Udney Park Road 36

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36 Udney Park Road
36 Udney Park Road
36 Udney Park Road

Road: Udney Park Road

Property: 36

"Detached 2-storey house built after 1932. This house was built of old bricks and timber to give an "olde worlde" effect. Small latticed windows, tiled roof & integral garage." TeddSoc 1975.

See following notes on no. 36 provided by the current (2017) owners and on both nos. 36 & 38 put together by David Schenck of Horley from his research on the houses' distinguished Horley, Surrey Architect Blunden Shadbolt (1879–1949) Lic.R.I.B.A.


Architect with the Eye of an Artist

Born in an affluent area of Wandsworth in 1879, Blunden Shadbolt had a singularly unfortunate childhood. When he was only two years of age he lost his father, a timber merchant who specialized in mahogany. Devastated and unsettled, his family moved to three different towns over the next few years. As a young boy he was of mild and rather timid disposition, so that when he attended school, he was subjected to bullying. Thankful when his school days ended, he found employment with a firm of architects in Chelmsford. In 1898, Blunden, moved with his mother and two elder sisters from Sudbury, Suffolk to Horley in Surrey where he was articled to architect and surveyor, Arthur Kelway Bamber, who had recently moved to Horley from Chelmsford. However, for reasons unknown, Bamber left Horley in the following year and Blunden was forced to travel to London to complete his training with the far more experienced architect, George A. Hall, a Fellow of the British Institute of Architects whose office was in Victoria Street, London. By the end of 1899, he had returned to Horley and by 1901, had completed work on several houses, the designs of which were typical of the period. But what of the amazing multi-gabled, timber-framed buildings with their complex roof structures for which he later achieved renown? Blunden was a deeply religious man of outstanding integrity and was strongly influenced by the lovely rural surroundings that he found while working in Newdigate, Rusper and other villages around Horley. He loved God and he loved Nature and having observed that nothing in nature was completely straight, he determined that his timber-framed houses should be likewise and so be in complete harmony with the trees around them! Only ancient bricks, stone, tiles and oak beams were used in the construction of these homes and every effort was made to avoid a ‘mechanical’ appearance. His builders were not permitted to use plumb lines, so that the vertical accuracy of the construction depended entirely on the judgement of the eyes. Similarly, rows of bricks were deliberately set slightly out of line and the ridges of roofs distorted to give the appearance of having sagged with age. Any moss growing on the old tiles was carefully preserved, so that on the day of completion, his timber-framed houses appeared in a style aptly described by one historian as ‘wibbly-wobbly’. These homes not only appeared ancient, but were genuinely ancient on the very day of their completion. Bricklayers were often reluctant to work on the buildings that Shadbolt designed in this style, for fear that, because of the uneven nature of the bricklaying, their future employment prospects might be jeopardised. It was said by a builder of the time that some bricklayers who worked on these buildings, even took to covering their faces, so that they would not be recognised. Such was Blunden Shadbolt’s talent and attention to detail that, in years long past, several of his houses were believed to be centuries old and inadvertently classified as ‘Listed Buildings’. Today, a growing number of his houses have been ‘Listed’ and ‘Graded’ by Local Councils with full knowledge of the year of construction, but on their own merits and because they were designed by Blunden Shadbolt. It is important to note that not all the timbered houses designed by Blunden Shadbolt were built in this ‘wibbly-wobbly’ style, as this would depend on the wishes and financial resources of each customer and Blunden’s own consideration of the area surrounding the proposed site. Typical features found on Shadbolt’s ‘wibbly-wobbly’ timber-framed properties are:– complex multi-gabled roofs; roof ridges that appear to have sagged with age; catslide roofs – having one side longer that the other; upper rooms that overhang the room below; minstrel’s galleries; exterior brickwork deliberately laid out of true horizontal and vertical alignment; walls of rooms not truly vertical or square to one another; massive chimneys, often on outer walls and inglenook fireplaces, some having a small window in the inglenook. A few of his houses feature an oriel window. Blunden was greatly encouraged by the sales and enquiries that had resulted from exhibiting his nature-blending show homes in the Ideal Home Exhibitions of 1924 and 1926 and now 48 years of age, he married Joyce Woodward Court in the Solihull, District of Warwickshire, on 2nd August 1927. They then returned to live above Blunden’s office at 32, Victoria Road, Horley, where they remained until early in 1930, by which time he had decided to build a family home for his wife and first daughter on the one and a half acres of orchard covered land that he had acquired in 1929. The beautiful timbered-framed home and office that he built on this land was aptly named Orchards and it was completed in 1930. During the ensuing period, Blunden Shadbolt’s reputation spread further afield and, by 1939, his timber-framed properties were to be found in Barns Green (near Horsham); Betchworth; Blindley Heath; Bognor Regis; Charlwood; Copthorne; County Oak (near Crawley); Danbury, Essex; Esher; Haslemere; Highgate; Hindhead; Hope (in Derbyshire); Horley; Kingston; Lowfield Heath (near Crawley); Margate; Maidenhead; Mill Hill, (London); Newchapel (near Lingfield); Newdigate; Newhaven; North Lancing; Outwood; Oxshott, Leatherhead; Peasmarsh (near Battle); Petersham; Pinner; Pyrford Green; Reigate; Rusper; Salfords; Watford and Worth (near Crawley, Sussex). Blunden Shadbolt was qualified both as an Architect and a Structural Engineer, so that during WWII, his time was almost entirely taken up advising on the structural repairs of buildings damaged by bombing, and when the war ended in 1945, he finally retired. Tragically, Blunden died during the summer of 1949, when he was knocked off his bicycle by a car. He was then 70 years of age. An architect who turned his dreams into delightful reality, Blunden Shadbolt was the most generous of men, to whom “having money” was simply not the most important thing in his life. His love of God and of Nature is reflected in the beauty of his buildings and we are indeed fortunate that he left such a wonderful legacy in this south-eastern corner of England. © David H. J. Schenck Revised 20th August 2017 david.schenck790@btinternet.com You are welcome to share this mini-biography with others providing it remains complete and unaltered.


