Origins of The Chatham Collection
The Chatham Collection was born out of the owner, Judy Green’s deep interest in Sri Lanka and her love of creating homes that provide the luxury of space and fit perfectly with a tropical lifestyle. The overarching concept behind the properties is to create light, comfortable and elegant spaces with a high level of service, so that her own family and visitors to the properties can completely relax and enjoy being looked after.
Having dreamed of visiting the teardrop island for years, Judy finally achieved this in 2003 with her husband. They stayed in Galle Fort and early each morning joined the walkers on the historic ramparts. It was on one of these morning adventures that she first met the owner who were busy renovating the Galle Fort Hotel and who, in turn, introduced her to reknowned architect, Channa Daswatte. Reminded of the Dutch architecture she was so familiar with from her childhood spent in Cape Town, and intrigued by the layers of history, she felt an immediate connection to the 17th century citadel.
20 Middle Street happened to be on the market at the time but was in a dilapidated state: parts had been divided up, the top story had disintegrated, the roof leaked like a sieve and a nursery school was being run in one of the front rooms. Falling instantly for the house, Judy made an offer on the spot and soon found herself the owner of the majestic but crumbling house.
The Restoration of 20 Middle Street
20 Middle Street is thought to have been built in the 1750s by a Dutch merchant by the name of Antonisz. However, in the restoration process, a granite stone engraved with the date 1703 was uncovered, which suggests there may have been an earlier house on the site. Roughly two centuries later, 20 Middle Street’s British occupants added the arched porch which forms the elegant entrance to the property. It is precisely these layers of history which continue to fascinate Judy.
At the end of 2004, faced with the daunting task of restoring 20 Middle Street’s historic features while bringing the house into the 21st century, Judy knew that her best option was to turn to reknowned architect Channa Daswatte. She was aware that Channa was passionate about protecting the integrity of old houses, also a matter of high importance to her.
The renovation took almost four years partly because of the extensive permissions needed in order to restore buildings within the Fort. Towards the end of the project, Judy was introduced to Srilanka based British interior designer, George Cooper, who collaborated with her on the interiors, helping her source furniture, fabrics and antiques. Pieces such as the four-poster beds were designed and custom-made in Colombo while family pieces including the Chinese ancestor portraits, blue and white porcelain and other decorative pieces were shipped from Hong Kong. Judy also lovingly collected antique maps of Ceylon from dealers across Asia,which are displayed around the house.
Habaraduwa House: The Chatham Collection’s first beach-front property
In 2011, feeling the need for a beach spot to accommodate her ever growing family, Judy purchased Habaraduwa House, a stunning architect designed beach-front villa . When she bought the property, inexplicably each of the buildings faced inwards and did not fully enjoy the glorious sea views. Judy realised that in order to compliment the beach-front setting, the Indian Ocean view needed to be the focal point. On a photo of the property, with a black felt pen, she set about redesigning the buildings with George and before long her ideas were realised.
Villa Sulanga & Villa Ahasa: the latest additions
The Greens bought the acre of land next to Habaraduwa House in 2015, more to prevent a small hotel or noisy beach club spoiling the serenity of their beach house, with no desire to embark on another project – but in the end this proved to be too tempting. Also aware that building would provide employment locally, they decided on two mirror-image villas, suitable for single families or large gatherings of friends and family because they are perfectly located next to Habaraduwa House. The villas have the facility to be completely private or to be joined at certain points to allow for easy access between all the houses.
A Collection with family at its centre
Having grown up in Cape Town and then Hong Kong which remains her home, Judy has a passion for travel. She divides her time between the two aforementioned cities, as well as Phuket, London and Galle Fort.The Chatham Collection properties are very happy holiday homes for her and husband Michael, their four children and growing number of grandchildren. When in Galle Fort Judy still takes early morning walks along the ramparts and enjoys catching up with the friends she has made over the years.