Saturday 11th November and the first of our talks to be held at our new venue, Aylesbury’s Methodist Church Centre, proved to be very interesting.
Thank you, Alison, for introducing us to the context in which Modernist architecture developed in the town. She concentrated on Amyas Connell’s High and Over in Amersham, which led the way ahead of more famous sites you might know such as Lubetkin’s Highpoint in Highgate. Just as interesting was how the house has fared over time. As it has remained in private ownership, going from a single dwelling, being controversially divided into a pair of semis in the 1960s and then reinstated in recent years with many original features uncovered and restored, it could so easily have been demolished. Its singularity and design features have made it especially difficult to maintain and the restrictions of its heritage status only add to that. What a shame that the various elements of a modern interpretation of a country house garden are mostly lost (apart from the hollow and pool), denying us the opportunity to see the garden’s evolution, and reminding us to persevere with the task of recognising and preserving innovative 20th century gardens and landscapes.
The interest continued with Alison revealing the Amersham buildings, both private and public, built in this ‘Moderne’ tradition in the 1960s and ’70s, and even the recent remodelling of a home along these principles hidden away in Chesham Bois. Alison’s talk reminded me to keep my eyes open rather than taking the buildings along my High Street for granted.
Our new venue was bright and warm and had plenty of space for both listening to the talk and for chatting afterwards while consuming those lovely cakes. The chairs were particularly comfortable! I am looking forward to David Marsh’s talk on ’Puzzle picture. Louise Keil
Editors Note: A return trip to John Betjeman’s Metro-land, 50 years on from his classic TV documentary