Rutland House

A proposal for a large family country house in the Rutland countryside.

Establishing a contemporary country house design for modern family living. Developing a new proposal rooted in the history and traditions of the grand English country house, through a contemporary vision and scale appropriate for sustainable modern living. This large family house is located on a site that comprises approximately twenty acres of gently sloping hillside overlooking meadows and pasture land with mixed pine, birches and deciduous tree woodland, and hedgerows in Rutland.

The Eye Brook runs eastward through the site into the River Welland and falls within a conservation area adjacent a small boundaryless village. The site includes a grade 1 listed monument comprising the remains of a Saxon round house, establishing the site to be historically important. The site was previously occupied by a two-storey cottage, with low quality interventions that were undertaken ad hoc over time, with a number of large outbuildings including garaging, workshops, barn and a summer house, and a small lake and cottage gardens. The proposed development presented an opportunity to develop a house that cohesively considers the house, the site terrain, meadow and woodland and development of the natural water features considering the near landscape and gardens in the context of the setting.

Rutland House is positioned towards the top of the slope, facing North, and looking out over the parkland and the Eye Brook. The house is cut into the hill side, reducing the impact of the house in the landscape. The house comprises of a two storey main block accommodating functional living spaces on the ground floor with bedroom spaces to the first.  A single storey utilities block running east west is let into the hillside and is hidden from the Southern aspect and finished with a planted roof. The East and West elevations present concaved walls of symmetrical fenestration with a projecting central glazed kitchen room to the east court yard.  The eastern kitchen courtyard includes ornamental tree planted kitchen garden and adjoins the main site entrance and garaging. To the West side of the house a pool terrace is formed, set into the fall of the site developing a private courtyard with views over the meadow to the North. The Front (North) Elevation comprises of full height windows recessed to provide a terrace to the ground floor and a balcony to the first floor providing opportunity to appreciate the expansive views from the house over the surrounding meadows, lake and woodland

The main entrance to the house sits centrally into the ground floor North Elevation terrace and is approached by a formal stepped terrace with ornamental gardens to the front. The entrance lobby opens into a grand hallway to be used as a gathering and functional space housing the library and art connecting with every room. The hall is flooded with daylight through the grand two storey oriel window set to the South Elevation along with the top light through the first floor void and central roof light. A grand switch stair is set to the south end of the hall in front of the large oriel window

The house setting is enhanced through regrading of the sloped site and development of an ornamental lake created through land contouring and addition of sluice gates to the Eye Brook. The lake and ground contouring are developed to alleviate the downstream flooding issue.


Before the Industrial Revolution most wealth came from the land. Even aspirational nouveau riches Tudor lawyers and merchants liked to marry into the gentry for acquisition of country estates. Land gave security, status and a stake in county affairs. So money was lavished on the country houses from which great estates were run.

Often the most substantial house in a medieval village belonged to the lord of the manor. In East Anglia and northern England they were often called halls with great hall spaces often their central feature. They would also have a solar or chamber, a private room for the lord and his family, storerooms and a kitchen. The house or hall would include stables, a barn, dovecote and other farm buildings. Essentially comprising the chief farm of the manor. Often with a chapel or church alongside the complex and could be surrounded by a moat with a gatehouse. A castle would have been built by a baron or earl whom may have owned many manors, often in several counties.

The dissolution of the Catholic Church was a bonanza both for the established aristocracy and Tudor new men hungry for lands. Monasteries were seized and sacked and often developed into grand houses and estates. Courtiers to the Elizabethan or Jacobean Court built on a palatial scale to accommodate the monarch and royal entourage on their progresses around the country. By the 18th century castles, monasteries and lands had been transformed into grand country houses and estates with such families often having a town house in London, Dublin or Edinburgh.

Those ambitious, seeking royal favour or a part in government needed to live part of the year away from their country estates. The more modest country squire looked after his acres, played a part in local government, and improved his manor house as finances permitted. The more prosperous the family, the more likely they were to replace an older house with a grand new Georgian mansion in parkland, often with a gatehouse. The manor farm was often completely separated from the manor house by this time.

Reducing the mansion out buildings needed to a stable block and coach house. Other outbuildings could include an ice house, conservatory, and other garden buildings from the mundane to the decorative.

As the fortunes of industrial magnates and the merchant classes began to eclipse wealth from land, some country estates were sold to another generation of nouveau riches, or maintained by marriages to merchant heiresses. The result was much Victorian remodelling of country houses and a wave of new ones built in mock-Gothic or other nostalgic styles. As taxation levels and wage bills rose over the first half of the 20th century, many of the grandest country houses became redundant and financially unsupportable. Some great houses were demolished. Others have been preserved through opening them to the public, or other commercial ventures or through families granting them to the National Trust.


Developing a narrative for the grand modern country house through sampling the traditions and history of the of the grand English Country House viewed in a modern context identifying the core values of sustainability, locality, context , health, wellbeing and homeliness.

Materials: Locally sourced materials, developing local character texture and colouring, converted into construction products, employing the skilled craftsmen of the area through using cutting edge technology from the period, developing a simple pallet of materials in context with the site and region and traditions of the grand English houses. Ornament: The seeking and selective application of highly decorative luxurious finishes, items and furnishing and planting sourced from around the world to aesthetically enhance the architecture and interiors for comfort and status and to please the eye of the beholder delivering wonderment. Hall: The setting out of the great entrance hall to be a functional space and gathering room to develop a beating heart to the house about which all other living rooms are accessed. Day Light: To bring into the house in every living space day light and natural air through windows and roof lights developing a sense of wellbeing and healthy living connecting the house and inhabitants to the land.

Function: The development of the house based around functional activities of living and entertaining separating gathering, sitting, eating, entertaining, play, sleeping into connected separate spaces to create a contemporary practical home that may be simply managed. Context: To develop the house considerately in harmony with the site and landscape that benefits and enhances the site, making best use of the land through harmonising the house and the natural landscape through selective placement and editing. Technology: To maximise the use of technology to develop sustainable solutions to the benefit of the environment and occupant. Design: To bring a new and contemporary language to the modern country house through contemporary design, borrowing spiritual aspects and ideas from great historical halls and houses without resource to pastiche. Architecture: To develop simple visual solutions through an open , inclusive and structured process considering site, materials, technology, aesthetic proportions, materials, colouring and textures in the context of the place. Home: To create a welcoming comfortable appropriate family home for modern living and entertaining. A family seat that is contemporary whilst based in the traditions of the English Country house, being sustainable and comfortable. A home.

Moss Architecture .

Interiors Ltd