Reginald Fairfax Wells 1877 – 29 June 1951, was a sculptor and a potter who decided to turned his talents to architecture, and created the now sought after “Wells cottages”.
Wells came to my attention recently when I visited a client in West Chiltington, West Sussex who lives in one of the 60-70 cottages that are situated there.
Every house is unique. Wells built the cottages in the style of a house from the 1700’s, not at all like the modern art deco style buildings of that period.
What really interested me about Reginald was that he loved to use reclaimed materials. Apparently he would use anything he could get his hands on from railway sleepers and railway track to bits of roof tiles, mis-matched bricks and timber, and throw it all together in a wonderful arts and crafts style.
Every Wells cottage had a studio in the garden, a large higgledy-piggledy hobbit like dwelling for the resident to use for artistic endeavour. Many of the early Wells cottage inhabitants were said to be famous actors and artists down from London who would come to the country retreat with their friends for wild parties and a creative refuge away form the big city. Originally the houses had no services, water came from an actual well in the garden and they were difficult to get to without proper roads. All of this added to the appeal of “roughing it” in the country for the weekend.
All the properties were built on large plots with big gardens, the gardens were landscaped in the same arts and crafts style with lovely curved paths and random steps beautifully crafted from stone and brick, and it’s this style that my client wants to reflect with the landscaping for the recently renovated property.
Although the Wells cottages look very old, none of the properties are listed (I’m pretty sure) which makes modernising them much easier, which adds to their popularity.
The plan is to re pave an existing terrace which has been laid to high on the DPC(and hopefully uncover some of the original paving), create a new paved terrace where the existing lawn is struggling and build a long retaining wall on a steep bank in the garden which will create a flat surface to cut the new hedge from.
The challenge is to emulate the spirit of the Wells cottage with some re-claimed materials, we can re-use a lot of what’s there and hopefully create something that will stand the test of time.
I read somewhere that the appeal of the wells cottage was their ability blend seamlessly and sympathetically into the surrounding landscape which is what I will try to achieve with this project.
All the properties were built with thatched roofs but most have now been tiled.
All the properties had the signature “eyebrow” windows.
Many of the properties have had large extensions built on them over the years.