Addition and alterations to Leigh Farm Cottages, Ansty

M344 Addition and alterations to Leigh Farm Cottages, Ansty

Address: Cuckfield Road, Ansty
Date: 1920–1
Client: Florence Brooks
Authorship: Authorship category 1 (Mackintosh) (Mackintosh)

This was a very modest project involving the conversion of a pair of semi-detached cottages into a single house. Its main interest is as an indicator of how low Mackintosh's architectural career had been brought subsequent to moving to the unfamiliar world of London, and by restrictions on new building as a result of the First World War.

Very little is known of the client, Florence Brooks, or of how she came to commission Mackintosh. On 17 August 1920 he made a site visit to the cottages, situated between Burgess Hill and Ansty, where he drew rough plans and took measurements. 1 On 8 September Brooks approved his proposals and asked him to proceed with the working drawings and estimates. 2 After this there seems to have been a delay until January 1921, when the client approved amended plans and Mackintosh engaged an assistant, Hope Elder, to draw them up. 3 She was a sister of Eleanor Elder, who was one of the Honorary Organising Secretaries of the Arts League of Service, Mackintosh's most important client at the time. 4

The pair of cottages appear to have been built around the turn of the 20th century; they do not appear on the O.S. map of 1897, but are shown in 1911. 5 They may have been bought by Brooks in 1919: a 'pair of capital brick and tiled cottages' appeared in lot 33, 'Lower Little Ease or Leigh Farm', of the July 1919 sale of 'outlying portions' of the Sergison Estate. 6

The cottages formed a simple two-storey-plus-attic block, square in plan and symmetrical, with dripmoulds over the windows, deep eaves, and a single chimney stack in the middle of the roof. Mackintosh designed a small, two-storey lean-to addition at the N.E. corner, completely utilitarian in appearance, incorporating a new entrance, staircase, small kitchen and bathroom. His drawings also show some new windows, and minor changes to the internal layout. Only the cage-like treatment of the staircase balustrade in the addition gives any hint of the individuality of the earlier Mackintosh. The work was carried out by local builder contractors Norman & Burt Ltd and was underway during April and May 1921. A few notes and records survive in the Norman & Burt records at the Royal Institute of British Architects. These include a typed 'Specifications of work' issued by Mackintosh and which includes guidance on issues such as materials and workmanship, maintenance, acts and bye-laws, insurance and materials. This is the only known survival of such a document for projects by Mackintosh or John Honeyman & Keppie / Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh. 7

The house was completely destroyed by a flying bomb on 18 August 1944. 8

Notes:

1: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: Mackintosh's diary, GLAHA 52408; Sketcher's Notebook, GLAHA 53015/40 (M344-004), GLAHA 53015/41 (M344-001), GLAHA 53015/42 (M344-003), GLAHA 53015/43 (M344-002).

2: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: Mackintosh's diary, GLAHA 52408.

3: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: Mackintosh's diary, GLAHA 52408.

4: Thomas Howarth, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Modern Movement, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 2nd edn, 1977, p. 214.

5: O.S., Sussex, TQ 22 (County Series 1:2500, 1st revision, 1897); O.S., Sussex XXVI/13, (25 inch, 2nd edn, 1911).

6: Chichester, West Sussex Records Office: Sergison Estate, Illustrated sale particular of outlying portions of the Sergison Estate proposed to be sold by auction at Goldings Hotel, Haywards Heath, by direction of Lieutenant-Colonel Bertram Norman Sergison-Brooke, 22 July 1919, Sergison 3/3/16. Information supplied by F. Lansley, 24 May 2013

7: London, Royal Institute of British Architects: Norman & Burt Ltd, RIBA Norman & Burt Box 3.

8: London, Royal Institute of British Architects: letter from O. R. D. Wallace/Wallis, Director, Norman & Burt, to Thomas Howarth, 6 December 1954, Norman & Burt Box 3.