Tour Part 6 - The Bishops Avenue and Winnington Road

The Bishop's Avenue

The north end of The Bishop's Avenue is in fact just within the Suburb boundaries, and some building was carried out under G L Sutcliffe as early as 1914. Numbers 2-12 are a coherent group of large houses by him in a restrained white-walled Tudor (the stone doorways are quite literally Tudor). Opposite, next to the competent neo-Georgian flats by Soutar called Bishop's Court, is a charming pair of houses, numbers 1-3 (architect unknown), which exploit Lutyens's early half-timber manner.

Beyond the junction with Lyttelton Road the character of the road changes, outside the Suburb boundary, into a totally different pattern of exotic mansions for millionaires dotted amidst woodland. The touch of exoticism in fact occurs first within the Suburb in a row of houses in Lyttelton Road (numbers 38-44) opposite Belvedere Court. Here C H James clothed his customarily severe neo-Georgian in yellow and red brick, with hipped roofs of bright green pantiles. Such tiles - they came originally from Uppsala, according to Mr. A S Gray -were a hallmark of 'twenties exotic. Architects, becoming bored with tradition yet not prepared to embrace the Modern Movement, were tending to go for their sketching holidays, not in the Cotswolds or on the Broads, but in such places as Yugoslavia and Apulia.

The leaders of the exoticists were perhaps Oliver Hill and Clough Williams-Ellis, but one of the best was Philip Hepworth, whose three choicest houses stand close to one another on the north side of The Bishop's Avenue. Gable Lodge comes first (c 1927). It is Cape Dutch, with a big curly gable and a big Lutyens chimney balanced asymmetrically, the snow-white walls being crowned by glorious pantiled roof mottled in dark green and brown. The garage and the gate piers are just as carefully designed. Stratheden, the next in the road and the second to be built (c 1925), is more strident. This time there is a crow-stepped gable, bright green tiles over white-washed brick walls, and extraordinary windows with squashed baluster mullions and (on the upper floor) curved corners like a Cadillac. Mr. Gray attributes such features to Oliver Hill's former chief assistant Lawrence, who had just joined Hepworth.

Then there is the brilliant White Walls (c 1924). It is a development from Lutyens's Hill House, Herts., of 1912, with a recessed centre between symmetrical wings, and a central chimney stack dominating the continuous hipped roof. This time the pantiles are a delicate mottled turquoise, and originally the shutters were all turquoise too. Oddly enough the house next door is now called Turquoise (previously Shirah). It is a real collectors' piece, having been designed in 1914 by Smith & Brewer, the architects of Heal's and the Mary Ward Settlement. It is typical of Cecil Brewer's personal interpretation of Georgian, the high main block, in brown brick dressed with red, being crowned by a hipped roof with a big Venetian window in a tile-hung dormer. To left and right are single storey wings, with mansard roofs at right-angles to the forecourt.

After this The Bishop's Avenue has less to offer architecturally. White Lodge (at the back of White Lodge Close) is a competent Tudor mansion with Lutyenesque brick loggias. Westwood has (in the part now called Inglestone Manor) an attractive facade of c 1900 with Renaissance pargetting in the gables. Number 5 Byron Close is the only really distinguished example of post-1945 architecture in the Suburb. Barons Court is a pure film set ideal of an American Colonial mansion, like something from "Gone with  Wind", with an elegant tetrastyle ionic portico.

Then follow two good houses, Kenmore, a restrained derivation (1896, remodelled c 1905) from Norman Shaw's style of Surrey tile-hanging, and Heath Hall (originally East Weald), a remarkably ornate example of Arts and Crafts brickwork by H. V Ashley and F Winton Newman, designed in 1910 for one of the Lyles of Tate and Lyle. Ashley and Newman later made their name as competition-winners for monumental public buildings (Birmingham Art Gallery, Freemasons' Hall), but like so many of their better instincts were clearly domestic. Here the dramatic round-arched brick doorway set in a bowed centrepiece recalls the American architect H H Richardson (specifically his Severs Hall at Harvard). There is a lively outer-arch of carved stone foliage. The house is very large and is peppered with cut and projecting brickwork.

Spaniard Inn, Kenwood Close, Ingram Avenue

The south end of The Bishop's Avenue peters out architecturally as it reaches Hampstead Lane opposite the gates to Ken Wood. Hampstead Lane itself runs steeply up to the Spaniards Inn. Both the public house and the equally famous toll house lie just within the Borough of Barnet and the Conservation Area. As austere examples of whitewashed brickwork in the seventeenth and eighteenth century vernacular, they are, with Wyldes Farm, the local prototypes of sensible building from which Parker and Unwin were able to draw inspiration.

Below the inn, and well placed below the level of Hampstead Lane, are the three grand neo-Georgian houses of Ken Wood Close, designed in Soutar's office by W T Powell as late as 1936. They show unusual faithfulness to Lutyens's values in their two-coloured brickwork and well-detailed white mouldings. In Ingram Avenue, which connects Winnington Road to Wildwood Road there is a sequence of big neo-Georgian houses, mostly also by Powell for Soutar,

Spaniards Close of 1932, also by Powell for Soutar, has a pleasant shape, with its steep rise up the hill to a dominant symmetrical house at the top (Spaniard's House). 16 Ingram Avenue stands out for the real panache of its composition. It is in fact a hitherto unrecorded design by Sir Edwin Lutyens himself, done privately for his patron and friend Reginald McKenna as a wedding present for McKenna's son. The five-bay front, in the same grey and red mixture as the houses around Central Square, has two fine red brick niches at first floor level and two projecting single-storey wings with hipped roofs, neatly defining the forecourt.

Winnington Road

Winnington Road begins with a group of houses - the four immediately before Ingram Avenue - built by Robert Hart and designed by W T Powell in Soutar's office. They repeat the ripe Georgian vocabulary of Ken Wood Close are still carefully linked by garage walls in the Unwin tradition. Further along Winnington Road, Spaniard's Mount is a vigorous, if rather loud, essay in the later manner of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, designed by his brother, Adrian Gilbert Scott, as his own home. It has a big recessed balcony over the front door and curious blocky stone vases. Hornbeams was the third house designed for himself by C H James (1936).

Beyond Holne Chase, Brook House on the left is a fine restrained mansion in greyish-brown brick, with pantiles. It is set back behind a forecourt, giving it considerable presence. Orchard Lea (number 19), another house of the Soutar type, is another moment of real distinction until Lyttelton Road is reached next to the green-roofed houses by James.