Home School

The former Victorian grammar school headmaster’s-house-turned-garden-flat stole the hearts of Sarah and Ed Wealend, and has become a home which reflects their shared passion for pattern, plants, travel and DIY

Images & Styling Tamsyn Morgans 

Perched on a hill in the Kent seaside town of Folkstone, the handsome brick-built Harvey Manor, a former boys’ grammar school built in 1886, could easily be mistaken for an ecclesiastical building with its belltower, buttresses and large windows. Designed by Robert Wheeler – an architect noted for designing churches and chapels – it’s no surprise to see the design hallmarks of a place of worship. Split into several dwellings after its life as a school, it’s the sizeable garden flat within the headmaster’s house which caught the attention of Sarah and Ed Wealend in 2020.

Despite Sarah – a primary school teacher – being the Rightmove addict in the family, it was Ed – head of research and development for a global engineering consultancy – who spotted the place for sale. The charm of its pitched porch entrance, grand rooms, original features, and a cool vaulted ceiling in one of the back bedrooms, led to a viewing, an offer, and Sarah sending a very persuasive letter to the owner to urge them to accept their offer over another. ‘We hadn’t even listed our own flat for sale, but our hearts had been completely stolen by the character, history, scale and location of this wonderful building. As luck would have it, we managed to sell pretty quickly, and our offer was accepted,’ explains Sarah.

With a personal and professional passion for old and listed buildings, Ed has worked on some very high-profile jobs, including restoring a national horticultural treasure and the Royal Mint. He is also director and trustee of the Folkestone Leas Lift – a charity which is restoring a Grade II-listed water-balanced funicular railway. ‘Harvey Manor very much suits Ed’s weekend persona of a director of a Victorian funicular railway – it looks like the kind of house you’d emerge from wearing a top hat, waistcoat and pocket watch!’ smiles Sarah. ‘For me, it felt like the perfect space to flex my penchant for eclectic maximalist interiors, texture, pattern, deep jewel tones and indulge in my plant obsession – the amount of light and green which comes in through the windows enables plants to thrive and us to feel immersed in a botanical wonderland. It also felt like the right place to grow our family.’

Images & Styling Tamsyn Morgans 

A classic yet playful interior, it has been created using clever DIY hacks and an interesting mix of old and new treasures. It has the feel of a grown-up home which doesn’t take itself too seriously. Honouring the history of the building as they stamp their mark on the place, Sarah and Ed have made sure the interior nods towards time spent living in Shanghai. ‘We want our home to reflect our lives, both past and present, and while I appreciate and admire neutral, luxurious décor, it just wouldn’t be ours if it wasn’t bold in design with vintage and Chinese influences and plenty of art on the walls.’

The previous owners had gone against the Grade II listing and made some unfitting cosmetic changes, so Sarah and Ed made sure any works carried out were done under listed buildings consent. From reinstating a mantelpiece in the living room to exposing brickwork in the vaulted room they now use as a nursery, everything has been done by the book.

Words and styling Alice Roberton Images & Styling Tamsyn Morgans 

Read more from issue 70, available to buy here