Architect: Patty Hopkins
This remarkable five-bedroom house with beautiful gardens can be found in an idyllic rural location surrounded by barley fields, yet is only minutes from the historic Hertfordshire town of Ware which runs train services into London Liverpool Street in just 45 minutes.
The house was designed in 1970 by the celebrated architect Patty Hopkins who, alongside her husband Michael, runs the internationally renowned Hopkins Architects. The pair have the rare honour of being awarded the prestigious RIBA Royal Gold Medal for Architecture. Perhaps best known for their much larger projects such as Portcullis House in Westminster (part of the Parliamentary Estate) and the London Velodrome, Hopkins completed this smaller scale, domestic project for a close family member. For more information on Hopkins and the background to this project see the History section.
The timber frame house stands on the site of former farm workers cottages, some of the structure and timbers of which were retained. The form of the house, including the long pitch of the roof and the timber cladding, give it a traditional appearance yet the layout inside is far more contemporary.
At the heart of the house is a wonderful double height kitchen / dining / living room. This space, with a kitchen designed by Hopkins, has full height and full width glazing along one side looking out onto a terrace and the gardens beyond. A small seating area, with a wood burning stove, can be found at one end of the space.
This room is reached via an entrance hall to the right of which is a garage / storage room which has the potential to be converted to further accommodation. Beyond this room is the main reception room, a generously proportioned space with an open fire and glazed doors leading out onto the terrace.
Also on the ground floor are two bedrooms and a family bathroom, as well as a large utility space.
Stairs lead up from the kitchen area (with the original bannisters that are in keeping with the High Tech style for which Hopkins is best known) to a mezzanine landing. This landing provides a library and study area. The master bedroom, with an en suite bathroom and ample in built storage, is to one side of the landing with another bedroom and family bathroom to the other.
A set of inbuilt steel ladder steps reach the second floor on which can be found another bedroom and playroom (both with limited head height).
The house is surrounded by beautiful gardens and the current owners estimate the plot size to be over four acres (subject to measurement). This is largely lawn but also includes an area of woodland, two ponds and planted borders. There is a wonderful array of plants and trees, including a Chinese handkerchief tree and impressive elms. The gardens mainly border on barley fields and provide a wonderful, picturesque setting all year round.
The property is reached via a unmade track leading off a country road. It was formerly part of the estate of the nearby Morley Hall and is rare oasis of peace which is all too hard to find in such proximity to London.
Ware is under three miles away and provides an excellent range of shops, restaurants and other amenities. For further facilities the larger towns of Hertford and Bishop’s Stortford are close by. The mainline station at Ware runs direct services to London Liverpool Street (with journey times from 42 minutes), whilst Welwyn Garden City (11.5 miles away) runs services to King’s Cross in 28 minutes. London is approximately 25 miles away and can also be easily reached by car via the M11 or A10
Outstanding schools in the immediate area including Heath Mount (3-13 years), Haileybury (11-18 years) and Bishop’s Stortford College (4-18).
This is the first time that the house has been on the market and is being sold by the Hopkins family.
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 near Ware was designed in 1970 by Patty Hopkins (later Lady Hopkins) for the brother of her husband, Michael Hopkins (later Sir Michael Hopkins).
On the site were former farm workers cottages, part of which were retained with this house. To a small extent, therefore, the house is a conversion of the original cottages although later extensions by Hopkins make the original parts only a very small part of the overall building.
This was a very early design by Hopkins, who was in her late ‘20s at the time, but you can still see here themes that would emerge throughout all the later work of Hopkins Architects. Principally there is an interest in clarity of construction and spatial arrangement. It wasn’t much later in the mid-1970s that Michael and Patty designed their famous steel-frame house in Hampstead which at first glance appears to bear little resemblance to the house in Ware but, as Hopkins has said in a recent discussion about the house at Ware, “they both show our strong interest in frame houses”. In other words the frames of the house (in one case timber, in another steel) define the internal space and the overall design. In 1970, Patty and Michael had recently bought a 16th century timber frame farm house in Suffolk and their extensive work on this and investigations into the way it was built largely informed the design of the house at Ware and, perhaps to a lesser extent, their house in Hampstead.
Patty and Michael went on to form Hopkins Architects later in the decade, with the pair being among a powerful group of architects who redefined British architecture at that time. Alongside the likes of Richard Rogers, Norman Foster and Nicholas Grimshaw they became known for what was termed the High Tech style. Although in many senses this was a futuristic approach to architecture, embracing as it did new materials and ideologies, it was also an attempt to get back to the simple, elemental essentials of architecture, as can be seen in the great interest the Hopkins’ had, and continue to have, in timber frames.