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The Homewood

The Homewood is a stunning modernist house in Esher left to the National Trust by Patrick Gwynne, its architect and resident for 65 years. Gwynne was the son of a wealthy naval officer who had Welsh roots. They lived in a large Edwardian villa set in 10 acres which Gwynne senior had spent 20 years turning into gorgeous gardens. The Edwardian house was right next to the busy Portsmouth Road and the Gwynne’s crockery would shake every time a lorry passed. So in 1937, Patrick – a talented young architect at 24 – persuaded his parents to commission him to design a new home in the Modern Movement style, siting it on the furthest point on the estate from the road.

Homewood east

We visited the house on a mild October day on the last tour of the year. The sprawling gardens, looking spice-coloured and autumnal, seemed to merge without boundaries into Esher Commons. Then we approached the house . . . WHAT a thing of beauty, even better than I had imagined, even if that eastern elevation looks spookily similar to Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye near Paris. The layout and rooms are so well-organised and designed; the attention to detail is mind-boggling. The interior as a whole is quite Bond-like and you get the impression that entertaining and partying were of the highest priority. The office, en-suite bedrooms, barbeque/pool area and service areas are perfectly configured and at least forty years ahead of their time.

Homewood south

The tour guides were really engaging. They had got to know Gwynne quite well before he died in 2003 at the age of 90; there was obviously a lot of fondness there. They kept the group teased with all sorts of minutiae at the top of the circular staircase, then they eventually opened the leather-covered double doors into the main living room. Boom. We were all utterly floored.
It’s the most beautiful, impressive room I’ve seen.

Homewood lounge

Sofa, coffee table and Eames chair in the Living Room at The Homewood, Surrey

Gwynne designed about fifty houses for wealthy clients. Many of those have been knocked down by developers because they sat in huge grounds in prime locations. About ten remain and they’re all listed. The Homewood must have cost a fortune to build. They knocked down the Edwardian Villa, so they couldn’t use the proceeds from that. At the end of the amazing living room, there’s four Georgian-era portraits of Gwynne’s wealthy Welsh ancestors who, in the Regency era, built a spa town on the west coast of Wales. It turns out that in order to fund The Homewood, Gwynne’s father sold Aberaeron.

Homewood Paintings


Image 3: Avanti Architects, who oversaw the building’s conservation.
Image 4 & 5: National Trust / Stuart Cox