- Heritage Category:
- Listed Building
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Statutory Address:
- Walpole Avenue, Chipstead, Coulsdon, CR5 3PR
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- Statutory Address:
- Walpole Avenue, Chipstead, Coulsdon, CR5 3PR
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Reigate and Banstead (District Authority)
- Non Civil Parish
- National Grid Reference:
House, 1923, to designs by G Blair Imrie of Imrie and Angell, including altered swimming pool, terracing and hard landscaping features within the garden.
Reasons for Designation
West Ridge, a house of 1923 built to designs by George Blair Imrie of Imrie and Angell, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* the building’s skilful and well-crafted composition mimics the accretive character of the region’s vernacular houses with a picturesque balance of scale and form; * there is a consistently high standard of materials, detailing and craftsmanship throughout the building’s exterior envelope; * a little-altered interior scheme of good quality joinery, fittings and finishes extends throughout much of the house, including service areas and principal rooms.
* as a strong example of a vernacular revival house of early- to mid-C20 and especially familiar to the county of Surrey; * the surviving plan-form and fabric is particularly instructive of the aspirations and lifestyle of a wealthy middle-class family during the inter-war period; * as a good example of the work of a highly-regarded architect who worked extensively in Surrey and whose houses appeared in a number of national publications.
West Ridge was built in 1923 to designs by G Blair Imrie of Imrie and Angell for Alexander B Stewart. An application for the building’s construction is recorded in the Epsom Rural District Council Register, number E2076, dated 6 April 1923. The electoral register shows that by 1924 Stewart was in occupation. In 1928 the house was featured in Country Life magazine as part of a series focusing on ‘The lesser country houses of today’.
Alexander Bellamy Stewart (1891-1977) was born in London and married in Leytonstone in 1920. In 1922 he became a founding partner of Stewart and Hughman Ltd, a managing agency for Lloyds of London syndicates. West Ridge remained in the family until 2019, occupied by his son, Brian A Stewart, who had followed his father into the company.
George Blair Imrie, MBE FRIBA (1885-1952) was an architect by practise rather than qualification. He trained as a quantity surveyor and became a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1925 as a result of its merger with the Society of Architects. His architectural partnership with Thomas Graveley Angell (1880-1956) began prior to the First World War. The firm’s offices were in London but Imrie worked extensively in the south east, particularly Surrey. In 1914 he produced his best-known work, the Royal Horticultural Society Offices, Wisley Gardens, Surrey (listed Grade II). Imrie specialised in domestic architecture, large and small, working on new houses and the restoration of existing ones. He was also responsible for the layout of a number of private housing estates, and spent the last years of his career in Wiltshire designing housing for local and urban councils.
A number of Imrie’s houses featured in architectural journals and books of the inter-war period, many of the publications dedicated to showcasing smaller and medium-sized family houses, as well as those termed ‘lesser’ or ‘smaller’ country houses. Imrie was a keen supporter of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and a firm believer in the importance of houses harmonising with their context. He worked largely in a vernacular revival style, his houses typically reflecting the traditional forms and materials of the south eastern counties. His interest in working-class housing was established early but his main contributions to this sector came late in his career and won him three medals from the Ministry of Housing. T G Angell described his partner as combining ‘practical knowledge, common sense and great artistic ability to an unusual degree’ despite his lack of formal architectural training. He also recalled Imrie’s pride that, other than for council housing, he had never repeated a design.
House, 1923, to designs by G Blair Imrie of Imrie and Angell.
MATERIALS: the building is of red brick and timber-frame, with tile-hung first floor and clay tiled roof. Windows are steel casements with leaded lights (some with square quarries, some diamond-shaped) held in mullioned, pegged oak sub-frames.
PLAN: the house is situated on the east side of Walpole Avenue, an elevated no-through road laid out in the early C20 following the opening of Chipstead railway station in 1897. The site slopes up to the east, with the house positioned close to its eastern boundary. The house faces north north-east, but for ease of reference below it will be described as if square to the compass points, with the front elevation facing north.
The house is not visible from the road; a driveway on a slight incline sweeps round to approach the house from the north. The building is L-shaped in plan, the L framing a gravelled entrance forecourt to the south and east. The main family rooms are in the south range (which runs east/west, facing north) and the service areas are in the longer, narrower east range (running north/south, facing west).
