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Inspiration of the Week: a sleeping beauty in Surrey

This Arts and Crafts house, not far from London yet surprisingly idyllic, has been hardly touched since it was built. Full of unspoiled period details, it simply cries out for a sensitive fix-up

Inspiration of the Week: a sleeping beauty in Surrey

In 1898, an urban planner by the name of Ebenezer Howard began to envisage a new sort of settlement that would shake up sleepy middle England. His garden city movement, as it came to be known, was the impetus behind the foundation of Letchworth, Welwyn and Brentham, where town and country were combined to create healthy, self-sufficient urban areas surrounded by greenbelts. Howard’s “Peaceful Path to Real Reform”, as he referred to it, was to have considerable knock-on effects in urban planning across the globe, notably in the quickly developing suburbs outside London in the first half of the 20th century. Among them is the Ewell, a village on the outskirts of Epsom, where Linden Cottage – currently for sale with us ­– can be found.

The cottage was built in 1929, two years after Howard was knighted for his efforts, on the perimeter of Nonsuch Park, the last surviving portion of deer-hunting grounds attached to King Henry VIII’s Nonsuch Palace. Set back from the street and with a large mature garden, the house feels remarkably rural. But put its bucolic charm aside, however, for what fascinates us most about Linden Cottage, virtually untouched since it was built, is how it wears its history on its sleeve so handsomely.

Modern interventions are at a minimum here. There is a kitchen, made by hand and installed by the current owners’ parents, that sings of the Sixties in just the right way and finds its counterpoint in the perfectly preserved period features elsewhere: the fluted glass in the doors, for instance, or the 1920s quarry tiles than run across the floors. Elsewhere, ironmongery – conceived as part of the cottage’s gesamtkunstwerk design – remains untouched, while throughout the house, the original fenestration frames act as windows to the past, almost literally.

A little love might be needed to coax Linden Cottage back to its full glory, but the bones are there – and what beautiful bones they are.

Linden Cottage, Ewell, Surrey

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