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Greyfriars, Hog's Back, Surrey

Date: 1896

Client: Julian Sturgis

Listing: Grade II* (main house)


Image of Greyfriars stables & lodge from The British architect, April 29th 1898.

Also known as Merlshanger and Wancote.

The entry in Pevsner's Surrey (with Charles O'Brien, Ian Nairn and Bridget Cherry, 2022) reads:

GREYFRIARS. ½ m. NE. One of Voysey’s best houses, built in 1896-8 for the American librettist and novelist Julian Sturgis and known originally as Merlshanger, later as Wancote. It has the same superb position as Greys, facing S just under the brow of the Hog’s Back. However, the long, low, narrow, roughcast house ties itself self-effacingly into the landscape, and the pleasure to be got in walking around it is that of a continuous interchange between building and landscape without any single view that can be analysed in detail. The garden side is a terrace with a magnificent view S, a long range, roughly half of which is the service wing, terminated by a cross-gable at the W end, which continued down in a long slop around a flat chimney, a thrilling effect lost to the W extension on 1914 (datestone) for Sturgis’s widow, work attributed to Herbert Baker. [Footnote says “Writing on unsigned drawings for this addition at the RIBA appear to be in Baker’s hand”]. He also laid out the garden with stone steps to the W. The garden door is off-centre and flanked by two square projecting bays; the l. one for the library under the cross-gable is full height, sandstone, with a three-tier grid of vertical, rectangular openings. Roof between the bays for a veranda. The same vertical windows in strips below the eaves along the rest of the front. This side faces a short strip of lawn as an intermediary between house and view. The entrance side was always less satisfactory and more heavily altered in 1914. Voysey’s varied elevation of cross-gable at one end and stubby tower (cf. Prior’s Field, Hurtmore; it had a finial originally) at the other marking the corner of the service wing was flattened out by infilling along the main range with new gable and creating a porch in a deep recess under a classical hood (the reset door however is unmistakable Voysey’s own). Inside, some of Voysey’s typical doors and fireplaces. The library fittings are now routine classical by Baker, who extended this room E into the space of Voysey’s stair hall. Baker’s staircase, with turned balusters, is in his projection on the NW Corner, and on the upper landing are classical columns.

GATEHOUSE and STABLES from the Hog’s Back by Voysey, the gatehouse originally with projecting eaves and a shallow domed roof with finial above the Tudorish carriage arch.

Page last amended 20th September 2023