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Ordnance survey map of MIDDLE TURN
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Aylesbury Vale (District Authority)
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SP 73954 08666



570/10/10003 TOWNSIDE 15-JUL-98 (East side) Turn End, and retaining walls and pool (Formerly listed as: TOWNSIDE THE TURN) (Formerly listed as: TOWNSIDE MIDDLE TURN) (Formerly listed as: TOWNSIDE TURN END, AND RETAINING WALLS)

GV II* Group of three houses with open-fronted covered parking. Designed 1963, built 1964-7 with later minor internal alterations, by Peter Aldington, with Turn End for his own use. Aldington and his wife Margaret carried out much of the building work themselves. Roughly rendered nine inch foamed Durox concrete block walls with small sections of local wychert in Turn End. Shallow monopitch concrete terracotta delta tile roofs, with short stacks, also rendered and tile capped. Entrance front forms two-sided courtyard with garden walls concealing windows. Turn End is the largest of the group. Each house is a variant of the same open plan based round a central kitchen, partly subdivided and single storey.

EXTERIOR: New Brutalist inspired re-working of local vernacular. Entrance front forms two-sided courtyard with garden walls concealing windows. Clerestorey windows at junction of roof pitches, with tile-capped chimneys. Clapboarded fascia to long studio block facing entrance, with entrance to Turn End through this block. Principal windows are to enclosed courtyards. Outward facing walls to entrance court have mainly high-level windows with narrow panes between thick mullions, and low bedroom windows. Turn End has garden doors from kitchen and principal bedroom. Kitchens and living areas share a common aspect towards the south and east respectively.

INTERIOR: Internal walls have white-painted blockwork with cast concrete shelves and Stanley Brothers' quarry tile floors. Exposed purlins and rafters, lacquered, and with pine boarded soffits. Fireplaces with deep concrete hoods. Built-in solid concrete benches around fireplace. Turn End has built-in concrete bed platform in living space, with loft area above, and kitchen has storage under. Middle Turn has timber hung stair to loft space. Turn End studio has exposed original portion of wychert wall, upper gallery and bedspace. Twelve inch red quarry tiles in the living areas. Bedroom floors of sealed softwood.

GARDEN WALLS: Garden walls of rendered concrete block separate the houses from the entrance court and road, and bound the rear gardens from each other. Within the garden of Turn End, a continuation of the forecourt wall bounds the courtyard from a later addition, No-mans, and extends to bound the spring garden and eastern glade, daisy garden and (set at a lower level down steps) the garden of Aldington's former offices. The wall encloses a fourth side of a courtyard formed by the principal rooms of Turn End, in which a pool is an integral part of the composition.

HISTORY: Peter Aldington was working for the London County Council Architect's Department when he was commissioned by friends Mike and Celia White to design them a house at Askett, outside Prince's Risborough in Buckinghamshire (grade II). Here on a modest scale, Aldington brought together many of the ideas he had evolved from a careful study of houses here and on the continent, and in particular the honest expression of materials and clunky detailing seen in Howell and Amis's houses in South Hill Park, Camden, of John Weeks's housing in Rushbrooke (grade II) and Stirling and Gowan's Langham House Close (grade II). Aldington made the style his own, with careful attention to detail and a 'boy's own' sensibility to joinery and the building-in of every possible element. These features were to be developed more fully in his next project at Haddenham. Aldington and his wife lived at Askett Green briefly as it was being completed, as the Whites were working abroad, and resolved to build their own house, to demonstrate, as Jane Brown has written, 'that village housing could be both modern and traditional'. The Aldingtons secured a plot in Haddenham, which had outline permission for three conventionally-planned houses. With Margaret acting as developer, Peter Aldington redesigned the scheme, retaining the main existing trees and No. 9 Townside, which has become their gardener's cottage, and following the building line of the adjoining houses.

Haddenham is a long, straddling village, distinguished by its high walls, made of a novel local material, wychert, a mixture of natural forming soft chalk and clay mixed with straw and used for walls under a thatched or pantiled coping. One such wall was incorporated into the Aldington's own house, Turn End, built at the end of a short turning and set behind a carport. To the side two further houses were built for sale, screened from the turning area by high walls that reflect those found around the village. The smaller houses were built only after planning permission was secured to build to the existing building line, to a simplified version of the Turn End plan, without the large bedroom and studio. The houses are remarkable for their homogenous style, in which modern render, concrete tile and large windows can appear quasi vernacular in a historic setting, thanks to their careful massing, and large proportion of roof and dormer to wall, together with their clever integration into the surrounding gardens.

This is an exceptional and influential early example of the romantic vernacular modernism, showing how a local tradition could inspire thoroughly modern village housing. The aim was to provide neighbourliness with privacy, relaxed but at the same time exciting spaces, in buildings which did not plagiarise but nevertheless owed as much to their older neighbours as they did to modern architectural thinking and experience. They form the architectural background to a fine garden, and Peter Aldington also ran his office (Aldington, Craig and Collinge from 1980) from a converted C19 building next door, whose land is incorporated into the garden. The whole group pivots round an older cottage (No.9 Townside), which forms an integral part of the composition and bounds the south side of the entrance to the complex. The houses were given names at the request of the first residents of Middle Turn. Peter Shepheard wrote that 'these houses and their gardens stand mature as a rare example of how to add modern houses to an ancient village without a hint of suburbia.' Lord Esher, whose advice was instrumental in securing planning permission for the group, wrote in 1990 that 'it is still just about the best postwar house I know.'

SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE: Complex of three houses and linking walls, with courtyard pool, of 1964-7 by Peter Aldington, including his own home. An exceptional synthesis of traditional and modern materials has created a new vernacular, a building designed to perfectly fit its brief and its setting - an early example of what became known as romantic pragmatism. It is for this architectural achievement that Turn End is considered to be grade II* quality.

SOURCES: Architectural Review, August 1968, pp.102-4 Concrete Quarterly, July/September 1968; June Park: Houses for Today: London: 1971, pp.68-69 Richard Enzig: Classic Modern Houses in Europe, 1981 Dan Cruickshank, 'Turn End, Haddenham', in RIBA Journal, October 1996, pp.56-63. Jane Brown, A Garden and Three Houses, 1999 Information from Peter Aldington


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
Brown, Jane (words), Bryant, Richard (pictures), a garden and three houses, (1999 reprinted 2010)
Einzig, R, Classic Modern Houses in Europe, (1981)
Park, J, Houses for Today, (1971), 68-69
'Architectural Review' in August, (1968), 102-4
'Concrete Quarterly' in July/September, (1968)
Cruickshank, D, 'RIBA Journal' in Turn End, Haddenham, (1996), 56-63


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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Date: 06 Jun 2006
Reference: IOE01/14794/08
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Patrick Butler. Source Historic England Archive
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