"The Temple of Costly Experience" Patrick Gwynne (1913-2003) Architect of The Homewood

  • Sarah Howard

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


The architect Patrick Alban Gwynne (1913-2003) designed The Homewood for his parents in 1938 at the age of 24. An immensely private man, Gwynne ran his life, his home and his architectural practice in a meticulous manner quite separate from the mainstream modernist architects of his day.In Modern Houses in Britain, Jeremy Gould considers The Homewood to be one of the finest modern houses in terms of composition and detailing. It is an accomplished translation of Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye with an elegantly English flavour. Gwynne acknowledged the stylistic influences of his former employer Wells Coates, but whereas an idealistic functionalism was a component of Coates’s architecture, Gwynne took an elegant approach to his work, which was domestic and client led. He created a sensual, more decorative modernism that lay somewhere between the idealism of the Modern Movement and a still extant English tradition.Architectural history emphasises wider reassessments of Modernism during the Interwar period and the thesis is an opportunity to reflect on the development of an architect and his architectural ideas for a series of unique houses for his clients. The seamless integration of The Homewood with the Modern Movement and the country house idiom is crucial to the research and Gwynne merged the two, ensuring that every detail was specific to his tastes. The house was a testing ground for new materials and architectural processes and has been described as Gwynne’s “design laboratory’. The Homewood’s acquisition by the National Trust has ensured that Gwynne’s home and his collection are secure for the future and will continue to be a testament to his abiding interest in high-quality craftsmanship, his attention to detail and a lifetime of changing tastes of one individual. The thesis will enhance Gwynne’s recognition in British architectural history and the house will be used as a point of reference to chart the progression of his elegant style and understand his work in greater depth.
Date of Award23 Sept 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorMark Wilson Jones (Supervisor)

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