Owners' notes (2017)

Over our 20 years ownership we we have added and altered the house to suit our lifestyle. Many older buildings are no longer fit for purpose and there are many ways of improving them The house is much admired by passers by and we have been very happy living here. Purists might not approve of some of our changes but we believe that the essential charm is still there. Let us take you through the main changes. The house in 1997 was very small and the living room dominated by a large inglenook. A back addition had been converted to a bathroom. The kitchen was very basic and the equipment past its best. To maximise the space we added a conservatory to the back, restored the bathroom to living space and removed one wall. The re equipped kitchen was opened up into an open plan ground floor. Sandstone cladding was installed around the rather ugly corbelled chimney and an open gas fire inserted .Central heating and underfloor heating was installed. The whole of the ground floor was re-surfaced with a light coloured hardwood which makes the place much brighter. We created a scullery using part of the kitchen and divided it to add a wet room / toilet accessed from the hallway . On the first floor, some of the windows were so highly positioned that one could not see out without standing on tip toe so we had some of the rear windows lowered. The back addition provided a roof terrace accessed by a door from one of the two bedrooms, providing a pretty, sunny spot particularly in the afternoon particularly. The fireplace in the second bedroom has been hidden to create much needed cupboards. The pitched ceiling on this floor was originally just rafters, liner and tiles, contributing to massive heat loss so it was lined with simple white painted MDF, becoming much less visually 'busy'. Between the two bedrooms was a bathroom plus toilet. We installed a downstairs comby boiler , releasing enough space to put in a separate WC. The garage at the front was too small for any modern car so it has become a study. The original doors were replaced by double glazing. We also replaced some of the leaded light windows with double glazing. But we had to work within our budgets and - as artists we took decisions according to our taste but mainly practical reasons. Leaded windows reduce the light coming in through the small openings, they interrupt the precious view outwards and they were in bad condition, letting in the cold and expensive to replace. Recently we built a second conservatory on the North side of the house. This now serves as a gallery to which the public are permitted.To the rear are ponds and a deck area. So as you can see we have done a great deal of work to make our charming 'Wibbly Wobbly" cottage liveable while preserving enough of the original character.


DAVID SCHENCK NOTES ON TIMBER FRAMING ETC

Tudor Style Houses: It soon became apparent that Blunden Shadbolt had a strong leaning towards the use of exposed timberwork on the exterior walls of his houses in what was known generally as “Tudor Style”. However, there was more than one constructional method of achieving this result, so it important to explain the ways in which architects used timber in their designs.

Timber-Framed or ‘Half-Timbered’ Houses: The centuries-old process of timber-framing was a method of construction, the enduring qualities of which have been long proven, as is evidenced by the many ancient timber-framed homes that are still to be seen in so many towns and villages of England – and even more so in Germany, where the process is called ‘Fachwerk’. Once the oaken framework had been completed and erected, the open spaces (panels) between the beams were filled with “wattle and daub” – this involved vertical branches of very flexible wattle (acacia) being interwoven horizontally with thinner branches. The thicker, vertical branches were fitted into holes drilled in the horizontal beams at the head and foot of each panel, while the horizontal branches were fitted into slots in the sides of the panel. The resulting interwoven fillings were then daubed with ‘clay mud’ mixed with straw and/or hair to complete the panel filling, which was later whitened to contrast with the dark beams.

