Cobham Dairy

Kent

Overview

Having been on site since February 2018, we will soon complete the restoration of Cobham Dairy ready for the first guests in January. Keep an eye on the website to see new photographs of this beautiful building’s transformation.

  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Parking AvailableParking Available

Beds 1 Double

Sleeps
2
4 nights from
£454 equivalent to £56.75 per person, per night

A building that embodies romantic Arcadia

Ornamental estate buildings were the height of architectural fashion in the 18th century. The Dairy at Cobham Hall was conceived to represent a tiny Italianate chapel topped with a bell tower, and with four corner pavilions. The central chamber is encased behind miniature arcades of 'cloisters', fronted by an open loggia facing north towards Cobham Hall. This picturesque exterior concealed living quarters for a Dairymaid and a central dairy whose exceptional plasterwork and finishes make it as suited to aristocratic tea parties as to butter production.

Cobham Dairy has been one of Landmark's most transformative restorations. When we first saw the Dairy in the 1990s, it was a sad brick outbuilding and had been empty for decades. With the help of our supporters, including Eccesiastical Insurance, and with the use of exemplary craft skills, Cobham Dairy is once again a pristine eyecatcher to be enjoyed.

Floor plan

Map & local info

Located in the green belt between the Kent Downs AONB and the Surrey Hills AONB, Cobham Dairy is a Grade II* listed example of Gothic-revival architecture, nestled in the grounds of Elizabethan Cobham Hall. Cobham Dairy was first built by esteemed 18th-century architect, James Wyatt and now offers visitors the chance to holiday in its romantic history, within a beautiful estate.

Cobham Dairy offers the best of a countryside escape that is close to good road travel routes. There are a number of walking trails that unwind across this area, with Ashenbank Wood only a stone’s throw away for a quiet moment surrounded by tall trees and bluebells.

For sporty visitors, the Rochester & Cobham Park Golf Club offers an opportunity to test your swing, while the Cyclopark in Gravesend provides state-of-the-art cycling, skateboarding, running and extreme sports facilities.

Meanwhile, on the other side of Cobham Dairy, the River Medway is approximately 15-mins away, by car. Take a morning stroll by the water before stopping off at the White Hart pub in Cuxton for a spot of lunch.

Only a short drive away, the bustling town of Gravesend is filled with events and activities. From Meopham Valley Vineyard to the Blake Gallery, end your day with a leisurely meal overlooking the River Thames at the town pier and a performance at The Woodville theatre.

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.
Clear directions
FAQs

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    No, dogs are not allowed at this property.
  • How is the property accessed?

    By road and track from the main road.
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    The nearest railway station is Sole Street on South Eastern at 2.8 miles.  There is also Gravesend on Thameslink line at 5 miles or Ebbsfleet International at 7 miles.
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    Yes, there is parking for one car 10 metres from the property.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    There is underfloor heating and a wood burning stove.
  • How can I get fuel for the open fire or stove?

    Logs will be available to purchase onsite.
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc.
  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There is a bath in the bedroom wing.
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    There is small area around the property where you can sit.  The Dairy stands in the grounds of a girls school, it is vital for the safeguarding of the students that their privacy is respected. In accordance with the terms of our lease, please do not go beyond the boundary marked on the plan and wander in the direction of Cobham Hall. Landmark guests have no permitted access to the school or surrounding parkland and there is no public right of way.

    Booking and Payment

  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.
  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • How do I pick up the key?

    The key arrangements will be included in the Further Infomation document which will be sent to you prior to your stay.
  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • What if I arrive late?

    Our housekeeper will leave the key in a suitable place, the details of which will be sent to you prior to your stay.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!

    Staying at a Landmark

  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • Do you allow dogs?

    You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • What time can I arrive and what time do I have to depart from the Landmark?

    Arrival is from 4pm and departure is by 10am.
  • Am I insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Are there televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s). If you are visiting one of our European properties we have standard European electricity sockets. If you are visiting from the UK, you will need to bring your own adapter plug (s).

    Facilities

  • Are the kitchens and bathrooms restored to a modern standard?

    Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Is linen provided?

    Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival.
  • Are the kitchens fully equipped?

    Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Do you provide logs for the open fire/stove?

    Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Will there be a mobile signal in the Landmark I book?

    Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • Is there Wi-Fi in your buildings?

    No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
  • What should I bring with me? Are there toilet rolls, soap, shampoo, milk, teabags, coffee, hairdryer?

