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Photographer: Andrew Barnett

Deanery Garden (now called The Deanery)

Gazetteer No. G0084

Date 1901

Address Thames Street, Sonning, Reading, Berkshire RG4 6UR England


The garden elevation of this house (south west) is one of Lutyens’s most famous compositions. It is the culmination of the lessons learned from Surrey and his own experience in building Munstead Wood. The great bay window with forty-eight lights in it is balanced by the tall, simple triple chimney stack. A round arched entrance decorated with recessed brickwork connects the interior of the house to the garden via a terrace and bridge. The garden is one of Lutyens and Miss Jekyll’s finest collaborations using informal planting, water and the natural appearance of the orchards and old walls to such an effect that Hudson wrote in 1903, ‘So naturally has the house been planned that it seems to have grown out of the landscape rather than to have been fitted into it.’ The interior with its double height great hall and dramatic timber work looks back to Stokesay Castle and also reflects Hudson’s interest in 17th century Dutch paintings of interiors. The courtyard and entrance axis from the door in the village wall are two areas of the house that are rich in variety of architectural and spatial details that occur again and again in later houses. (Amery et al., 1981, cat no. 132)

Deanery Garden 1901, Sonning, Berkshire
Three gateways penetrate an ancient brick wall enclosing the north end of an old orchard. Two wings extend from the house out to the wall to enclose an inner court with the central gateway leading down one side of this court through a low- vaulted passage to the front door. A screens passage interrupts a sequence of main rooms parallel to the road and continues out to the gardens which are again layered parallel to the road. The house and courtyard are arranged about an axis which in the double-height hall locates the large oriel window and fireplace, as well as the statue in the courtyard. However, the entrance passage which extends as the main axis of the garden is asymmetric to the mass of the house.

The building is constructed of red Berkshire brickwork under a tile roof with leaded lights set in oak window frames. Internally the brick walls are plastered, but the church ashlar, introduced in the groin vaulting of the entrance passage, continues into the vestibule and stairway and is used as an infill between the oak wind bracing of the cross partitions in the hall. The construction of the stair is typical of Lutyens at this date; each dowel is clearly expressed, the space between the joists of the landing is left open to allow light to filter through to the vestibule below and the ends of the joists are beautifully finished with miniature coffers. (Inskip, 1986, p.46)


Amery, C., Richardson, M. and Stamp, G. (1981) Lutyens, the Work of the English Architect Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944): Hayward Gallery London, 18 November 1981-31 January 1982. London: Arts Council of Great Britain. Inskip, P. (1986) Edwin Lutyens: Architectural Monographs 6. 2nd edn. London: Academy Editions.

Also Cited In

Edwards, B. (1996) Goddards: Sir Edwin Lutyens. London: Phaidon.

COUNTRY HOMES: GODDARDS, ABINGER COMMON, SURREY. A HOME OF REST. 1904. Country Life (Archive : 1901 – 2005), 15(369), pp. 162-168.

Listing Grade


Listing Reference

1000445 1319459


Edward Hudson