A long-awaited revision to the world-renowned Pevsner Architectural Guide to Surrey has added a number of new buildings of historical and architectural significance from around the county, including Wilky Group business centre, Fetcham Park, near Leatherhead.
Charles O’Brien, the series editor of the Pevsner Architectural Guides, visited the House during Heritage Open Day in 2021 as part of his extensive research across the county. His entry explains the history behind the origins of the House, completed in 1706 by William Talman for his client Arthur Moore M.P., comptroller of Army accounts and director of the East India Company.
Particular attention is paid to many of the elaborate decorative features including the magnificent staircase murals by Louis Laguerre, with a mention of the original gardens by George London, and details of the various changes of ownership and subsequent restoration over the years.
Sir John Evelyn, 1st Baronet (1 March 1682 – July 1763) of Wotton, Surrey, a British official and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1708 to 1710, who praised the House in 1719 as “a ‘sweet place’, ‘in adorning of which gardens, statues, canals etc. no cost has been spared’, is also mentioned.
Pevsner Architectural Guides
Originally written by the architectural historian Sir Nikolas Pevsner, the Pevsner Architectural Guides provide an up-to-date portable guide to the most significant buildings in every part of the country, suitable for both general reader and specialist.
Pevsner’s Buildings of England series, which began in 1951, became his life’s work and his seal of approval was synonymous with the British establishment. Each volume provides an introductory overview of the architecture of the area, followed by a descriptive gazetteer arranged alphabetically by place. The books demonstrate the enjoyable diversity of architecture in the British Isles in accounts of rural churches and farmsteads, Victorian public buildings and industrial monuments.
A New Look at Surrey
The first edition of the Buildings of England volume for Surrey was published in 1962, co-authored by Pevsner and Ian Nairn. In November 2022, Surrey-born Charles O’Brien’s first fully revised edition since 1971 was published.
The anticipated revision sparked national news with articles running in both The Times and The Telegraph, the latter by Leatherhead-born Christopher Howse who, sixty years on, revisited his childhood home to re-examine the findings of Pevsner, his co-author Ian Nairn, and now Charles O’Brien.
An Audience at Fetcham Park
To mark the launch of the revised volume, O’Brien was joined by 60 guests in the Salon at Fetcham Park to talk about the history of the series – of which he has researched, edited and written several volumes since 1997 – and the tasks of revision, as well as some discoveries that have come to light in the course of research.
For the latest Surrey edition, he has revisited every part of the county and hundreds of buildings to bring the guide up to date and expand its coverage.
Kate Ainsworth, house manager, at Fetcham Park says, “We are delighted to see Fetcham Park included in the new revision of Surrey (The Buildings of England) in the Pevsner Architectural Guide series. While the history and design of the House are both interesting and significant, Fetcham Park remains one of Surrey’s best-kept secrets.
Thanks to the recent work of local historian, Vivien White, we have discovered even more of the fascinating story of the House which she was able to share with Charles O’Brien during his research.”
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