Goddards Study Day

Wednesday 7 June 2006

The publication of the monograph on Philip Webb by Sheila Kirk entitled Philip Webb, Pioneer of Arts & Crafts Architecture, inspired the choice of subject for the annual study day held at Goddards. Sheila Kirk not only considered Webb’s architecture but also his friendship with William Morris and the foundation of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. Two aspects of Webb’s career were considered; in the morning Philip Venning, Secretary of SPAB discussed the foundation of the Society, illustrating his talk with photographs of famous buildings which had been conserved in the 19th century. Webb and Morris founded the society to protect the architectural heritage against over-zealous ‘restorers’. A notable example was St. Alban’s Abbey where contemporary black and white photographs illustrated the ‘restoration’ in a neo-Gothic style. Philip Venning gave a clear idea of Webb’s philosophy, his place in late 19th century architectural practice and his lasting influence.

Margaret Richardson went on to talk about Webb’s impact on Lutyens, which he acknowledged in a memoir he wrote on Webb’s death in 1915. Several houses designed by Webb on the southern slopes of the Surrey hills are very near Goddards – Joldwynds, Coneyhurst, Willinghurst and Great Tangley Manor, which Webb enlarged. These were known to the younger architect and the Trust was fortunate in securing permission from generous owners to visit Coneyhurst and Great Tangley Manor in the afternoon.

Coneyhurst, built 1884-6 for Miss Mary Anne Ewart, a family friend, was designed for a lady who was interested in gardening and enjoyed entertaining. The property is now divided into three homes and the study group was fortunate to see the interior of the house and appreciate the planning of the hall and reception rooms. Great Tangley Manor is a 16th century manor house which Webb sympathetically enlarged for the solicitor, Wickham Flower. Many of Webb’s ideas inspired Lutyens and were reinterpreted in his designs.

After a wet spring, the sun shone on the day, stimulated by excellent talks, the study group was able to enjoy looking at buildings in ideal conditions, fortified by a good lunch.

Janet Allen