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Photographer: Paul Waite

Tigbourne Court

Gazetteer No. G0081

Date 1899

Address Petworth Road Godalming, Surrey GU8 5TU England


Lutyens was only thirty when he designed this, one of his most original houses, for Edgar Horne, M.P. for Guildford and Chairman of the Prudential Assurance Co. Pevsner and Nairn described it as ‘Lutyens’s gayest and most elegant building and probably his best’. The entrance front is U-shaped with two single-storey wings brought forward to end in very tall coupled chimneys flanked by tile-capped curved scree walls. Between these welcoming sentinels the main west facing front elevation has three gables above three slender pedimented windows. The entrance itself is through a Doric loggia – a moment of calm in the heady geometry. Tigbourne’s use of materials is intricately worked out. The whole house is built of Bargate stone, with garreted joints – ironstone chippings inserted into the mortar to strengthen it. Quions are of brick, as are the window mullions, and thin horizontal bands of Roman tiles create colour and line on the façade. Inside, the planning of Tigbourne is more informal than the symmetry of the entrance would suggest. (Amery et al., 1981, cat no. 118)

A symmetrical entrance court facing west leads to an L-shaped plan facing south and east. A billiard room was added in the north-west corner at a later date. From the house a pergola of irregularly spaced and alternating circular and square, brick columns leads into the garden. The sequence of entry court – vestibule – hall is remarkable for the studied symmetry of each asymmetrically entered space. The drawing room symmetry and a major longitudinal axis terminating in a fireplace inglenook beneath an unlit dome.

Walls are of Bargate stone, galletted joints with courses of diagonally laid roof tiles set in the entrance façade. Red tiles are set as voussoirs in gateways and red bricks used in the entrance loggia, chimney-stacks and as window surrounds. (Inskip, 1986 p.32)

TIGBOURNE COURT, ¼ m. further on, is Lutyens’s gayest and most elegant building, and for the front elevation alone among the very best of his houses. It was built in 1899–1901 for Edgar Horne, chairman of the Prudential, who had lived from 1894 at The Hill.* Lutyens had cause to regret Tigbourne Court, as his then technical partner, E. B. Badcock, allowed numerous constructional errors; Horne never occupied it and died in 1905, by when the writer H. Newton Wethered had taken it on. It stands right beside the road, its superb geometry a startling shock in these leafy surroundings. Here the Free Tudor style of Munstead Wood and Orchards is stiffened with a dash of C17 vernacular classicism, a style Lutyens rarely used; for once he was really and unselfconsciously gay, witty instead of facetious. The crispness and panache is like nothing else he built. It could only have been done by a young man – Lutyens was thirty – and perhaps it could only have been done once in a lifetime. The entrance front is U-shaped, with the single-storey wings brought forward into concave-sided ends fronted by immense coupled diagonal chimneys flanked by big inward-curving screen walls that are pierced by side doors below egg-shaped openings. This sets up the liveliest kind of counterpoint to the main block in the centre, which consists of three gables close together above three incredibly thin and elegant cross-windows, all brick and with the straight and segmental pediments floating free. The ground floor is a simple brick-faced loggia behind a stone Doric screen of columns in antis. The texture is the most intricate and carefully worked out of all Lutyens’s early buildings and gives Tigbourne an extraordinarily gentle appearance: Bargate stone, galleted throughout, with brick quoins and thin bands of tiles laid herringbone fashion running across the whole house. There is hardly a better building in England to give an idea of the effect of architectural geometry pure and simple. The prodigious accentuation of the wings has the odd side-effect that, although the front is completely symmetrical, it never seems so because the eye is led away completely by the play of chimneys and screen walls. The back and sides have relatively little to offer after this but the S front, raised on a terrace above green lawn is a classic early Lutyens pairing of gables, with all-brick mullioned-and-transomed windows in diminishing tiers, and round the corner another of his romantic timber and iron bedroom balconies on a brick cove (cf. Crooksbury). At ground floor, double arches for a loggia to the dining room, connected by a timber covered passage to a studio behind the kitchen wing; this may be later but was here by 1905 and seems to be by either Horace Farquharson or C. H. B. Quennell.

The inside planning is as unforcedly happy as the entrance front. The loggia opens into the middle of a long narrow lobby running from side to side across the house. In front of the visitor a glazed octagon in a plain wall hints at the stairwell beyond, reached from one end of the hall in the centre of the S front, panelled in early C18 manner. The stairwell fills the centre of the house, the visitor mounting between walls a few steps at a time, an easy irresistible flow which makes the ninety-degree turns at the top perfectly natural. The idea is an adaptation of Norman Shaw’s 180 Queen’s Gate, Kensington. The N wing contains the kitchen, the S one waywardly contains the barrel-vaulted drawing room, with an astonishing Mannerist termination to the main axis of a pair of fluted Ionic columns carrying a giant open segmental pediment as a frame to a charming semicircular and domed sub-room, or inglenook, with columns flanking the fireplace. A more typically Arts and Crafts bay breaks sideways to the garden. Nairn’s view was that ‘Tigbourne leaves the visitor uncertain whether simply to be profoundly thankful for what is there, or to regret that Lutyens never afterwards came up to this level.’

The gardens, originally by Jekyll, are no longer intact, except for a brick pergola. There is a good cottage (LITTLE LEAT) to the S, at the turning to Hambledon, overlooking a green. Originally the stable, done in the same galleted stone by Lutyens.

* The 2nd edition of Surrey confused Edgar Horne with his son, Sir W. Edgar Horne who lived always at Hall Place, Shackleford (p. 632). Horne senior came to Witley after his second marriage. He seems to have been a more adventurous patron of the arts than his son. (O’Brien et al., 2022, pp.749-50)


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.

O’Brien, C., Nairn, I. and Cherry, B. (2022) Surrey. Pevsner Architectural Guides: Buildings of England. New Haven: Yale University Press.

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



Edgar Horne