Many visitors wonder why an incongruous red-brick house should have been added ot the medieval stone
monastery at Farnborough. The red-brick house is, in fact, the original priory commissioned by the Empress.
As she lavished her finances on the Abbey Church it quickly became clear that the house modelled on the
chateau of Blois would have to be a low budget brick version, rather than the elaborate stone affair she had
In 1903, various designs were drawn up for proposed extensions to the house. The architect Benedict
Williamson, at the time a novice at Farnborough, designed the tower, in the style of the Abbey of Solesmes,
itself influenced by the Maurist architecture of Mont Saint Michel. The imposing edifice of four towers,
which was to swallow the red-brick house, was never finished. The First World war ended the project and so
the monastery buildings remain the charming and intriguing mix we see today.
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