by Dearbhail Keating
Each year the Lutyens Trust spend a week at the wonderful Goddards in Surrey. Earlier this month we were very fortunate to be invited to spend three days with them. Built by Edwin Lutyens between 1898 and 1900, Goddards is considered by many to be one of his finest works. Arriving at Goddards on a beautiful summer’s evening was very special, the famous Lutyens chimneys peeping over the hedges made for a spectacular welcome. After three months on the road the prospect of being in one place for three nights was bliss (something I think any SPAB Scholar will relate to)!
First stop after a tour around the house was the skittles alley. Goddards was originally built as a holiday retreat for ladies of small means and this was funded by Frederick Mirrielees, Lutyens’ client, who set up a charity in his own name to support the building. As British summers are not always kind, areas for inside entertainment were incorporated into the design. A games gallery (which has subsequently been converted into bedrooms and bathrooms) and skittles alley were the amusements of choice. It took a good few games before any of us managed a strike but this gave us plenty of time to appreciate the meticulous attention to detail throughout the house, from latches to the doorbell to the skittles themselves – everything is a fine example of talented craftspeople and a credit to Lutyens who made time to consider every detail.
Goddards is now ran by the Landmark Trust on a long lease from the Lutyens Trust and is available to rent as a holiday let. The skittles alley is still periodically open to the local community as it was in the past. Throughout the stay there was a real feeling of the building being alive with activity and people which is so refreshing when in so many buildings nowadays (and some understandably so) you are forced to ‘walk between the red ropes’.
During our stay we spent time at Chinthurst Hill, another of Lutyens’ designs where again he collaborated with Jeckyll. The house is much larger than Goddards and designed to quite a different brief. Standing in front of it and being told Lutyens designed it in his mid twenties certainly made the whole spectacle even more impressive. Chinthurst was split into three houses over its history and only recently the current owner has returned it to a single dwelling and is currently carrying out a lot of work to the gardens replanting them to Jeckyll’s original design. The long walk is an example of where this has been very successful. Before making tracks we scoured the outbuildings to find the croquet set to ensure we had the full ‘Goddards experience’ – after a few games and me consistently losing we decided a league table would be established and the overall victor awarded at the end of the Scholarship! (Croquet photo) A very enjoyable few days, a very relaxing few days and a very inspiring few days. Huge thanks to the Lutyens Trust for their kind hospitality.