Applying the EDG in practice: Essex Vernacular

Horkesley Hamlet Case Study

Development name: Horkesley Hamlet

Location: Great Horkesley, Essex

Size: 3.3 hectares

Architect: ADP Architects

Developer: Mersea Homes

Accommodation type: 22 individually designed dwellings

Horkesley Hamlet is a 22 unit scheme for Mersea Homes. When complete the scheme will consist of 22 individually designed dwellings including 4 affordable homes. The sensitively designed buildings are intended to replace the unsightly existing structures in order to improve the setting of key heritage assets the Grade I listed Church of All Saints and Grade II listed Chantry.

The major challenge of the development was that the scheme would need to be designed in such a way that no negative impacts on the existing historic assets would be created and over time the dwellings should age in such a way that the dwellings blend into the existing rural building groups.  As the Essex Design Guide makes clear scheme had to do much more than simply replicate historic buildings.

The development takes its layout queues from the historic evolution of rural settlements in order to create the proposed hamlet. To reflect that houses would have been built one by one over the years a number of materials, construction techniques and styles are proposed. The evolved layout encompasses a number of the EDG's Arcadian layout principles;

  • The layout is devised to allow houses to appear at intervals among trees as surprise features in the landscape an effect that cannot be achieved at densities over 8 houses per hectare.
  • The site already has a significant density of mature trees and hedges, existing vegetation which will be enhanced by new planting, where existing vegetation is sparse, a new pattern of substantial tree and hedge cover will be established with indigenous species.
  • Front gardens will predominantly by enclosed by hedges in order for the landscape to dominate the houses.
  • Car parking is designed to be discrete and not be visible from lanes.

In line with the EDG facing and roof materials have been selected from the range of regional materials characteristic of Essex, specifically to reflect the local vernacular palette. The walls will use a number of combinations of brick, timber and lime render and the roof treatment will be clay tiles, slate or thatch. A large number of the proposed houses will have a rendered finish, as the scheme aims to reflect the historic streets of Essex the majority of houses being a rendered finish is supported and promoted by the EDG.


Page updated: 25/04/2023

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