All images courtesy of The Modern House
Who can resist a snoop around some stunning mid-century properties? Certainly not us – which is why we asked The Modern House to share some of the stories behind the properties on their books. Here they take us on a tour of Leslie Gooday’s stunning Long Wall in St George’s Hill, Surrey.
Leslie Gooday’s Long Wall and the St George’s Hill estate
Despite having full directions and the address, it took us several trips up and down the road before we could find the entrance to the drive at Long Wall. Nestled amongst trees and greenery, and set back on a private path, off a private road in a private estate, it gives an air of total seclusion, peace and quiet.
Entering via the drive, you first notice the lush green surroundings – in fact it was a stipulation of Walter George Tarrant, who pioneered the St George’s Hill estate, that each plot have at least one acre of private land.
Tarrant, a local builder, bought almost a thousand acres of land with the intention of creating a residential estate for wealthy individuals “to enjoy peace and privacy”. House building began in 1912 and though briefly halted by the First World War, continued at great pace through the 1920s, when at one point at least 5000 men were employed by Tarrant at St George’s Hill and on other new estates in Surrey.
Leslie Gooday: “A picturesque modern style”
Leslie Gooday, was born in Surrey in 1921 and after qualifying as an architect, he worked on the Festival of Britain Southbank exhibition in 1951. In the 1960s he set up his own practice in Putney, where he worked for several decades on various residential and civic projects predominantly in south-west London. One notable exception is his work on the British pavilion at the 1970 Expo in Japan, for which he received his OBE.
Gooday designed his first house for personal use in 1953 in south-west London, close to Richmond Park. Just under a decade later, he began work on this property – a new, larger home for his family. When Historic England listed the house at Grade II, they described it as having been designed in “a picturesque modern style” and “perhaps his most successful and certainly his most personal work”.
Leslie Gooday and the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright
A terrazzo hallway welcomes you into the house, with the first wing of bedrooms on your left, including the master bedroom that overlooks the extensive garden. The bedrooms contain all of the original features, perfectly intact – including the fitted cupboards and cantilevered red cedar sideboards
If you take a right instead, you come into the extraordinary main living space, which includes a beautiful double height birch ceiling, a board marked concrete wall, and a slim concrete spiral staircase, up which you can climb into Gooday’s personal study where he worked on architectural projects and in later life, paintings.
On going back down the stairs, you are instantly drawn to a wall of glass looking out on to the gardens. It’s here that you start to feel the references to Frank Lloyd Wright, one of Gooday’s personal heroes and an inspiration throughout his career. Wright’s ‘organic architecture’ is at work here, as Long Wall blends in comfortably with its natural surroundings. At the same time, it stands in great contrast with many of its neighbours on St George’s Hill, where most of the other mid-century homes have been knocked down to make way for expansive new builds, often in the neo-Georgian style.
Thank you to The Modern House for the tour – we’d love to move into Long Wall straight away! Leslie Gooday’s original vision remains untouched, offering a unique opportunity – and challenge – for the lucky future homeowner. Hopefully there will be another opportunity to snoop further down the line!
Find out more about this property on The Modern House website
We visited another architect’s family home, the house of Mary Medd, in MidCentury 07
Discover more stunning mid-century properties in our architecture archives