Home Farm, Hartforth, Yorkshire
Friday, August 31, 2012
Reflections of Country Life: Home Farm, Hartforthan exclusive portrait of SirJosslyn Gore-Booth and his new house including an interview with Home Farm, Hartforth architect Digby Harris and a critique by Dr John Martin Robinson
Home Farm, Hartforth, Yorkshire
The new house at Hartforth is a splendid design in the Yorkshire Georgian tradition of eighteenth century architects like William Kent, Daniel Garrett, James Paine, or John Carr of York. This was a tradition which had been kept alive by the late Francis Johnson of Bridlington who had trained as an architect at Leeds University and started in practice in 1933. Francis was a survival of the earlier twentieth century Classical Revival, and he designed or restored many country houses in his native county. The architectural firm and the tradition have been kept going since Francis Johnson’s death by his younger partner notably Digby Harris who designed the Home Farm at Hartforth.
The idea of a house with one front Gothic and one Palladian has various eighteenth century precedents notably Castle Goring in Sussex and Castle Ward in Northern Ireland. The immediate inspiration at Hartforth was a ‘Design for an Ideal House’, with one front Gothick and one Palladian, which Francis Johnson had sketched in 1943 to wile away the time before being called up into the army during the Second World War. It is particularly appropriate at Hartforth as the plain Palladian entrance front relates to the severe eighteenth century stone-built architecture of the quadrangle surrounded by farm buildings on that side, while the Gothick of the garden front overlooking the landscape is appropriate as a parkland eye-catcher framed in trees. There was an eighteenth century tradition in the area, and particularly at Hartforth itself, of dressing the estate farm buildings in Gothick guise. There are also major Gothick buildings nearby in the Culloden Tower (by Garrett) at Richmond and the Oliver Duckett folly (by Kent) at Aske Hall. And there are several splendid Georgian model farm buildings on the estate of Sir Josslyn’s uncle at Raby Castle nearby.
The new house replaces a simple early nineteenth century stone farmhouse of no architectural merit on the same site. Unlike its undistinguished predecessor, Digby Harris’s design for the new house is a delightful addition to the estate landscape at Hartforth, and a worthy eye-catcher in the park. It is beautifully proportioned and solidly executed in local sandstone.
The interior is notable for its compact and convenient planning and beautiful detailing, notably the sweeping central staircase under a top-lit dome. It has all the comfort of a small modern house with some of the splendour of a ‘stately home,’ making it an appropriate setting for the retained heirlooms from Sir Josslyn’s old family home at Lissadell in Ireland. It was the winner of the Georgian Group Award for the Best New Building in a Georgian Context two years ago; the house is a testament to the taste and judgement of both client and architect who worked constructively together to create this notably distinguished new design.
John Martin Robinson
The above 2012 © Manner of Man Magazine. All rights reserved. Reproduction is strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher