Lutyens Houses on the Market
Since my last report in the summer, the most significant Lutyens country house to come onto the market has been Easton House at Repton, Derbyshire. A little-known work compared to the only other Lutyens house in the county, the much grander Ednaston Manor, it was designed in 1907 for LA Burd, a classicist who was a senior master at Repton School for 37 years. Until it came on the market last autumn for sale at £ 1.15 million through the Birmingham office of Knight Frank & Rutley and local agents Raybould & Sons of Derby, this comfortable two-storey six-bedroom house had last appeared on the market in 1971. The house stands in 4.6 acres of mature gardens and grounds, with avenues of lime and yew trees, and a delightful summerhouse with a conical hipped roof, which was originally the engine house for an electricity generator and a water pump. Like the house, it is listed Grade II.
The major portion of another country house with Lutyens connections is also on the market for the first time for many years. This is Framfield Place, near Uckfield, East Sussex, a 19th-century seat of the Baxendale family, who owned it from about 1873 to 1910 and commissioned Norman Shaw to make substantial alterations and additions in 1890-92. These included the remodelling of the hall and the addition of a nursery wing and billiard room and a bailiff’s cottage. “At this time, or shortly after” according to Norman Shaw’s biographer Andrew Saint (though Margaret Richardson puts the date at 1890), “the drawing-room was decorated by Lutyens in a parody version of Shaw’s Old English manner.”
How Lutyens got the commission when he was only 21 I do not know, but it is a small tour-de-force, more a parody of William Burges than Shaw to my mind, with green-painted panelling and beamed ceiling, and a large marble fireplace with an elaborate wooden overmantel in Burges’s medieval style. The stuccoed house was divided vertically into six freehold houses in 1971 and was listed as a Grade II* building in 1978. Now the three-storey central portion, with the main
staircase, six bedrooms and the Lutyens drawing room, is for sale at £895,000 through FPDSavills and local agents Batcheller & Thacker. It has its own private gardens and grounds of just over two acres, with lawns running down to a picturesque lake (in separate ownership) but including a private open-air swimming pool, garages for three cars and other outbuildings.
Several smaller properties that came onto the market last autumn included Little Munstead, one of several houses and cottages in the Munstead area of Surrey designed for Gertrude Jekyll while Lutyens was building her main house, Munstead Wood. Little Munstead, a Grade II listed house designed in 1895 for her butler, has five bedrooms and stands in two acres of south-facing gardens and grounds, with a heated open-air swimming pool and a floodlit hard
tennis court. It was placed on the market for sale at £ 1.3 million through the Guildford office of Browns.
Little Tangley, just outside Wonersh (but incorrectly placed in Bramley in the second edition of Pevsner’s Surrey, where Nicholas Taylor described it as “a dim house of 1877 given a new porch and staircase hall by Lutyens in 1899”) was broken up into several houses and apartments some years ago, and the coach house, barn, granary and stables were all sold off The house still stands in eight acres of communal gardens for which Gertrude Jekyll originally provided planting plans, though these were not carried out. A three-bedroom apartment with no trace of Lutyens handiwork came onto the market last October for sale through the Guildford office of Curchods for only £358,000, including a share of the freehold, but it has subsequently been withdrawn.
One of the two beautiful entrance lodges to Middleton Park in Oxfordshire, one of Lutyens’s last great country houses, designed in collaboration with his son Robert and built in 1935-38 for the Earl of Jersey, came onto the market for sale through the Oxford office of John D Wood & Co at £425,000 for a long leasehold that still has more than 120 years to run. Wilmere Lodge is a five-bedroom Grade II* listed property whose owners enjoy the use of 40 acres of landscaped gardens and grounds, included in which is a heated swimming pool and a hard tennis court.
Finally, I must mention two important houses in Westminster. The first is 8 Little College Street, an enormous six-storey house – one of a pair with frontages to Great Peter Street – designed by Lutyens in 1912 for the Hon Francis McLaren, who had married Sir Herbert Jekyll’s daughter Barbara the year before. Frank McLaren, who had been MP for Spalding, Lincolnshire, was killed in a flying accident in 1917, and the elaborate war memorial in the grounds of Ayscoughfee Hall, Spalding, was also designed by Lutyens in his memory.
McLaren’s London house, used as offices for 50 years after the second world war, was superbly restored in 1997-99 by Carlton Hobbs, who put the 9,100-sqft building on the market for sale through Hamptons International last year, optimistically priced at £6.95 million. They continue to use this Grade II listed building as offices and showrooms for their antiques and paintings, and anyone with access to the Internet can enjoy superb photographs of the Lutyens exterior and interiors at www.carltonhobbs.com.
The second London house, 16 Great College Street, is a Grade II* listed building behind Westminster Abbey and across the road from the House of Lords. Built in 1722, this five-storey Georgian townhouse was altered by Lutyens in 1901 for one of his best clients, Alfred Lyttelton, for whom he had already designed Greywalls at Gullane in 1900 and remodelled Wittersham House in Kent in 1907. Sadly, English Heritage’s brief listing notice for 16 Great College Street makes no mention of Lutyens’s unrecorded but probably extensive alterations, but one hopes they will survive the proposed conversion of the building from offices back to residential use. The building was placed on the market in January for sale at £6.5 million through Sotheby’s International Realty. I hope to make an inspection soon.