This modernist complex of three houses was self-built by architect Peter Aldington and his wife Margaret between 1964-67.
The complex was built with the intention of living in one (Turn End) and selling or leasing the others (The Turn and Middle Turn) to help finance the scheme. Open to the public just twice a year, we visited on a sticky August Bank Holiday to explore the celebrated rear garden and retro interiors.
The group of houses sit around an entrance court, which also provides parking. Each house is ‘L-shaped’, having 2/3 bedrooms with a private courtyard to the front, and larger gardens at the rear. Aldington’s own house contains a studio which for many years served as the practice’s office.
Some of our favourite elements include the private living space with glazed doors and a built-in bed which apparently came as something of an afterthought during construction, when Margaret and Peter temporarily occupied the space in their sleeping-bags and discovered how nice it was to ‘wake up and look at the pond’. As Peter says: ‘it’s really wonderful if you’re ill’. The room terminates with a top-lit ‘plantery’ occupied by an historic 60’s cheeseplant, filling the end of the room with reflected sunlight.
The walls are concrete block work, rendered externally and simply painted inside. Roofs are timber mono-pitches, covered with concrete tiles.
Aldington’s ethos of linking building to landscape and providing neighbourliness with privacy led to a new vernacular that has become known as romantic pragmatism. It is for this architectural achievement that Turn End is considered to be Grade II quality. Listed in 1998, they are cited as being “exceptional and influential” examples of modern architecture.