Main Image
Photographer: Stuart Martin

Temple Dinsley

Gazetteer No. G0191

Date 1908-11

Address Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG4 7RT England


Lutyens’s work at Temple Dinsley was a reconstruction of a seven-bay 18th century house, which he retained, adding cross wings to the East and West – enlarging it threefold. Henry Medd, who worked for Lutyens and Baker, recalled that the house was much admired by young architects during the period 1910-1920. He remembered going on an Architectural Association outing there, c.1911, and admiring the fine brickwork and proportions of Lutyens’s new extensions. These were in the style of the original house, but the ratio of plain brickwork to window openings was increased – giving a Neo-Georgian effect. (Amery et al., 1981, cat no.172)

A country house of early C18 origin, substantially enlarged by Edwin Lutyens 1908-11, at which time he and Gertrude Jekyll collaborated on the creation of the formal garden around the house. The house and garden are surrounded by C18 parkland…In 1908 Fenwick employed Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944) to enlarge the house substantially and remodel it. At this time Lutyens collaborated with Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) in creating formal gardens to the west and north of the house, providing a further extension to the house in 1911. The house became a school in 1935, in which use it remains (1999). (Historic England, list entry 1000919 )

Manor house, now Princess Helena College for girls, with terraces, steps, walls, railings, gates, pergolas, and garden buildings. ‘1714’ on front rainwater heads, for Benedict Ithell of Chelsea who bought manor 1712, altered and enlarged 1908-9 for H.G. Fenwick (‘1909’ on rainwater heads) by E.L. Lutyens, and further extended to E by him for Fenwick 1911 (the Arches)…Subsequent alterations and extensions for college. Lutyens incorporated the C18 tall 2-storeys stable block to E of main house as a racquets court, subsequently altered to domestic accommodation. Gardens by Gertrude Jekyll 1909-12. Red brick with lighter red dressings, some stone dressings. Older house in Flemish-bond, Lutyens work in English-bond. Steep pitched old red tile roofs, 2 parallel half-hipped roofs over older parts, hipped roofs to Lutyens work. Wrought iron railings and gates to forecourt. York stone paving to terraces and steps and landings of garden staircases and pergolas…

Stone moulded doorcase with entablature and segmental pediment renewed by Lutyens to former pattern (original similar doorcase on N front). Old 8-panelled door. N front similar with urns on corner pilaster, pilaster flanking 8-panel central door with segmental pedimented doorcase, and 7 upper windows. Those to right of centre have 2 very deep stair windows. Large red brick mid C18 canted bay to left of door with flat gauged arches to sash windows, and reserved canted sides. Lutyens added a long 2-storeys wing symmetrically on each side linked by a recessed 2-storeys and attic link with prominent dutch gable to N and S. The form of the gables is a reference to similar gables to the crosswings of the C17 brick house formerly on this site shown in Drapentier’s engraving of c.1700. The link has a large semi-circular window with keystone and triple-sash above 2 segmental tall sash windows, with 3 windows to ground floor on E link but 2 on W link. The height of the wing parapets range with that of the main house and they each have corner pilasters with stone caps and urns to S and N fronts, with 2 storeys and 2 windows wide. Steeper Lutyens hipped roofs have chamfered angles and have been jacked above parapet level, the new elevation tilehung, and dormers inserted over windows below c.1935. The site slopes steeply down to E and Lutyens built a kitchen wing at lower level there with 5 flat topped sash dormer windows. In 1911 he built a nursery extension to E of this with stone arcaded ground floor, Tuscan stone columns within and 3 bays pilastered S elevation with very steep tile roof. This links to the tall 2-storeys C18 former stable block with plinth, plat-band and steep hipped roof adapted by Lutyens and altered to 3-storeys domestic accommodation since. (Historic England, list entry 1307766)


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.

Historic England. TEMPLE DINSLEY. [Online] Available from:


Also Cited In

Bettley J, Pevsner N, Cherry B (2019) Hertfordshire. The Buildings of England. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Gradidge, R. (1982) Edwin Lutyens: Architect Laureate. London: Allen & Unwin.

Weaver, L. (1913) Houses and Gardens by E L Lutyens. London: Country Life.

Aslet, C. (1982) The Last Country Houses. 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.

Lawrence, R. R. (2009) The Book of the Edwardian & Interwar House [2013 ed]. London: Aurum Press.

SULLINGSTEAD,… HASCOMBE, SURREY. 1912. Country Life (Archive : 1901 – 2005), 31(800), pp. axxvii, axxviii, 28, 30, 32.

Listing Grade


Listing Reference

1000919 1307766


H G Fenwick