DescriptionDescribed by Pevsner as ‘the aesthetically most satisfactory and socially most successful of all twentieth-century garden suburbs’, Hampstead Garden Suburb was the creation of the Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust which was chiefly inspired by Dame Henrietta Barnett. Lutyens was asked by the Trust’s chairman, Alfred Lyttleton (for whom he built Greywalls and Wittersham) to design the central buildings and work with Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin, the architects and planners of the Suburb. He designed the Anglican and Free Churches, the vicarage and manse, the Northwest wing of the Institute, and house on the West side of Erskine Hill and North Square. Lutyens’s work influenced the whole project; his idea of a little hill-top town, where roofs predominate and house are built of small silver grey bricks with red dressings, gives the whole suburb a consistent framework.
He was determined that the centre of the suburb should have a strong urban and architectural quality. Preliminary drawings show a church with a portico and high tower forming a central part of a square of arcaded buildings, with the links to the church taking the form of triumphal arches. The scheme was not fully realized, and the centre of the suburb suffers from too much open space around Lutyens’s buildings. St. Jude’s Church has a great roof broken by tall dormers of aedicular form and a spire grows out of a square base through an octagon to the sixteen sided shaft. This rich geometry produces a creative discord between the Baroque and the Medieval which is at its most extreme in the interior where tunnel and dome vaults meet the open timber roofs of the aisles. Lutyens described this church in a letter to Herbert Baker in 1910 as ‘a gathering up of all that men can do’, and Pevsner regards is as, ‘one of Lutyens’s most successful buildings’. The Free Church is a variation of similar themes but has a dome instead of a spire. The Institute building shows Lutyens in a vert Wren-like mood. It is beautifully detailed and restrained. Lutyens had difficulties at Hampstead, he did not care for organized ‘do-goodery’ and felt that Dame Henrietta Barnett had little appreciation of architecture. ‘A nice woman but proud of being a philistine – has no idea much beyond a window box fill of geraniums, calceolarias and lobelias, over which you see a goose on a green’. (Letter to H. Baker, 1909) (Amery et al, 1981, Cat no.176)
BibliographyAmery, 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.
Also Cited InCherry B & Pevsner N (1998) LONDON 4: NORTH. The Buildings of England. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Weaver, L. (1913) Houses and Gardens by E L Lutyens. London: Country Life.
Gradidge, R. (1982) Edwin Lutyens: Architect Laureate. London: Allen & Unwin.
W, 1909. THE LESSER COUNTRY HOUSES OF TO-DAY: ARCHITECTURE AT THE HAMPSTEAD GARDEN SUBURB–I. Country Life (Archive : 1901 – 2005), 26(664), pp. xlii, xliv, xlvi, xlviii.
W, 1909. THE LESSER COUNTRY HOUSES OF TO-DAY: ARCHITECTURE AT THE HAMPSTEAD GARDEN SUBURB–II. Country Life (Archive : 1901 – 2005), 26(665), pp. xlviii, l, lii.
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