Case study: Hamilton blends modern style into Thornbury Castle Hotel

Tasked with ensuring that 21st century technology blended seamlessly within the 16th century luxurious surroundings of the castle, Hamilton Litestat’s custom-made plates became part of the solution…

Thornbury Castle Hotel

Populated throughout history with both regal and wealthy guests, Thornbury Castle, a Grade I-listed building, became a luxury hotel in 1966, and remains the only Tudor Castle in the UK operating as a hotel and restaurant.

The hotel has 27 bedchambers, fifteen of them featuring sumptuous four-poster beds, decorated using traditional materials and artisan design to create a unique regal experience. The castle hotel also shelters six deluxe suites, including the recently restored Henry VIII Suite – the actual room where the King and his Queen, Anne Boleyn stayed during their 10-day royal tour. Along with the newly named ‘Catherine of Aragon Tower Suite,’ extravagant Tudor Hall and dining room, Thornbury Castle Hotel encourages guests to immerse themselves in the Tudor high-life.

Under new ownership, the hotel embarked on a multimillion-pound refurbishment program to channel Tudor grandeur with contemporary hospitality. Due to its historic significance, all works commenced under the stewardship of Historic England. To meet the upgrade conditions to the electrical and lighting system, project architects, Childs Sulzmann needed to deliver a solution that used much of the building’s existing infrastructure. This included using existing wire ways, fitting new wiring accessories within existing recesses in the wooden skirting where possible, using existing wire chases and leaving the original 1,500s stonework untouched.

bedroom detail with Hamilton Litestat fittings in Thornbury Castle

Image credit: Hamilton Litestat

With a sumptuous bed as the centrepiece of each room, it was decided that guests should be able to control the room lighting from the bed at the simple flick of a switch. The design and finish of all wiring accessories needed to complement the rich Tudor décor, and USB charge points, and other a modern-day necessities needed to be incorporated into the final design.

With 24-carat gilding used throughout the castle hotel together with gold finished tapestries, carpets, and Tudor-styled soft furnishings in many rooms and hallways, the decision to complement these with Antique Brass finished wiring accessories was not a difficult one. Electrical contractor, Electrio Limited, undertook all of the installation work and invited Hamilton to the project. Hamilton’s popular Hartland collection, with its slim, sleek profile was the ideal box-fix design to harmonise with the ornate brass bedside lamps and dark wood panelling.

“I’ve worked with Hamilton numerous times and have always been impressed with the quality of work they bring to a project,” said Tony Long, Project Manager, Electrio Limited. “Knowing Hamilton’s ability, and I must say willingness to take on a brief for short run custom-made plates, sets them apart from other companies. A British manufacturer working on a very British project, it couldn’t have been a better fit – the dependable and trusted partner you need when working to such exacting standards.”

sympathetic bathroom fittings by Hamilton for the listed bathroom design

Image credit: Hamilton Litestat

The desired bedside lighting control was achieved with custom-made plates from drawings supplied by the project architects, Childs Sulzmann. The plate functionality included control of the room chandelier, table lamps and beside lamps within each room, plus a single power socket with a USB port for charging a smart device. Sheer CFX was selected as the ideal design; a very flat plate with concealed fixings that sits almost flush to the wall, and again finished in Antique Brass with Black inserts. All three light sources are controlled with 3-Gang Toggle Switches – a retractive toggle for each light source – the perfect choice in a Tudor castle because they discreetly accentuate the period feel. To ensure ease of use by the guest, the function of each switch was clearly etched on the plate.

In some of the bedchambers, such as The Prince Arthur, the lavish dark wood bedhead is positioned up against the original stone wall. To meet conservation regulations, the custom-made plates were fixed to stained oak panels that were then affixed direct to the bedhead. When installing new accessories to original skirting board, the old recess was used wherever possible.

The desking area in each bedchamber required a second multi-functional bespoke plate. Sheer CFX was again used for continuity, and the plate provided everything one would need for using a laptop and to recharge other smart devices.

Atmospheric lighting control was achieved through the inclusion of Casambi Wireless Control modules fitted within the custom-made back box of each wiring accessory. This enabled the gradual dimming of the lights where scene setting was required. Sustainability is a pre-requisite, even in a Tudor castle, and the Casambi modules provided a master control switch ensuring all room lights are automatically switched off as guests leave.

An occasional table with a decorative table lamp was positioned in the centre of the larger bedchambers and deluxe suites. Again, a mixture of conservation and health & safety meant positioning a power socket within the original stone wall and to run a cable across the floor was not an option. Sheer floor power sockets positioned under the table, with a protective cover plate finished in Antique Brass, were used to deliver power to each lamp.

Each suite has a palatial bathroom, with either an ornate slipper bath, a walk-through wet room styled shower, or both. A Hartland shaver socket finished in bright chrome with black inserts was installed to complement the bathroom’s polished chrome tapware, delivering a feel of luxury-meets-stately-opulence.

traditional bathrooms in Thornbury Castle with contemporary fittings

Image credit: Hamilton Litestat

The meticulous attention-to-detail delivered throughout this project by all concerned has contributed towards creating a totally unique guest experience of authentic Tudor hospitality, and while candle holders would have replaced the decorative wiring accessories back in the day, nothing looks out of place. Hamilton’s expertise at delivering bespoke solutions that integrate both seamlessly and sympathetically within a heritage project was key to the success of the project.

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Main image credit: Thornbury Castle Hotel