From office blocks to war memorials and from cottages to castles, Sir Edwin Lutyens designed every conceivable type of building in his 55-year career. But, thanks largely to his association with Gertrude Jekyll (and Country Life), Lutyens became best-known as a creator of large, expensive, country houses. After his death in 1944, a seance had him still building ?on the other side?, and the writer Vita Sackville-West, for whose mother the architect had done some work in the 1920s, famously commented ?God must be very rich?.
Street House at Thursley, near Godalming, Surrey?a charming, Grade II-listed, Regency village house, for sale through Strutt & Parker (01483 306565) at a guide price of £2.25 million?was not built by Lutyens, but it is central to his story. This was his boyhood family home, and it was here that he first got to know Miss Jekyll, in 1889.
In his book Edwin Lutyens?Country Houses (Aurum Press, 2001), Gavin Stamp points out that ?much of the quality of Lutyens?s architecture was due to his experience of rural Surrey, for he would roam the countryside, looking at old buildings or new ones under construction?Sometimes he would visit the local village carpenter or go to the local builder?s yard in Godalming to see men at work, thereby acquiring the knowledge of building materials and craftsmanship, and awareness of the importance of detail that are so evident in his houses.?
Many of Lutyens?s most successful commissions involved the enlargement or alteration?or both?of an existing house, as in the case of Great Dixter, at Northiam, Sussex, where, in the late 1890s, he restored a 15th-century timber-framed house, adding to it another timber house rescued from Benenden, Kent.
Great Dixter?s owner, Nathaniel Lloyd, was an avid disciple of Lutyens, and the architect?s work at Great Dixter inspired Lloyd to oversee the extension and alteration of a former Elizabethan farmhouse, Prawles, at Ewhurst Green, with some help from his mentor.
Now known as Prawles Court, this most Lutyensesque of houses is on the market through Knight Frank (01892 515035) and Savills (01580 720161) at a guide price of £2m. Listed Grade II, it stands in 26 acres of landscaped gardens and paddocks, with accommodation on three floors, including three reception rooms, a billiard room, an orangery, six main bedrooms, eight secondary bedrooms, and nine bathrooms.
For Robin Archer, the current owner, who bought the house in a ?semi-refurbished? state in 1992, Prawles Court, with its huge rooms and practical layout, embodies the best of Lutyens and the Arts and Crafts movement. ?This is a happy house, which lends itself to family living, and we will be sorry to leave it,? says Mr Archer, for whom the time has come to downsize to something smaller.
Of course, not every Lutyens house was built on such a grand scale: The Coppers at Holmbury St Mary, high in the Surrey hills, was a relatively modest country house built for John Merrylees in 1905. In the 1950s, the house was sub-divided into three, one part of which?a classic, semi-detached, Arts and Crafts cottage known as 1 The Coppers?is for sale through Browns in Cranleigh (01483 267070) at a guide price of £525,000.
It stands in 0.25 of an acre of delightful garden, overlooking open fields, and has two reception rooms, a kitchen/breakfast room, three bedrooms and a family bathroom, plus a garage and a stable-cum-workshop.