Architect: Amyas Connell

Grayswood
Haslemere, Surrey

£1,550,000
Freehold

New

This house, located in the pretty Surrey village of Grayswood near Haslemere, is one of the most remarkable and admired in the history of British architecture, a fact reflected in its rare Grade II* listing. It is set amongst wonderful grounds and although it has been much loved by the current owners it is now in need of updating.

A substantial five / six bedroom house, surrounded by approximately 4.5 acres of land, it was originally built for the noted accountant Sir Arthur Lowes Dickinson in 1931-33. It was designed by Amyas Connell, a pioneering New Zealander who settled in London and formed, alongside Basil Ward and Colin Lucas, one of the most important British architecture practices of the 20th Century, Connell, Ward & Lucas.

The house remains remarkably true to Connell’s original scheme, a design that priorities quality of light and space. It was refurbished by the leading specialists in Modern houses, Avanti Architects, in 1993 and has always been occupied by enthusiastic and considerate owners.

Accommodation on the ground floor includes a wonderful living room that fills with light thanks to a ribbon of windows that runs along two sides. There is also a dining room, which features the original sculptural fireplace, a breakfast room and second reception room / studio. The latter space is the only part of the house that was not part of Connell’s original scheme and there is a possibility, subject to the usual permissions, that this could be replaced and used to house a larger kitchen / dining room. The current kitchen is reached via a small set of steps that also lead on to a ground floor study.

A magnificent stairway, encased in glass, leads to the first floor (and roof garden beyond). Here there is master bedroom with ensuite bathroom and similar ribbon of windows as can be found in the living room. Four further bedrooms and two bathrooms occupy the rest of the floor.

The entire roof space is devoted to an amazing roof garden, which has hosted many wonderful parties over the years. There is also a large garage and office / games room situated beside the house.

The grounds (approximately 12 acres) are formed of areas of formal garden which remain true to the original landscaping (including a beautiful concrete bench), expanses of flat lawn, orchard, woodland and a large paddock. A sweeping drive lead leads to the house from the road that runs through the village of Grayswood.

Grayswood is an attractive Surrey village, just north of the popular town of Haslemere. It has a well-regarded village school, a cricket green, garage and pub, The Wheatsheaf Inn. Haslemere is a thriving town with a Waitrose and many other specialist shops as well as pubs, restaurants and a range of schools.

The train station at Haslemere runs a frequent service to London Waterloo in under an hour. There are alternative services from Witley Station. By road there is access to the A3 at Milford which provides a road link to London and the south coast and via the M25 to both Heathrow and Gatwick Airport.

Please note that there is an additional seven acres available by separate negotiation.

Please note that all areas, measurements and distances given in these particulars are approximate and rounded. The text, photographs and floor plans are for general guidance only. The Modern House has not tested any services, appliances or specific fittings — prospective purchasers are advised to inspect the property themselves. All fixtures, fittings and furniture not specifically itemised within these particulars are deemed removable by the vendor.


History

This house, known as ‘Pollard’ at the time of construction in 1932, was widely published and admired when it was first seen. The shock of the new was not quite as strong as it had been with the unveiling Connell’s previous house, the spectacular High & Over in Amersham (sold by The Modern House in 2011), but it still provoked a passionate reaction.

Typical of the coverage was this commentary by Raymond McGrath in his popular book ‘Twentieth Century Houses’ published by Faber & Faber in 1934:

“Viewed from the air, viewed from any angle some judges say, Pollard is more like an invention by Picasso than a house. However if there is any sense – and there certainly is – in Corbusier’s argument that ‘the plan is the first cause; without a plan there is no order, no law’, then there is much to be said for the direction the architect has taken in his design. It is a plan full of thought, not limited by the old ideas of balance.”

Today the house is still extensively written about and discussed. In their book, ‘Connell, Ward & Lucas’, Dennis Sharp and Sally Rendel have written that “Connell’s work did not sing in such an exuberant way” as it did with this house.

Sharp and Rendel also point out that whilst the black and white photographs from the 1930s suggest that the house was always white, it was in fact “blush pink set against leaf green windows”. The windows are, of course, a great feature of the house which is why the celebrated window company, Crittall, used an image of it for one of their widely-spread adverts, as can be seen above.

It is interesting to note that the house was designed for an accountant in his seventies, not the type of client you would expect to commission a radical young architect. Sir Arthur Lowes Dickinson was something of a radical himself, however, as it was he that led the way in abolishing what were then opaque accountancy practises of large corporations and developing consolidated accounting. He was also the son of a well-known Victorian painter, Lowes Cato Dickinson, and his grandfather is said to have discovered Charlotte Bronte. He was not therefore, a typical accountant, and it is no surprise that he admired the artistry of Connell’s exuberant architecture.


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Amyas Connell

Born in New Zealand, Amyas Connell (1901-80) arrived in Europe in the 1920s to study in Rome.   In 1925 he visited Paris where he was inspired by the work of Le Corbusier; his colleague Basil Ward commented that “his work stirred us greatly, so clear was it in its intention and so uncompromising in its execution.” Connell’s first residential project in England was High & Over, a country house in Buckinghamshire. The modern building with minimal decoration helped to compound his reputation. In 1933 he formed a partnership with Ward and Colin Lucas, which lasted until 1939: the three worked separately on various projects and in 1964 were awarded a RIBA Bronze Medal.

Key Residential Projects
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