    A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide toilet rolls and a bar of soap per basin, but no other toiletries. We do not provide hairdryers.
History

Cobham Dairy stands in the grounds of a great Elizabethan house

The manor of Cobham in Kent dates back to 1208. In 1584, William Brook, the 10th Lord Cobham, remodelled the main hall into a spectacular Elizabethan great house, much of which exists today. Surviving the upheavals of the 17th century intact, in 1720 the estate passed by marriage to John Bligh, a wealthy Irishman, who was elevated to the earldom named after James I's kinsmen, the Darnleys. From 1747, the 3rd Earl of Darnley developed Cobham Hall and its estate further, so that by the time the 4th Earl inherited in 1781, it was once again the main seat of a powerful aristocratic family.

The 4th Earl brought in architect James Wyatt to design his father's spectacular pyramidal mausoleum and to work on the interiors of the hall. In 1790, the great landscape designer  Humphry Repton was commissioned to remodel the park, working as so often in partnership with Wyatt.

The romance of a decorative dairy

In 1791 the Earl married Elizabeth Brownlow It was probably as a result of Elizabeth's feminine influence that the idea of a model dairy was born, in gentle strolling distance of the hall. Its pedigree could not be higher.

Supervising the making of cream, butter and cheese was a recognised country pursuit for elegant Georgian ladies. Dairy pursuits personified a nostalgic yearning for simple goodness and simplicity popularised by contemporary writers, as industrial and political revolution gathered pace all around. Marie Antoinette's 1783 dairy at Versailles is often cited as the prototype, yet Queen Mary had a model dairy at Hampton Court in the 1690s.

Model dairies were among the most exquisite estate buildings, fitted out as elegant pavilions with tiled or marble walls, plentiful water, a copper warming pan and charming porcelain vessels, sadly all lost at Cobham, but intact at the other, even smaller dairy in Landmark's care, at Endsleigh.

Designed by 18th-century architect, James Wyatt

James Wyatt was one of the most popular and influential architects of his age and well-known for his romantic country houses. Born in 1746, his early career took him to Italy, where he studied in Venice and Rome. Upon his return to England, he was given the commission to build the Neoclassical Pantheon in Oxford Street, proving to be a huge success and gaining him the attention of the nobility. His other early work included Neo-classical country houses such as Heaton Hall, near Manchester and Heveningham Hall in Suffolk.

Wyatt was appointed surveyor general to the Board of Works in 1796. He was engaged with the restorations of cathedrals in Hereford, Lichfield, Salisbury and Durham, where his controversial plan to remove the Galilee Chapel was reversed by a preservation lobby. He also worked on Windsor Castle and Westminster Abbey.

One of Wyatt's most famous creations was Fonthill Abbey in Wiltshire, an extravagant Gothic fantasy based on mediaeval monastic buildings, designed for William Beckford. The central tower, close to three hundred feet high, collapsed several times over the years and the entire abbey was later completely demolished.

In addition to Cobham Dairy, Wyatt was the designer of another Landmark - The Birdhouse, a Greek-revival pavilion at Badger in Shropshire.

Restoration

Beginning with the basics of a brick building

Cobham Dairy has been one of our most transformative restorations. When we first saw the Dairy in the 1990s, it was a sad brick outbuilding, boarded up under lowering trees. Empty for decades, essential holding repairs had been carried out in the 1980s by a working party from the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. They had re-roofed the building and stripped the slate cladding and put it into storage. The building slept on.

Then in 2014, contact with Landmark was renewed, and so began a most satisfying project. It involved delving deep into lost 18th-century techniques. We were lucky to have James Wyatt’s original 1790s’ drawings at Yale to work from, and also his contemporary work on Cobham Hall surviving across the lawns. The result is a total transformation, back to the gleaming eye-catcher originally intended by Wyatt and the Darnleys, looking for all the world like a little Italianate chapel.

Sensitively restored in the style of James Wyatt

We researched the slate cladding technique in detail, including the notes of an 18th-century builder who used it for Wyatt on Soho House in Birmingham, a technique little used even in the 18th century. Its intention was to transform humble brickwork into a convincing imitation of finely dressed stone. Serviceable salvaged slates were re-used on the sheltered west elevation. The rest has been re-clad in Penrhyn slates, butt-jointed and meticulously shaped for the Gothic window reveals.

The original exterior finish was a stone-coloured oil paint onto which sand had been blown. Its replication required careful trials of paints and sands, and with onward maintenance in mind, we opted for a modern masonry paint into which sand was mixed. Following Wyatt, this finish has been carried through everywhere inside intended to mimic stone.