The south range is elevated on a low terrace with stone retaining wall and is entered through a vestibule into a hall running east/west along the north front. A drawing room, study, dog-leg stair and dining room overlook the garden to the south. To the south of the dining room (at the outer corner of the ‘L’), is a snooker room – this was originally a west-facing open-fronted loggia, subsequently enclosed. Running northward from the dining room, the service range contains a pantry, kitchen, former maid’s sitting room, store rooms and a coal store. At the far north end is the self-contained former chauffeur’s accommodation with sitting room and garage on the ground floor and two bedrooms above. The rooms on the first floor are labelled in the 1928 Country Life article as owner’s bedroom, dressing room and bathroom; a second bathroom, spare room, day nursery, night nursery and two small interconnecting maids’ bedrooms.
EXTERIOR: the building’s main front is an asymmetric composition which encloses the gravelled forecourt on two sides. A flat-roofed lift tower has been added at the inside corner of the ‘L’ with the materials well-matched to the originals. Roofs are hipped with gablets, stepping down in height from the south range to the east range and again over the garage; there is an irregular arrangement of mullioned windows at different heights and several hipped roof dormers. There are three tall ridge stacks with corbelled caps and mortar flashings around the base studded with pebbles. A large external stack on the north front intersects with a two-storey gabled entrance bay. This is brick on the ground floor and has a shallow jettied timber-framed first floor with curved braces, close-studding and brick and tile nogging. The sole plate of the frame is supported on scrolled timber corbels. The entrance is approached up a shallow flight of four steps, a vestibule reached through a four-centred arched opening in the brickwork. Within the vestibule is an off-set timber plank door with iron studs and forged strap hinges, held in a pegged frame with segmental head.
The west end of the south range has a square bay window and exposed timber-framing on the ground floor, again with brick and tile nogging; the tile-hung first floor is jettied out above. The framing continues round onto the south-facing garden front. This gives a stylistic nod towards the Wealden-type hall house and is formally much simpler than the north elevation. It has an almost symmetrical arrangement of windows and a central section at ground floor recessed beneath a first-floor jetty supported on full-height curved braces with padstones of clay tiles laid on bed. A central six-light mullioned and transomed ‘hall’-type window on the first floor lights the stair. At the east end of the elevation is the former loggia with a low hipped roof and now with the open front in-filled with two pairs of French windows and leaded glazing.
The east elevation is the rear of the house, near the back boundary of the plot and giving external access to the service quarters. The palette of materials and detail continues but with a more prosaic composition.
INTERIOR: the interior appears to be very little altered based on the pictures and description in the Country Life article, and the character and coherence of many of the fittings.
The main hall has a subtly vaulted ceiling and quarry tile floor. The dogleg stair is oak, with a balustrade of heavy turned balusters and newels with ball finials. The dining room has the most elaborate scheme, in a loosely C17 style. The walls are lined in dark-stained oak panelling, integrating the doors of a service hatch linking through to the pantry on the other side. Two moulded timber beams span the ceiling, the intervening plasterwork edged with a grape and vine border. Plasterwork motifs of animals and plants form a frieze at the wall head.
The drawing room has a coved cornice and a large open fireplace with clay tile grate, a heavy stone bolection-moulded surround and curved stone hearth. The other family rooms (the study and the bedrooms) are simply appointed, without plasterwork but with oak skirting boards and picture rails. Fireplaces have moulded or flat timber surrounds with tiled slips. Notable are the Delft tiles in the study, and the Delft nursery rhyme tiles in the day nursery. Built-in cupboards in the bedrooms also survive well, with hanging rails, drawers and shelves.
The kitchen and pantry retain fitted cupboards and dressers, as well as white-glazed tiling with timber edging. Many of the bathroom and sanitary fittings also survive, including an impressive shower fitting (presumed to be original) and tiling similar to that in the kitchen as well as Delft tiling in the second bathroom.
The doors and ironmongery are mainly nine-panel oak with cock’s-head hinges and lever handles on decorative plates.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: the south range of the house is raised on a low terrace and the wider site is terraced to address contours of the land, which falls from east to west. The terraces are contained by retaining walls of squared random stone, cut through with flights of stone steps. Other landscape features include a paved terrace with fish pond overlooking the garden to the south and a long walk running southwards from the house terminating in an octagonal garden ‘room’, again defined by terracing of low stone walls. To the west of the house, at the lowest level of the garden, is a swimming pool. This is original and was built as an open-air pool with stone paved surround. It has since been enclosed by a late-C20 metal and polycarbonate pool house and the edges repaved. Outbuildings on the site were not inspected.
Books and journals
'West Ridge, Chipstead, Surrey' in Country Life, , Vol. 63, (17 March 1928), pp. 385-387
Angell, Thomas Graveley, 1880-1956, biographical file held at RIBA library
Imrie, George Blair, 1885-1952, biographical file held at RIBA library
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