The perfect house
19 October 2010
What a weekend. It’s been a hectic few days – following the wonderful cabinet opening (more will follow in a day or two) I was down to Dorset… where I think we had one of the most beautiful weekends of the year.
On Saturday, between Dorchester and the coast, we took the road past Waddon House, still, haunting, standing tall on the hillside, pale lichen-crusted Purbeck stone walls shining in the brilliant sunshine.
I think that Waddon may be the most perfect house in England. I have strong memories of it from my childhood when we lived not far away. Once a grand H-shaped Caroline house, fire destroyed the central bays and left hand wing, leaving this solitary, beautiful building which I think has one of the most perfectly proportioned facades I know, and is all the more poignant for being a fragment. It would be a wonderful building to measure.
Now, the central garden gate and its piers lead nowhere. A mysterious door in the basement is silent. Turning around, we look across salt misted hills down to the Fleet. To our left, a beautiful barn… stone mullioned windows and thatch in quiet contrast to the tall sash windows, white painted cornice and stone quoins of the main house.
We stopped, and wondered, and felt we were in a dream.
Even better… it turns out you can stay at Waddon. If it wasn’t quite so close to home, I would be booking in now.