New Farm near Great Dunmow was designed by Walter 'Pink' Crittall, and it's not hard to see how he got his nickname.
When you think of Art Deco, the mind easily wanders to the shores of Miami Beach in the US. White sand, blue sea, beautiful people on roller skates, convertible cars, things of that nature. As a result, when an Art Deco building is encountered in England, it can seem a little jarring. You recognise the building, those typical features of the style, but the setting seems slightly off. Where are the beautiful people and the roller blades? All I see before me is irritated Londoners marching to and from their workplaces.
It’s even more unusual to find an Art Deco building in the countryside. Those curves, those windows seem most unusual among the greens and browns of the British countryside, occupying a liminal space in our understanding of what should be built where. However, this is no criticism of Art Deco at all, a most pleasing architectural style.
One such example would be splendid New Farm, which was designed and built in the 1930s by Walter Crittall, the son of Frances Crittall, founder of the famous metal-window manufacturers based in nearby Braintree, who joined the family business after a stint at St John’s Wood Art School in London. Widely known as Walter ‘Pink’ Crittall, he worked as an architect, furniture designer and artist and was the firm’s technical director. Listed at a guide price of £1.65m with Strutt and Parker, this Grade II-listed Art Deco country house is two miles north of Great Dunmow, seven miles from Stansted airport and railway station and 45 miles from central London via the M11.
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As an architect, Crittall was a champion of the Modernist movement and, for years, ideas of what his own house might look like appeared in sketches in his notebook. Finally, in 1934, working in collaboration with Messrs Joseph Architects and with input from Sir Owen Williams, he built New Farm, which has changed little since that time, apart from some upgrading and modernisation carried out by the current owners, whose family home it has been for the past 30 years.
Many original design features remain, including the oriental wallpaper downstairs, Crittall windows and the flag that still flutters bravely above the roof-terrace garden and parapet of the main house. In all, the house offers 4,816sq ft of colourful living space, including five reception rooms, a study, kitchen, six bedrooms and four bathrooms. The property’s secluded grounds of a little more than 6½ acres also remain true to their 1930s design, with high beech hedging, swathes of lawn, wild garden, woodland areas and two ponds.
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