In 1911, Surrey master builder W. G. Tarrant bought 964 acres of land on St George?s Hill, Weybridge, from the Egerton family, and set about planning his ideal residential estate, where wealthy professionals and captains of industry could enjoy peace and privacy in surroundings of natural beauty. Facilities for sport and exercise were an essential element of Tarrant?s vision, and he immediately commissioned golf course designer H. S. Colt to create a private 18-hole course on the estate.
In April 1912, Tarrant published a book of articles extolling the attractions of St George?s Hill, with plans for 20 grand houses designed by a number of architects. The concept proved an immediate winner, and prosperous city businessmen rolled up in their Rolls Royces to choose the most prominent and best protected sites. It was a successful formula which Tarrant was to repeat post World War I, both on St George?s Hill and the Wentworth estate at Virginia Water, before demand for large expensive houses was curtailed by the onset of the Depression in 1929.
In The Buildings of England, compiled in the 1950s and 1960s, Sir Nikolaus Pevsner refers, somewhat sniffily, to St George?s Hill as ?another example of the Surrey speciality: the high income suburban estate where houses are completely lost in landscape?. Yet this is precisely what draws today?s high rollers to live on the Hill, and the few surviving ?complete and hidden? houses now command considerable premiums. The ?comfortably tile hung? Lake House on Golf Road rated by Pevsner as ?one of the two best houses? on St George?s Hill is one of these. The other was Hamstone House.
Originally known as Coney Warren, then Bahar House, Lake House was built in 1914 for the war correspondent Francis Prevost Battersby by the architects Imrie & Angell, designers of the Royal Horticultural Society buildings at Wisley and the Arts and Crafts gardens at Tusmore House, Oxfordshire.
During his eight year tenure, the present owner of Lake House, whose father also lived on St George?s Hill for many years, has painstakingly restored and renovated the pristine, 13,000sq ft, three storey main house, with its four reception rooms, seven bedroom suites, cottage (which can be purchased separately), coach house, and three acres of spectacular gardens and grounds overlooking the golf course. But now it is time to move on, and Lake House is for sale through Knight Frank (01372 464496) and Savills (020?7499 8644)
at a guide price of £6.25 million.
St George?s Hill has seen its fortunes wax and wane over the years, and many of the original Tarrant houses have been demolished and their splendid.
This article was originally published in Country Life magazine, February 2, 2005.
For more on property, architecture, the arts and the countryside subscribe to Country Life magazine