The Kitchen at Castle Drogo, Devon, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. The room was provided with a Soane-style top-lit pendentive dome, echoed by the circular beechwood preparation table below. ©National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert
If you are looking for some winter-time reading matter you could do worse than get Elizabeth Wilhide’s book about the interiors of the great Edwardian architect Sir Edwin Lutyens.
Detail of the Lutyens-designed lift door at Castle Drogo. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond
It zooms in on the architectural and decorative details Lutyens excelled in.
Brass taps mounted on a teak sink, next to a granite window surround, in the Butler’s Pantry at Castle Drogo. ©National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert
As with the buildings of Sir John Soane, you get a palpable sense of Lutyens’s enjoyment in solving the puzzles of volume, light and flow. The visual puns, references and juxtapositions draw you into the architectural game and invite you into Lutyens’s mind.
The Butler’s Pantry at Castle Drogo, with its Lutyens-designed fittings. ©National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert
Some elements of his buildings are just plain beautiful, as when he foregrounds interesting materials and contrasts.
Detail of a granite door frame on the Main Stairs at Castle Drogo. ©National Trust
In the introduction to the book Candia Lutyens, the architect’s granddaughter, mentions how unpopular Lutyens was in the middle of the twentieth century, as his eclectic and referential style was out of synch with the purity of high modernism.
The main stairs at Castle Drogo. ©National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert
I can still remember having a slightly dubious reaction to Lutyens’s work when first encountering it, being then an earnest young devotee of modern art. His work seemed almost too beautiful, too harmonious.
One of the shallow domes in the ceiling of the Main Staircase at Castle Drogo. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond
But now that modernism is increasingly recognised as being just another historical style rather than the end of history we are in a better position to appreciate Lutyens’s intelligent historicism.
And I have just learned that, by complete coincidence, Adrian Colston has also just featured the interiors and exteriors of Lutyens-designed Castle Drogo on his Dartmoor blog, with his own fascinating photographs.