Pobble House by Rachael Smith


Photographs Rachael Smith

Words Dominic Bradbury


For Shilen Patel and his wife, Rachel Murray, the idea of a family escape by the sea has been a long cherished dream. For Patel, in particular, the idea of building something new has also been an ongoing ambition, fitting in with his passion for architecture and design. The two goals were met in the form of the Pobble House within the dramatic setting of Dungeness on the Kent coast.

This is something of a Marmite kind of place, with its expanses of open shingle, big skies and a nuclear power station looming nearby. Artist and film maker Derek Jarman helped make Dungeness famous with his own striking house and shingle garden, recorded in a landmark book. Since then, Dungeness has becoming increasingly popular with artists and architects, who live alongside the fishing families and settled residents of this curious English enclave.

Patel, who runs an innovation company, first became interested in this part of the coast on boyhood bike rides from South London. For many years the family kept a beach hut in Whitstable that they enjoyed on days out by the sea, but eventually decided that they wanted something more permanent and substantial, which would provide a weekend and holiday alternative to the working week and their terraced home in Finsbury Park.

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