Sea Lane House
East Preston, West Sussex


Architect: Marcel Breuer

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Sea Lane House is renowned for being the only house in Britain to have been wholly designed by the great Bauhaus-trained architect and designer Marcel Breuer. As one of the most distinguished examples of 20th century architecture on the South Coast it has been Grade II listed. It was designed as a 6-bedroom house in 1936, whilst Breuer was working in collaboration with the British architect F.R.S. Yorke. The house has been owned by the same family since the 1940s and remains largely unaltered from the original designs. Many original features remain, however it is now in need of some updating.

Accommodation at the house includes a bedroom wing raised on concrete columns, a first floor living room with an open fireplace, a dining room with access to a sun terrace and garden, and a ground floor kitchen with a larder and utility room. Breuer and Yorke always intended there to be the possibility of one of the bedrooms being used as a second reception room or study. The house is surrounded by gardens (including a vegetable garden) on a corner plot straddling the prestigious Kingston Gorse and West Kingston Estates. There are two garages and driveways that provide further parking.

Marcel Breuer (1902-1981) is widely recognised as one of the most important Modern architects and designers of the twentieth century. Born in Hungary, he was one of the most successful graduates of the famous Bauhaus in Germany, a radical school for the creative arts that is frequently referred to as the birthplace of Modernism. Breuer left Germany in the 1930s due to the rise of the Nazi party, moving to London for two years (during which time he designed Sea Lane House) then on to the United States, where he spent the rest of life and where he designed such celebrated buildings as the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. For more information in the history of Sea Lane House and Marcel Breuer see the HISTORY section.

The house is set in a tranquil location approx 50m from the sea on two private estates with no through traffic. The local shops of East Preston are a 15 min walk away. Rustington, three miles away, offers a more extensive range of facilities. Angmering train station is only 2 miles away and runs services to London Victoria and London Bridge. Worthing, Arundel, Chichester and Brighton are within short driving distance of the house. Littlehampton is also close by, which offers facilities for sailing and also the architecturally acclaimed East Beach Café, designed by Thomas Heatherwick. London is approximately 60 miles away by car.


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.



Sea Lane House was perhaps one of the two most important achievements of Breuer’s fruitful stay in Britain between 1935 and 1937, the other being his design for the Isokon Long Chair.

.An innovative and inventive house, it is constructed of brick and reinforced concrete. F.R.S. Yorke, with whom Breuer worked at the time, described it in an article published in the 1930s as “a seaside house for contemporary living… that owes… nothing to period mannerisms”. He went on to outlined a key innovative feature – the accommodation built on columns that ensure sea views from the bedrooms and “allows open space under the bedroom wing… [that] can be made into a lawn”.

Perhaps the most exciting architectural feature of the house is the graceful curving sun terrace on a column support – a design that shows a shift by Breuer away from the more rigid early Modernism towards a more expressive style. Other features that remain today include a large framed north window with 72 glazed panels, a working dumb waiter and internal bell system

The house was originally commissioned for a plantation owner, James Macnabb, who is thought to have never occupied it (due, in part, to the outbreak of World War II in 1939). In 1943, it was bought by Richard Papelian, an engineer and celebrated figure within the automotive industry (he is perhaps best known for introducing windscreen wipers and car radios to Britain). Papelain fell in love with Sea Lane House thanks to what he called its “technical excellence’” and lived there until his death in 1986, taking careful care of it throughout his life. Papelian’s family still owns the house.

Sea Lane House is the only surviving pre-War building in Europe by Breuer. It is also considered the best-preserved example of Breuer’s early architectural work anywhere in the world.


Born in Pécs, Hungary in 1902, Marcel Breuer briefly studied art in Vienna before joining the Bauhaus in the 1920s. First a student and then a teacher, he became head of the celebrated furniture workshop.

On leaving the Bauhaus, Breuer practised as an architect in Berlin before fleeing the Nazi regime and moving to London in 1935, where he stayed for two years. In 1939 he was invited by Walter Gropius (the founder of the Bauhaus and former teacher of Breuer) to work at Harvard University. At Harvard, Breuer taught pupils who went on to become some of America’s celebrated architects including Philip Johnson, Paul Rudolph and I.M. Pei.

In America, Breuer initially worked in an architecture practice with Gropius before forming his own firm with offices in New York and Paris. Breuer produced numerous important buildings before his death in 1981 including the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

N.B. An extensive and attractive archive of material relating to the history of the house will be made available to any buyer.


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