Sullingstead – now restored, this is one of Lutyens’s most celebrated early country houses, dating from 1897, but best known as a project he returned to with later (1903) additions, famously in an uncompromisingly different style for the music room, changing from half-timbered, tile- hung Surrey vernacular to high -windowed Georgian.
The house, like too many of his works, suffered the collateral damage that inevitably results from many changes of ownership, with consequent alterations diluting the changes made by Sir Edwin himself. The loss, for example, of major chimneys, staircases, fireplaces, main entrance porch and important garden walls, together with the addition of French windows, passageways and numerous outbuildings, has disappointed visitors but the present owner, as well as returning the house to its former character, re-constructing missing chimneys, fireplaces and so on, entailing a good deal of forensic research by his architect, decided to replace modern outbuildings with more appropriate forms.
It must have been in the late 1980s when I originally visited Sullingstead, then called High Hascombe for a time, and, having put away the photos taken, I had not given the house a great deal of thought until being offered a commission of refurbishing it for new owners. Then, comparing the photos with those published in 1913 by Country Life (Houses and Gardens of E.L. Lutyens by L. Weaver), clearly a large number of important features had disappeared – just about every one of the views published at the time lacked key elements…..but we were fortunate in having a client eager to restore these items!