Nick Churton of Mayfair International Realty visits a home designed by one of the pre-eminent modern British architects. Set in a leafy location less than an hour from London by train, the sale of the house is being handled by MIR member, Putterills.
Si monumentum requiris, circumspice (if you seek his monument look around you) may be the epitaph of Sir Christopher Wren but it could equally be said of Sir Edwin Lutyens, another great British architect. Lutyens’ important monuments include many of the civic buildings in New Delhi, India and the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London – around which we pay homage every year to the fallen in world wars and conflicts.
But perhaps Lutyens’ greatest legacy is the domestic residential houses that he designed and were clearly influenced by the Arts & Crafts movement. Often these were created in collaboration with the great garden designer of the time, Gertrude Jekyll. These English homes, including The Salutation, Kent; Munstead Wood, Surrey; Castle Drogo, Devon and Deanery Garden, Berkshire are as architecturally iconic as Hill House, Glasgow by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and possibly Falling Water, Pennsylvania by Frank Lloyd Wright.
But Lutyens also designed more compact homes and it was one of these I had the great pleasure of visiting recently in Knebworth, Hertfordshire. Lutyens designed several houses in this locale – principally commissioned by his brother in law, the second Earl of Lytton. This particular one, built in 1908, is a treat. It has all the Arts & Crafts references. But it has that other mark of great architecture – somehow it hasn’t dated. Indeed, a later addition at the rear that now wraps around a swimming pool freshens the contemporary feel. I sat in the sunshine by this pool talking to the owner over coffee, and very agreeable it was too.
Here then is a house by one of Britain’s architectural greats. It reminds one of all that is good in superb design. But above all it does what it was designed to do, it houses its occupants in comfortable, secure and sound style and it is a pleasure to live in. Certainly I should be delighted to live there.