A New Midhurst

In 1921 a new 'Midhurst' was built, according to rumour, on the piggeries of the old house. The new 'Midlrurst' is a delightful Arts and Crafts building, with two gates and a shallow gravel drive curving between them. It is a long rendered building with a round-headed brick doorway and a roof in hand-made tiles. At one end is a coach house or garage, and at the other a wide, recessed entrance to the greenhouse, which must have been a delightful feature but has now been demolished and the entrance walled up. Incidentally this must have made the house much warmer.

The house is laid out in a typical Arts and Crafts manner, with a long hall-passage and staircase on the north side and square rooms, all facing south over the garden. Rooms have fairly low ceilings and each has french doors opening out to a verandah. The large end sitting room has a ceiling-high fireplace in thin hand-made bricks such as Lutyens loved, with patterns made of creasing tiles. The outside terrace is paved in beautiful limestone slabs, now rich in old lichens, bordered by the same thin bricks. In short, this is a delightful late example of the sort of house that Lutyens and Webb had been building twenty or thirty years earlier.

Many years ago the Midhurst site looked over the Bishop of London's Hunting Park, where deer and boar had roamed free. When the present house was built it looked out over the empty Water Board land, but small houses have now been built, fortunately on lower ground, so that from the garden of Midhurst one sees only the tops of their roofs and those through a screen of trees.

The house was built by A.N.Prentice for A.C.Shankland. and the drawings are dated 14 October 1920. By this time Lutyens had moved on to build houses and huge office buildings in the Classical tradition, changing, altering and inventing all the while. In the 1920s he was building the flat brick facades like 7 St James's Square, which Billy Collins was to reflect in his Fortis Green flats from about 1925 onwards. Prentice, on the other hand, went back to the 1890s to build this delightful house, long, low and comfortable, to take full advantage of the sun.


North Elevation 8

 

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