However, by the early 1900s, the wattle and daub process was giving away to panels being infilled with bricks and it was based on the idea that the materials used in the construction of the exterior walls were half of timber and half of brick, that led to these houses being referred as being “half-timbered”.

In this construction process, several courses of brick or stone are laid on the foundations to form a base for the timber frames. Then, sawn or hewn beams, mostly of oak, are cut with mortice and tenon joints, each of which is individually marked with a ‘Carpenter’s Mark’, as a guide to the assembly of the frame. The bottom beam, of the frame, called the ‘sill beam’, is placed on a layer of mortar on top of the brick or stone wall. All the frames are then assembled in an upright position and the mortice and tenon joints firmly secured with wooden pegs known as studs. The photo-graph on the right, taken early in 1924, shows a part-completed frame with several panels in the process of being filled with bricks and a small, leaded-light window, already fitted in its frame, during the construction of Brockholt, a lovely timber-framed home in the village of Salfords, near Redhill, Surrey. This photograph is taken from an article by Captain P.A. Barron, published in the former Town & Country Homes magazine in June 1925, less than a year after the house was completed. The article was found in Blunden Shadbolt’s briefcase. Note the massive, gnarled bresummer (crossbeam) that defines the front of the inglenook fireplace. Once the brickwork supporting the ends of this bresummer has been built, then it will have to bear the weight of brickwork up to, at least, ceiling height and often higher.

When creating his timber-framed homes, Shadbolt preferred to use variations of a colourful mix of stock bricks, including red, purple, yellow and even black, as if discoloured by soot from a chimney. This gentle colour-mix blended well with the countryside as may be seen in the entry for Brockholt on page….. However, many owners or successive owners of these houses have since elected to paint the exteriors of their homes in a wide variety of colours, but mainly white, cream or pink masonry paint.

Imitation or “Faux”-Timber-Framed Houses: Many people loved the romantic look of timber-framed homes, but in the 1920s and 30s, they were somewhat more expensive than the average conventionally built home and not everybody could afford one. However, it is evident that there was a clear demand for houses that looked just like a timber-framed building, but at a lower price – and this led to the creation of “Imitation Timber-framed” houses or, as they came to be known, “Faux-timbered” houses, or more recently “Neo-Tudor”, but this term also applies to timber-framed houses designed after the early 1920s. Although Blunden Shadbolt is best known for his timber-framed homes, he also designed even more houses that were faux-timbered as opposed to being timber framed.

In the faux-timber process, sawn planks of about 4 inches wide and 1¼ inches thick were cut to the required length and sometimes shaped to a curve and nailed to the brickwork in the form of panels. The spaces within the panels were then rendered with a mortar infill and the depth aligned with the face of the timbers. Unlike timber-framed houses, the timberwork has no structural function at all.

Even from a short distance, faux-timbered homes looked just like timber-framed buildings, and the introduction of even cheaper, semi-detached versions of faux-timbered homes, designed for middleclass owners, led to their becoming immensely popular, so that by the 1930s, they could be found in the leafy lanes of many towns and villages, especially in the south-east of England. Similarly, detached faux-timbered homes designed for the more affluent, also gained considerable popularity. Early in the same period, Blunden Shadbolt designed eleven unattached, faux-timbered homes, each on half-acre plots, in Dayseys, Lane Outwood, Surrey. All the houses had four bedrooms, three reception rooms, a bathroom, kitchen, coal cellar and attached garage and the selling price was £1250.

From time to time, articles have appeared that containing disparaging comments about faux-timbered houses. This simply cannot be justified, for one only has to see the entry for The Coppice in Reigate, Surrey to understand just how fine these homes can be.

Decorative Timbers: Such timbers are mostly seen in the gables of houses and vary widely in design. In effect, these are planks of wood about one and a quarter inches thick, that have been shaped as required and nailed to the gable wall. Then, as in faux-timbered houses, the spaces between them are rendered with a mortar infill and aligned with the face of the timbers. They are purely decorative and have no structural function at all.



This page is part of the Directory of Buildings of Townscape Merit (BTMs) and Listed Buildings in Teddington assembled by the Planning and History Groups of The Teddington Society. Click on any photo for a higher resolution version. Copyright for the material on this page rests with the contributor.