Architect: Messrs Joseph & Sir Owen Williams
This very impressive 6-bedroom house, set amongst wonderful grounds of approximately five acres, was built as the country residence of W. F. Crittall, the Technical Director of the celebrated Crittall Metal Window Company in 1934. It is Grade II listed in recognition of its architectural importance and remains remarkably true to the original Modern design to this day. It borders on farmland in the Essex village of Great Easton, near the popular town of Great Dunmow.
The principal accommodation is arranged over two floors of the main house, with a number of outbuildings providing further accommodation and space that could be utilised in a number of ways.
The front door is reached via a glazed atrium and leads into a hallway, a space with a wonderful star-patterned wood floor and glazed doors that open out onto the terrace and gardens beyond.To the west side of the hallway are two reception rooms, as well as a shower room. The main reception room is a magnificent, generously-sized space that still has the original 1930s wallpaper, door handles and a number of other notable features. The second reception is a smaller, more private space.
To the east of the hallway is a delightful octagonal dining room which connects to the kitchen via a hatch. There is a larder and pantry on either side of the kitchen as well as a study beside the dining room. Also on this floor is an annexe overlooking the garden, a versatile space that could be used as a bedroom, a studio or home office. Built in 1956, this space has a separate entrance and could be used as a self-contained unit.
The staircase, which is one of the most exciting features of the house, is encased in a glazed tower that shows off the Crittall windows. From the ground floor the stairs lead to a landing on the first floor off which there are six bedrooms. The master bedroom is a large room overlooking the gardens and with access on to a balcony. It has a small en suite bathroom. There are also two family bathrooms and a laundry room, with original cupboards, on this floor.
The steps then lead up to a boiler room and on to the flat roof, from which there are magnificent countryside views.
The principal outbuilding was originally designed as an art studio and now incorporates a bedroom and bathroom. The space has floor to ceiling glazed windows and adjoins a double garage. On the other side of the garage are storage rooms arranged over two floors. There are two further outbuildings in the grounds.
The gardens are one the main attractions of the property and have been kept much in the way that the Crittalls, who were keen gardening enthusiasts, originally laid them out. They incorporate more formal areas closer to the house with a paddock, two orchards and vegetable garden a little further away. There is also a tennis court (not currently in use), a badminton garden and a laundry garden. The current owner estimates that the ground are approximately five acres in size.
W. F. Crittall, best known as ‘Pink’, was the second son of Francis Henry Crittall, the founder of the window company. Pink was to be the main artistic and technical driving force of the firm during its most successful period and he is thought to have contributed greatly to the design of the house at Great Easton. He collaborated with the London firm Messrs Joseph to execute the designs and also had significant input from the eminent architect Sir Owen Williams, with whom he had a long professional history. The key contribution from Williams, who is best known for such ambitious schemes as the Boots building in Nottingham and ‘Spaghetti Junction’, was the steel reinforced concrete balcony.
Great Easton is a small village close to Great Dunmow. It has a popular pub, The Swan, and many architecturally significant buildings besides the Crittall residence including a Norman church and numerous 15th century houses. Great Dunmow is an historic market town with an excellent range of eating and shopping opportunities. Further afield there are more services at Bishop’s Stortford and Chelmsford. Stansted airport is nearby and offers flights across Europe as well as a fast train service into London Liverpool Street (45 minutes journey time). Cambridge is also easily reached by rail from Stansted or Bishop’s Stortford and is under an hour’s drive away.
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.
The house at Great Easton is noted in the celebrated Pevsner Architectural Guide as one of the most noteworthy in Essex. Pevner describes:
Messrs Joseph for W.F. Crittall, were responsible for much of the design of the house, its interior, and gardens. In the Modern Cubist style, although the layout, particularly the symmetrical garden front, and the continued provision for servants, remains traditional. So too, the materials: brick, surprisingly painted pink, the Crittall windows, and other metalwork originally painted emerald green. The entrance front’s striking feature is the central polygonal three-storey tower, with ground-floor porch and staircase landings above, composed of Crittall windows.
Across three bays of the five-bay garden front a cantilevered concrete balcony, inset with glass disks to light the terrace below, by Sir Owen Williams. On the house’s East side a single-storey block added after Crittall’s death in 1956, and on the East side of the entrance courtyard an original range of garages and studio, with wooden doors and weatherbaoarding, another traditional element.
Largely unaltered interiors including staircase with red emamelled handrail and glass balls on the newels. Metal doorframes, skirtings, and picture rails. Many rooms still have their original Chinese wallpaper. Furniture made for the house by E.W. Beckwith has mostly been dispersed.
West of the house a C16 thatched and weatherboarded barn (now a house) moved by Crittall from Clare, Suffolk. Beyond it, a single storey pantiled cottage built by Crittall. Another barn Southeast of the house came from Writtle.