The story of Little Thakeham is complicated and mildly scandalous. Ernest Blackburn, a country gentleman and gardener, originally commissioned J Hatchard Smith, a London architect in 1901, to build a country house. Blackburn found he did not like the brick house that was emerging, thinking it a blot on the landscape like a house in Wimbledon or Putney. Through Gertrude Jekyll he was introduced to Lutyens who was building his reputation designing houses in the vernacular style. Lutyens came down to the site and advised that the house be pulled down replacing it with a house of local Pulborough rock.

Hatchard Smith was paid off, a furious public row ensued.

Nevertheless, Lutyens inspired by local views created a simple, elegant country house combining vernacular Tudor with the Grand Manner, with wide bays and a south facing oriel window. Soft light falls in from tall stone mullioned windows, wide honey coloured oak planks blend with the mellow stone walls. Beautifully crafted iron door latches open polished oak doors into elegant and comfortable rooms with delightful views over the colourful well stocked gardens and landscape.

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The Thakeham Bench

Originally designed for the garden at Little Thakeham near Storrington, West Sussex, the Thakeham Bench was used by Lutyens in almost all his garden designs. The rhythmical symmetry of the bench is typical of Lutyens’s love of form. The bench has become an archetypal design in its own right and it is perhaps the piece of furniture which is most associated with Lutyens.

‘The Lutyens Bench’, properly called The Thakeham Bench or Thakeham Seat, is a garden seat designed by Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens (1869-1944), for the garden of Little Thakeham house, near Storrington in West Sussex, England. The bench, traditionally from oak or teak and at 6ft or 8ft wide, has one Lutyens’ family authorised maker to the original design, this in the UK. A bench style with the Lutyens Bench or Thakeham Bench name has become a prevalent derivative in manufacture and sale throughout the world, but with differing wood types, and to varying degrees of quality and adherence to the original design, particularly in the sleek top line of its back.[1] – From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.

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Photos from 1921