constructed around 1835, was given a Grade II listing in the 1970s and is one of the most impressive of the houses that can be found along the appropriately named Grand Parade on the front at St Leonards-on-Sea. Notable features include an elegant curved bay at the front and elaborate 19th century iron railings.
Queen Adelaide is known to have occupied the house in the years 1837 to 1838, having left Buckingham Palace after the death of her husband King William IV. She was staying as a guest of the Very Rev. Hon. George Neville-Grenville (the Dean of Windsor), who then owned the house. The house has a distinguished history of owners including the Boulton family (the most celebrated of whom, Matthew Boulton, appears on the £50 note in honour of his work, alongside James Watt, on steam engines).
St. Leonards-on-Sea is an increasingly popular seaside town, partly due to its proximity to London but also because of its beautiful Regency architecture. Developer-architect James Burton, and his son Decimus, developed the resort in the early 19th century, with echoes of London’s Marylebone and Belgravia where the Burtons had previously practised.
This apartment is directly opposite the shingle beach at St Leonards. There are many other beaches, such as Fairlight, nearby.
St. Leonards has a growing number of delicatessens, bars, pubs and restaurants, and has been a popular spot for 20th-century furniture shops and galleries for some years. Direct train services from St. Leonards and Hastings reach London’s Charing Cross in approximately an hour and a half.
There is an annual service charge payable, the most recent of which came to £1,406. There are 56 years remaining on the current lease. The current owner has said he is committed to extending this by 125 years on completion taking the lease length to 181 years.
Please note that all areas, measurements and distances given in these particulars are approximate and rounded. The text, photographs and floor plans are for general guidance only. The Modern House has not tested any services, appliances or specific fittings — prospective purchasers are advised to inspect the property themselves. All fixtures, fittings and furniture not specifically itemised within these particulars are deemed removable by the vendor.
Nick Maes published an article on this apartment in The Observer in 2016. The full article can be found here.
“I spent less time on deciding to buy my apartment than I would a pair of shoes. I’d seen the 12ft floor-to-ceiling windows and 30 seconds later had said yes. But that’s how the place affected me: it was gut instinct.
The windows are quite something – they’re the only original element that survive from when the house was built in 1835. Like many large homes, Adelaide House has been tweaked and chopped and tinkered with over the years, removing all character.
But that meant I could start afresh, reinventing the space. Being slavish over the refurbishment was pointless – too much had been lost. I’d nod to the building’s history instead through egg-and-dart cornicing and the campest ceiling rose I could get. Finding a chandelier was a problem. I fell in love with an expensive Murano glass design. So I found a factory in China to hand blow something similar for a fraction of the cost.
Rather than employ a designer I trusted my own judgment. Scale, colour and simplicity were key. Wide engineered-oak planks are used throughout the flat, knitting the space together and creating free-flowing living areas that focus on the spectacular view of the sea. Bannisters went out in favour of plate glass, ensuring a sea view even from the back of the kitchen.
To my mind, the kitchen is the single most important room. I dislike wall cupboards and kitchens that are too fitted. So I created a movable island with storage for crockery and drawers for utensils. Stainless-steel countertops give it a semi-industrial feel, and a Bertazzoni range cooker adds to that flavour.
I kept furnishings simple and bold. The sofa, Eames-style armchair and midcentury wing chair are complemented by oak armchairs reupholstered in cowhide and a large kilim. Local artist Roberto Landin created the two dark blue paintings and the coloured skull installation.
It was important to me that the shelving beside the stairs was sculptural, so I designed it to house objects rather than the practicalities of books. And it’s from that mezzanine level that I think are the best sea views. I never tire of walking out from my bedroom each morning to see what the day is doing.
Both bedrooms have antique beds. In the guest room is a William IV half tester – a reference to his widow, Queen Adelaide. She moved to the house in 1837 after leaving Buckingham Palace, and my living room was her bedroom. If the place was good enough for that old queen, then it’s good enough for me.”