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A Grade II* Listed Building in Sutton Abinger, Surrey

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Latitude: 51.1972 / 51°11'50"N

Longitude: -0.4274 / 0°25'38"W

OS Eastings: 509976

OS Northings: 145398

OS Grid: TQ099453

Mapcode National: GBR GFG.SWN

Mapcode Global: VHFVX.J5XJ

Entry Name: Usherwood

Listing Date: 17 October 2008

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1392952

English Heritage Legacy ID: 505013

Location: Shere, Guildford, Surrey, RH5

County: Surrey

District: Guildford

Civil Parish: Shere

Built-Up Area: Sutton Abinger

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Surrey

Church of England Parish: Shere

Church of England Diocese: Guildford

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Listing Text


431/0/10041 SUTTON PLACE
17-OCT-08 Usherwood

Detached single storey house. Designs by Basil Ward and Amyas Douglas Connell dated May 1934 and built between 1934-6. The client was Tom Usherwood, a commercial artist who was a friend of Basil Ward. Moderne style. The builders are thought to have been the firm of B Radford of London.

MATERIALS: Constructed of four inch internally insulated concrete walls and slab ceilings on raft foundations. Experimentally the blocks were cast to coincide with the 'celotex' boards of the insulation. The casement windows were of mild steel, specially ordered from the Lion Works at Guildford.

PLAN: A rectangle with a large projecting bay window to the west, a smaller taller semi-circular stair tower to the north side leading to a flat sunroof with a part concrete canopy and with a rectangular garage block attached at the north east corner. Internally it comprises one large living room and kitchen to the north and two bedrooms divided by a bathroom to the south.

EXTERIOR: The north or entrance front has a semi-circular staircase tower which projects several feet above the roof parapet and has an attached flat concrete canopy to the sun roof with glazed wind screen to the north. The staircase tower is also linked to a flat concrete canopy attached further east to the main entrance. The doorcase is set back with horizontally glazed door and to the east are three small vertically placed porthole windows. The flat-roofed garage attached at the north eastern corner has a west wall of opaque glass tiles. The western part of the north elevation slopes down and reveals part of the large curved living room bay window. The western elevation comprises the curved bay which has a door with horizontal glazing bars facing south and part of the parapet above has metal balustrading. To the south is the projecting bedroom block. This is symmetrical with a small central four-light bathroom casement flanked by small porthole windows and at the ends wraparound casement windows of four lights. The east elevation has a low wide kitchen window of six lights and adjoining half-glazed door. The projecting garage to the north has a five-light window and plank door in the south return.

INTERIOR: A small vestibule leads to a large open plan room comprising lounge to the west, dining area to the centre and kitchen to the east. To the south west is a brick fireplace with tiled top, built-in bookcase and projecting flue. The lounge area retains two original radiators and between the kitchen and the dining area is a large curved radiator. A south internal door is flush-panelled with a circular cut out. The living room has ceiling tiles, wallpaper and wooden panelling added in the later C20 and the kitchen was also refitted at that time. To the west is the bedroom block which has a small vestibule with walls lined with cork in the later C20 and original flush doors. Each bedroom retains the original full-height built-in wardrobe although wooden veneer was later applied to the doors. The wooden wall panelling and ceiling tiles were also added in the later C20. The original bathroom fittings have been replaced. The staircase tower retains the original staircase with solid balustrading.

HISTORY: This was the last building to be designed by Basil Ward and Amyas Connell befrore Colin Lucas joined the firm. The house, designed in May 1934, was not completed until 1936 for a number of reasons. There was some wrangling over the supply of services as this was the first house on a new site remote from the nearest road. Also the firm had a number of commissions in 1934, at Hayling Island, Saltdean, Ruislip and Amersham, and, perhaps as a result, they used a different building firm from usual, thought to be B Radford of London. There were problems with the shuttering work to the roof canopy on the sun roof. The concrete walls were cast in four inch blocks which experimentally coincided with the 'celotex' boards of the insulation. This resulted in water penetration, later cured by pointing with aggregate. Experimental detail also included taking the water pipes from the central heating coke boiler up the kitchen wall and under a hole in the ceiling below the water tank on the roof to deter freezing. The windows were of mild steel, specially ordered from the Lion Works in Guildford and the supporting hollow columns on the staircase and bow windows rested on mild steel plates over the concrete cills. The provision of only two bedrooms led to the client later building a small wooden pre-fabricated house in the garden to accommodate visitors.

* It is an externally unaltered 1934-6 Moderne style single storey house with sun roof designed by Basil Ward and Amyas Connell who, together with Colin Lucas, formed the most important architectural practice designing Modern Movement houses between 1930-9. It is the only single storey house and the only known house by this firm with a semi-circular glazed staircase tower.
* The interior retains the original staircase, fireplace with built-in bookcase, radiators, internal doors and two built-in wardrobes.
* The plan form of open plan kitchen, dining area and lounge, two bedrooms and staircase tower leading to sun roof with part canopy survives intact.
* A pioneering system of four inch concrete blocks was used which, in this building's construction, was aligned with the insulating boards. Not even Le Corbusier used this technique.
* It compares well with other Grade II* properties by the firm of Connell, Ward and Lucas for intactness, lack of extensions and early date.

D Thistlewood and E Heeley, 'Connell, Ward and Lucas: Towards a complex critique' in Journal of Architecture Volume 2 Spring 1997, pp83-101, esp. p93
E Heely, Chapter on Usherwood from his unpublished manuscript 'Free Style Modernism: the architecture of Connell, Ward and Lucas'
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry for Amyas Douglas Connell

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