In Basingstoke, a historic town in the county of Hampshire, about 50 miles southwest of London, is a small (just 923 square feet) lodge house for sale. A striking example of Gothic Revival architecture, the Grade II listed residence was built around 1857 for the keeper of the local cemetery. That’s right, the house is next to the cemetery. But for many people, that is not a turn-off. Quiet neighborhood, as they say. The fancifully embellished, pin-drop quiet lodge is available for about $670,000 via Shaun Hobbs at Knight Frank.
The façade is composed of what’s known as “mathematical tiles,” glazed tiles used in the south of England instead of brick. The etymology of “mathematical” is unknown, although the term might refer to the precise geometric pattern created by them. The house also features Gothic pointed windows and exuberant wooden barge boards (the trim on the gables).
So what exactly was the Gothic Revival? During the late 18th century, classical architecture, that is, Greek and Roman, was what was admired in Britain and the United States. As they do, the fashion changed and in the 1830s, a young English architect called Augustus Pugin was working in the antiquated Gothic style of the Middle Ages. The pious Pugin wondered why what he considered the best sorts of architecture were “pagan” and thousands of years old. By publishing books as well as taking on high profile commissions, his ideas about Gothic Revival became more and more popular until it was the dominant style by the 1850s. Pugin’s best known work are the Houses of Parliament in London, which were rebuilt after a fire, and his best-known book is “The True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture.”
So when this lodge came to be, it was built in the height of the time’s architectural fashion. Today, it’s perfect for a single or a couple comfortable in cozy quarters. There are two bedrooms, one of them on the wee side, one bathroom with a shower (no tub), a small kitchen open to the stone-paved dining room, and a sitting room with an elegant carved fireplace. Outside, there’s a detached workshop, a private patio, and a slender, bridge-like terrace that spans the driveway.
Another interesting fact is that the house was the birthplace of poet, broadcaster and cricket commentator John Arlott (1914 – 1991), whose father was at the time the cemetery keeper.