Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Lyme Regis, Dorset
Here comes the sun
While I was at Lyme, most of the buildings that caught my eye were more substantial structures than the beach huts in my previous post. One of my favourites is this house on Marine Parade, facing the sea. It's a lovely building mainly of blue lias masonry and the design, with mullioned windows, decorative leadwork, emphatic bay, and rubble walls with dressed quoins and windows, suggests the hand of an architect who followed the Arts and Crafts movement. And so it proves. This house is the design of the Scottish architect Arnold Mitchell, who worked as a young man in the 1880s for Ernest George and Peto, one of the most successful London practices of the time, where he would have seen some stunning houses on the drawing board and imbibed a range of influences – Queen Anne, Arts and Crafts, Flemish revival, and so on. When Mitchell eventually set up on his own he had, from the evidence of this building, acquired some of George and Peto's assurance.
The house dates from 1903 and stands out from the white- and pink-washed buildings, mostly rather lower, that surround it, on some of which Mitchell also worked. It's a building that wants to insist that it's at home here, though – the wall at the bottom is studded with ammonites, one of the types of fossil that makes this place famous among palaeontologists. The most stunning feature, though, is the sundial. The glorious scrolling foliage and characterful head of Sol himself make this feature, generously large, stand out to the full. The lettering is good too, especially the motto at the bottom, which completes the frame. The whole relief is wonderfully fitting for this coastal setting, on a house looking confidentially out to sea.