Spring Lecture Series

Handcrafted House: making beautiful places

A series of lectures exploring how the interplay of architecture, design and craft skill in three unique houses has created places of outstanding individuality and beauty, which express and reflect the personality of their creators and occupants. All lectures will be held at St Botolph's Church Hall, Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 3TL and will be followed by a drinks reception. Please arrive at 6.15pm for a 6.30pm start.


(Left to right: 575 Wandsworth Road, credit David Clarke / copyright Susie Thomson; A House for Essex, credit Jack Hobhouse/Living Architecture; Stoneywell, credit Andrew Butler/NT Images)

A Taj Mahal upon the Stour

Designing the House for Essex
Charles Holland
Thursday 25 February

A House for Essex is a creative collaboration between FAT Architecture and artist Grayson Perry, commissioned by Alain de Botton’s Living Architecture project. A provocative and daring fusion of art and architecture, it is part holiday house, part chapel, and dedicated to Julie Cope, a fictional Essex ‘everywoman’ whose life, and the county, are celebrated in the building’s sculpture and ornament. Architect, teacher and writer Charles Holland, director in charge of the project whilst at FAT (Fashion Architecture Taste), will recount the story of the project and the process of designing and realising this remarkable new house.

A modest masterpiece

Saving 575 Wandsworth Road, London
Tessa Wild
Thursday 3 March

This modest Regency terraced house in south London was acquired by the National Trust in 2010 because of its enthralling interiors, created by a Kenyan-born poet, novelist, philosopher and civil servant Khadambi Asalache. Having bought the house in 1981, and initially prompted by the need to disguise a damp wall in the basement dining room, over the next 20 years he embellished almost every wall, ceiling and door in the house with exquisite fretwork and painted decoration.  Carving panels and furniture himself using reclaimed pine doors and floorboards found in skips, he turned his home into a unique personal work of art. Tessa Wild, Curator for London and the South East, will explain the National Trust’s work to preserve this extraordinary domestic masterpiece and give access to it for visitors.

Grown from the ground

Stoneywell cottage, Leicestershire
Simon Chesters–Thompson
Thursday 17 March

The aptly-named Stoneywell is one of three  neighbouring cottages built by Arts and Crafts architect and SPAB stalwart Ernest Gimson in a quiet Leicestershire lane as holiday retreats for his siblings. The house, completed in 1889, exemplifies Gimson’s trademark sophisticated simplicity and love of natural materials finely crafted.  Rugged and zigzagging out of the rocky outcrop on which it sits, Stoneywell seems to have grown from its site, and is furnished with many items handmade by Gimson and his peers, such as Sidney Barnsley.  Simon Chesters-Thompson, Regional Curator with the National Trust, will describe the history and presentation of the house, which opened to visitors in 2015.

To book tickets to one or all of these talks, please download our booking form and return it to the Education Team, The SPAB, 37 Spital Square, London, E1 6DY or email to education@spab.org.uk.