THE EMPIRE'S ARCHITECT
The transfer of the seat of government in India from Calcutta was to provide Lutyens with his greatest commission when, in 1912 he was invited with Sir Herbert Baker, to design the central buildings for New Delhi, a task that was to occupy him until 1931. Between these years Lutyens was to travel many times over the long sea journey between Britain and India. His principal preoccupation was with Viceroy House, an enormous building, to the design of which he brought his own innate sense of western classical order, incorporating Indian elements in his uniquely sensitive way. Now the Presidential Palace, it includes a vast garden inspired by Moghul ideas using terraces, fountains and pools.
The aftermath of the First World War led to one of Lutyens' most famous commissions: the Cenotaph in Whitehall. Unveiled in 1920, its simplicity disguises its geometric complexity, for it is without a straight line or a flat surface. The Imperial War Graves Commission, with the task of forming permanent cemeteries on the French and Belgium battlefields, was aided by a group of architects including Lutyens who designed the Stone of Remembrance to be found at them all. The huge Monument to the Missing in the Somme was entirely his, as was the elegantly simple War Memorial outside Busbridge Church. Lutyens' own funeral was in Westminster Abbey, his ashes being buried in St. Paul's Cathedral.
CHURCHILL AND LUTYENS
Although Sir Edwin Lutyens never worked directly for Sir Winston Churchill, they had many friends and connections in common. Winston and his wife Clementine were frequent visitors to Knebworth, family home of Lutyens's wife Emily Lytton, where the architect did much work on the garden and in the house, including the Great Hall - which was the subject of one of Churchill's paintings .
Clementine Churchill's cousin, Venetia Montagu, had a country house in Norfolk, Breccles, altered by Lutyens, which was set in a wonderful garden that often inspired Churchill's painterly instincts.
In fact it was near Godalming, at Hoe Farm in Hambledon that Churchill began to paint in oils. The original 16th century house was modified by Lutyens for Winston's friend the Duke of Westminster. During the First World War in 1915, it was let to the Churchill family after the disastrous Dardenelles campaign for which Winston was held to be politically responsible and forced to resign from the Admiralty. Two paintings of Hoe Farm and its garden were returned to Lady Churchill in 1963 by Mrs Tickner, widow of the former head gardener, who had cared for them faithfully since the summer of 1915, after being asked to keep them to dry.
Grateful thanks to: Michael Kerry, Alan Bott, Michael Edwards.
SELECT FURTHER READING
Gardens of a Golden Afternoon. The story of a partnership: Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll. By Jane Brown. Allen Lane l982.
Gertrude Jekyll. By Sally Festing. Viking 1991.
Lutyens and the Edwardians: An English Architect and his Clients. By Jane Brown. Viking 1996.
The Life of Sir Edwin Lutyens. By Christopher Hussey. Country Life 1950.
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[c] Trustees of Godalming Museum 1998.