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Who was Sir Edwin Lutyens?

Edwin Lutyens from Edwin Lutyens TrustEdwin Lutyens is often referred to as "the greatest British architect". He was born in London in 1869 and as a child had rheumatic fever which meant he stayed at home rather than attending public school with his brothers. Home tutored and discouraged from doing anything too rigorous he sort solace in buildings and enjoyed watching the process involved in the different stages of building works.

In 1885 he enrolled at the National Art Training School in South Kensington to study architecture, but left after just two years without completing the course. He then became an articled pupil of Ernest George and Harold Ainsworth Peto in London, but stayed for only a year before setting up his own practice at the age of 19.

Around this time he met Gertrude Jekyll, who had a huge influence on his success. She introduced him to many of his clients and, in particular, to Edward Hudson, editor of Country Life, who greatly enhanced Lutyens' career. He also designed a new home for Jekyll, Munstead Wood near Godalming in Surrey, which was critically acclaimed, and led to many other commissions.

Initially Lutyens designs followed the Arts and Crafts style, but in the early 1900s his work became more classical. His commissions were extremely varied from private houses to two churches for the new Hampstead Garden Suburb in London, to Julius Drewe's Castle Drogo near Drewsteignton in Devon and on to his contributions to India's new imperial capital New Delhi (where he worked as chief architect with Herbert Baker among others). Here, in New Delhi, his style evolved again to add elements of local Indian architectural styles to his classicism.

Before the end of World War I, he was appointed as one of three principal architects for the Imperial War Graves Commission and was involved in the creation of many monuments to commemorate the dead. The best known of these are the Cenotaph in Whitehall, Westminster and the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, Thiepval.

We understand that the remodelling of The Square was undertaken in 1906 as a favour to H A Brassey, a railway baron, who’s own home, Copse Hill, was also remodelled by Lutyens at this time.

Lutyens was knighted in 1918, received the Gold Medal of the RIBA in 1921 and was made President of the Royal Academy in 1938. He was married to Lady Emily Bulwer-Lytton and had five children. He died in London in 1944.

For further information, please visit the Lutyens Trust website.

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