From Cottage to Cathedral : The Work of Sir Edward Lutyens, OM, with Stuart Martin

During Sir Edwin Lutyens' (1869-1944) long career, he designed more than 550 buildings, more than any other English architect, including Wren.


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Starting young (he received his first commission at the age of 20) he progressed from designing small cottages in late Victorian style to synthesising his own lucid and streamlined version of vernacular architecture which he employed for the string of gorgeous houses for which he is best known.

He began his own practice in 1888, his first commission being a private house at Crooksbury, Farnham, Surrey. During this work, he met the garden designer and horticulturalist Gertrude Jekyll. In 1896 he began work on a house for Jekyll at Munstead Wood, Godalming, Surrey. It was the beginning of a professional partnership that would define the look of many Lutyens country houses. The work they did together produced many of the best loved houses and gardens in England, including Hestercombe Gardens here in Somerset.

But alongside this process something else happened: always interested in the geometry of architecture, Lutyens became increasingly interested in Classical concepts of design. Developing his own idiosyncratic version of ‘Wrenaissance’ in the years after 1900, Lutyens was given the greatest job of the age in 1912 with the commission for New Delhi. In this, and his work for the War Graves Commission, including the Cenotaph, in the years during and after World War I, Lutyens further refined his classical approach, synthesising what Hussey called his “Elemental Mode”, which can be seen as a prototype for a modern classicism.


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Stuart Martin

Stuart trained at Nottingham School of Architecture, qualifying in 1992. He worked for a few years with Jeremy Benson and Peregrine Bryant before moving to Dorset to work alongside St Blaise. Initially based in conservation and traditional building repair, Stuart’s practice has evolved toward the design of new houses that employ traditional materials combined with contemporary energy efficient technology.

Stuart’s interest in Lutyens was sparked at University, where he saw Patrick Nuttgens’ 1981 film ‘Last Architect of the Age of Humanism’. He has written a thesis examining Lutyens’ classical architecture, and is a Committee member of the Lutyens Trust.

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Stuart says:

'I have looked at Lutyens buildings since University; cycling around Surrey (as he did), seeking them out in the Quantocks, working on them in the Mendips, staying in them in Ireland and admiring them in India. I have led tours for the Lutyens Trust. The Lutyens Trust exists to protect the spirit and substance of Lutyens' buildings and works to protect his legacy everywhere. We are always looking for new members!'

2012Martin Keeley