Historic house near Lewes given Grade II listed status

A historic house near Lewes has been given Grade II listed status by Historic England.

Friday, 22nd May 2020, 10:23 am
Updated Friday, 22nd May 2020, 11:00 am

Bentley Wood in Halland was built in 1938 by Russian-born British architect Serge Chermayeff for himself and his family.

The house, which sits in approximately 18 acres, with breathtaking views over fields towards the South Downs, is considered to be one of the most important buildings constructed during the interwar period.

It is now recognised for its architectural and historic significance on the National Heritage List for England.

Bentley Wood near Lewes. Picture: Historic England

Emily Gee, Historic England’s director for London and the South East, commented: “Bentley Wood is a key building designed by a major figure in English modernism and over 80 years later is still a striking contemporary home.

“It has served as inspiration for generations of architects, critics and fans of the Modern Movement and its special interest is being celebrated and recognised by it being added to the List.”

The house was designed in 1936 and built two years later, Historic England said.

It is renowned for its ageless geomerty and has full-height sliding doors, split levels and semi-open plan arrangement.

Bentley Wood was one of a small number of modernist timber houses built in England before the Second World War.

At time time, timber was increasingly seen as an appropriate material for modern architecture, attractive for its practicality and scope for prefabrication.

Bentley Wood has undergone extensive alterations over the years, Historic England said.

The house was assessed for listing in 2002, but was turned down because of these ‘unsympathetic’ alterations that damaged architect Chermayeff’s original vision.

However, Historic England said a number of these alterations have been reversed thanks to the careful work of the most recent owner and the architect’s intention is now clear to see again.

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