Wyatt conceived the main chamber like an elaborate chapel honouring the skills of the dairy. A cooling basin played the part of a font, sadly long since lost and anyway inconveniently placed for actually living in such a small area. We have however replaced the still useful Carrara marble shelf that ran round the room.

Restoration of the ribbed and vaulted plaster ceilings was carried out by master plasterer Philip Gaches and his team. Most of the ceilings had gone, but we had one or two oak leaf bosses and a few lengths of ribbing to copy. Scars on the walls showed the original ceiling line. The 1790s work was almost certainly by Francis Bernascone, a leading stuccadore of the day, and we consulted his work in Cobham Hall as well as Wyatt’s drawings.

The stone floors throughout the building were carefully lifted to install underfloor heating. The main chamber floor is an intricate design of limestone lozenges threaded with ribbons of purple sandstone, much of it original and requiring careful matching. Beneath the bedroom floor, once the dairymaid’s, we found a brick vault, a small concession to insulation in a building otherwise designed to stay cool.

Coloured glass windows were a common feature in model dairies and Cobham’s is no exception. All the windows have been remade, the red, yellow and blue border slips carefully match to contemporary glass in Wyatt’s hallway at Cobham Hall. The Darnley arms have been repainted as a central feature.

 

“Cobham Dairy is a rare and fragile survival. It is uniquely captivating, both as a miniature masterpiece by a brilliant architect, but also as a window onto the hidden world of 18th century women.”

Dr Anna Keay, Director

Watch Anna Keay and architect and television presenter, George Clarke take a tour of Cobham Dairy pre-restoration.

Watch video

 

Supporters of Cobham Dairy

We are delighted to welcome heritage insurance specialists, Ecclesiastical, as the lead funders of the project. Ecclesiastical matched the first £200,000 raised from other supporters, securing the first £400,000 of funding for the Dairy. Ecclesiastical also insure Landmark and its buildings. We are hugely grateful for their generosity.

Ecclesiastical is a special kind of business, giving back to the communities with whom we do our business.  As heritage specialists in the insurance world, I am delighted we are partnering the Landmark Trust in saving this important building for the nation and at the same time supporting the specialist craftsmen and women who will benefit from applying their skills in a high-quality restoration project.  Ecclesiastical believes in building long-term relationships with its customers, working together for the greater good and making a difference to everyone’s quality of life”.  Mark Hews, Group CEO, Ecclesiastical Insurance

Guardians of Cobham Dairy:
Dr and Mrs J Bull, Cobham Hall Heritage Trust, Mr S Conrad, Dr C Guettler, Mr J and Mrs J MacIntyre, and Mr and Mrs M Seale.

Patrons and other generous individuals:
Mrs C Alderson, Mr A Baker, Mr M Caporn, Mrs C Couchman, Ms S Darling, Mr H Eddis, Mr C Giffin, Mrs R Harvey, Mr D Haunton, Mr D Holberton, Mr S and Mrs R Jordan, Mr R Joye, Mr and Mrs R Lockyer, Dr and Mrs C Lott, Mr S Martin, Mr G Neame, Mr M Power, Mr B J Preston, Dr R Schofield, Mr B Sealey, Mr J Sharman, Mrs P Spens, and Mr A Wilson.

Charitable Trusts and Statutory Grants:
The Aall Foundation, Bunbury Charitable Trust, The Leslie Mary Carter Charitable Trust, The Country Houses Foundation, The Eversley Trust, The Greys Charitable Trust, The H B Allen Charitable Trust, The Charles Michael Holloway Charitable Trust, William & Edith Oldham Charitable Trust, The Leche Trust, The Oakdale Trust, The Pilgrim Trust, The Sainer Charity, and the Helen Robertson Charitable Trust. 

Gifts in wills:
Mrs S Preston, Mr J Senior, and Mrs P Smith.

Waitrose 

£1,500 has been donated to the Cobham Dairy appeal thanks to our tie-up with Waitrose. Donations from sales on a bespoke case of wine and commission from grocery deliveries have generated a healthy contribution towards saving this special building. Sincere thanks to Waitrose and our customers. If you’d like to order groceries and unlock a Waitrose donation there is more detail here

 

We are also grateful to the generous Guardians, Patrons and other supporters who have chosen to remain anonymous and to everybody else who has already supported the appeal.

Latest Updates Availability & booking

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.