A holiday rest home for `ladies of small means'
Goddards was built by Edwin Lutyens for Frederick Mirrielees in 1898-1900. Designed in his Surrey traditional style, it shows his mastery of local materials - stone, brick, roughcast and oak - and it is considered one of his most important early houses. The influence of Gertrude Jekyll and her enthusiasm for the local vernacular architecture, which she shared with Lutyens, can be strongly felt at Goddards where she planted the courtyard garden. Lutyens's commission was to build a holiday rest home for 'ladies of small means,' which would become a private charity of Mirrielees.
The site was a plot of seven acres near Pasture Wood, Abinger Common, where the Mirrielees family were living. He was the kind of client that Lutyens liked best - he was a rich businessman who was prepared to invest in building and he respected good craftsmanship.
The original plan, Lutyens's first to be symmetrical, comprised a common room with two wings of bedrooms on each side, but no bathrooms or heating as it was intended for summer use only. Much thought went into the ladies' entertainment on wet days in the country and with this in mind the skittle alley on the ground floor and a gallery in the attic area, in which to play games, were built.
The house served its purpose well and following a visit, Lutyens wrote 'Went down to Goddards and went over the place. It seems very successful and the inmates love it and invariably weep when they leave it, which is comforting. Mirrielees seems very happy with it too. ... We all played a game of skittles in my alley! I like using the things I make.' Six visitors were the most that the house could comfortably hold then and, as described in a Country Life article of 1904, they included 'nurses from hospitals, ladies of small means who could not otherwise afford a holiday, East End workers exhausted by care for others' who for two or three weeks had 'a bright social life there, readings, games and, perhaps best of all, a lovely garden.'
In 1910 Mirrielees, now Sir Frederick, commissioned Lutyens to alter Goddards and turn it into a family house for his son, Donald, and his American wife. It seems however that they used the house only at weekends. Lutyens extended both wings to make a dining room and a library, the common room became the drawing room and two master bedrooms were provided on the first floor, together with bathrooms, central heating and electric light. At the same time he lowered the sills in the common room to strengthen its relationship to the garden. The `ladies of small means' were moved to a converted barn at Pasture Wood.
Sir Frederick died in 1914 and his widow sold Goddards in 1927 to the Gibbs family, who in turn sold it to the Halls in 1953. Goddards was given to the Lutyens Trust in 1991 by Mr and Mrs M. W. Hall, in memory of their architect son, Lee Heath Hall. However, running the house without an endowment or experience proved too expensive and difficult for the small Trust and in 1995 they handed it to the Landmark Trust on a long lease, keeping the Library as their headquarters.
For a short history of Goddards please click here.
To read the full history album for Goddards please click here.
To download the children's Explorer pack for Goddards please click here.
Select a changeover day to start your booking...
What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain More
A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.
Monday 13th February 2014