DescriptionAt Little Thakeham, the house which he himself thought ‘the best of the bunch’ Lutyens transition from vernacular to classicism is clearly seen. It evokes an Elizabethan manor house, with an H-shaped plan and symmetrical elevations. He had been excited by the Elizabethan Mapledurham House in 1898 – particularly by ‘its character of simple sublimity’, and its plan. The Hall inside is quite unexpectedly classical and brilliantly manipulated spatially. A large double-height space is divided by a screens passage with paired doorways. On one side, the hall proper, is the high bay window and fireplace with balcony and door above; on the other the staircase rises first up to a half-landing balcony overlooking the hall and then turns to go up to the principal bedroom. The whole room is lined, up to two-thirds of its height, with worn Sussex stone contrasted with the flat white plaster of the ceiling. Nicholas Taylor has often said that the Hall is ‘exterior’ architecture. Its balconies are very like those on the terrace at Heathcote, which in their case, seem to have wandered outside the building. The actual style of the Hall is hard to classify. It has been called many things: ‘French Mannerist’, ‘Baroque’, ‘Mantuan’. The door surrounds, however with their rustication and curved pediments, come straight from Batty Langley. The ‘Mannerist’ element is Lutyens’s own form of ‘higher game’. (Amery et al., 1981, cat no.134)
The private drive approaching Little Thakeham is treated like a country lane from which the Tudor-style house is protected by a walled forecourt. Within, a quasi-Elizabethan great hall is entered via a screened passage treated as a fragment of a space. This screen also conceals the lower flights of the staircase, whose landing emerges as a gallery above the entrance passage and continues in stages to the door of the main bedroom.
Both in detailing and furnishing, the hall contrasts the grand and the humble. It is virtually independent of the exterior, its volume concealed behind a blank elevation through which only the oriel window declares the double-height space within. (Inskip, 1979, p.48)
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. Inskip, P. (1986) Edwin Lutyens: Architectural Monographs 6>. 2nd edn. London: Academy Editions.
Also Cited InGradidge, R. (1982) Edwin Lutyens: Architect Laureate. London: Allen & Unwin.
Weaver, L. (1913) Houses and Gardens by E L Lutyens. London: Country Life.
Williamson E, Hudson T, Musson J, Nairn I (2019) Sussex: West. The Buildings of England. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Butler, A., 1950. The architecture of Sir Edwin Lutyens: the Lutyens memorial series. Vol 1: Country Houses, Country Life: London and Scibners: New York.
T, 1909. COUNTRY HOMES GARDENS OLD&NEW: LITTLE THAKEHAM, SUSSEX, THE RESIDENCE OF … MR. E. M. BLACKBURN. Country Life (Archive : 1901 – 2005), 26(660), pp. 292-299.
ClientErnest M “Tom” Blackburn