Ned is having a moment. The smart money for a hot spring London staycation is on The Ned, bang next door to Trinity House. Carved out of the former Midland Bank HQ and named after its jolly architect Sir Edwin ‘Ned’ Landseer Lutyens, the hotel cum member’s club is the latest affair from Soho House complete with spoiling Cowshed spa. Even more exclusive (it’s not open to the public) is Little Thakeham, a very private house by Edwin at the end of a long lane, meandering past vineyards, embedded in the edge of the South Downs.
Since its inception at the turn of two centuries ago, Country Life has provided a weekly dose to the shires of girls in pearls and country house porn. The ultimate double page spread quenching all the quintessentially British desires surely is Little Thakeham ever since it first graced the magazine in 1909. The Arts and Crafts with Elizabethan roots of Country Life owner Edward Hudson’s house Deanery Gardens elopes with the Grand Mannerist Wrenaissance of Country Life’s original offices Hudson House. For once, the gardens aren’t by Ned’s green fingered chum Gertrude Jekyll. The architect designed their structure and the original planting was by his client Ernest Blackburn.
This Free Vernacular meets British Empire marriage organically climaxes in the main reception room (currently a music room). A double height mullioned bay window (recently restored following mini tornado damage) to make Bess of Hardwick proud abuts rustication and half moon pediments keeping up with Inigo Jones. Only a talented architect could pull off such stylistic daring. Little wonder Ned himself proudly called Little Thakeham “the best of the bunch”. A country seat with a country seat: 14 times the size of the average British home. Nine bedrooms. Eight bathrooms. Five reception rooms. One Thakeham Bench. First designed for Little Thakeham, this ubiquitous garden seat design has become synonymous with Sir Edwin Lutyens. Some people are always in fashion.