This section is from the book "Modern Buildings, Their Planning, Construction And Equipment Vol1", by G. A. T. Middleton. Also available from Amazon: Modern Buildings.
Houses for the middle class differ from those of the working community in so marked an extent that an entirely different system of planning is necessary. Even in the smallest middle-class house the work of the house is done by a servant, who, though closely supervised and probably assisted by her mistress, lives apart from the family. Such a house, however cottage-like it may be in appearance, is consequently a dual dwelling, essentially different from the cottage proper, in which all the work is done by the housewife.
The family require at least two sitting-rooms, one for meals and the other for recreation, while the servant lives in the kitchen. Even very small houses of this description need four bedrooms, one having to be given to the servant, while a separate bathroom on the bedroom floor is a necessity to modern life, with hot and cold water service.
Such was the problem - one which is constantly being met with - which Messrs. Parker & Unwin set themselves to solve for Mrs. Rawnsley, at Appelthwaite in Cumberland, on a site which fell from north to south, with the principal views ranging from south-east to south-west, but the road, and almost necessarily the entrance, on the north-west.
In a small house the little things of planning go so far to ensure comfort that they need a great deal of attention. The way in which doors should open, their positions in the wall, and the corresponding positions of fireplaces and windows are all matters of real importance. In the house which we are now considering it will be noticed with what care the space round each fireplace has been screened from draught, while at the same time it is well lit, for reading or working in the sitting-rooms, and for cooking in the kitchen. The large recessed hearth-fire in the living room would, too, be pleasant to look upon; and in the dining-room great pains has been taken to so place the fire that it may give direct radiant heat over almost all the room, while it is not too close to the back of anyone who may be seated at the dining-table.
Service from kitchen to dining-room would take place through a small pantry, and both coals and larder can be reached under cover in the open air, the larder being on the north-east - the coolest -corner of the able inner hall, which to some extent might be used as a sitting-room. To keep the kitchen so disconnected that the smell of cooking shall not penetrate either to dining-room or hall has been made the keynote of the plan, this being managed in the one case (Fig. 40) by the intervention of pantry and back passage, through which meals would be served, and in the other (Fig.
Fig. 41. South Elevn.
41) by building a screen wall across the hall under the stairs, and specially lighting the passage thus formed, which serves to give access to the front door from the kitchen, and also to disconnect the lavatory and w.c.
The best views are to the south and west, the dining-room, drawing-room and hall bay window, all looking out on to very beautiful and typical Scotch scenery, the north-east being screened from the cold winds by hills at the back.
The upper floors are simply contrived, fitting easily without waste over the rooms below, while advantage of a little space within the roof has been taken to introduce a second bathroom for the use of the servants, a luxury which is absent from many a larger house.
In the Vicarage at Thornthwaite (see Fig. 42) Messrs. Parker & Unwin found themselves confronted with a problem, always a difficult one, which is of very frequent occurrence - that of providing a house having three sitting-rooms and servants' quarters on the ground floor, and five bedrooms over, preferable on a single floor. Owing to the position of the site in regard to the road, the main entrance had to be placed facing north, and a good north elevation was essential, while the principal views were to the south-east, and a rising hill cut off all outlook to the west.
Rigid economy had to be practised, that the Vicarage, while being a presentable building, might not cost much to build nor much to keep up, either in repairs or in the number of servants employed.
A T-shaped outline was chosen for the plan, that the roofing might be simple while affording some opportunity for pleasant grouping, and the house was so placed on the site as to display this from the road, the entrance being contrived in one of the re-entering angles, and all the sitting - rooms ranged to face directly towards the pleasant south - east aspect. The staircase was placed in the middle of the house, and the kitchen in its northern corner, a circular bay being thrown out to catch a little of the morning sunshine.
Fig. 42. First Floor Plan.
As is usual with Messrs. Parker & Unwin's plans, the staircase is in full view of one of the sitting-rooms, which they call the hall. It would be used for receiving guests, much as a drawing-room generally is, while it would have a hospitable and pleasant look.
The study is necessarily near the entrance, that parishioners may be admitted without crossing the hall, and the way in which this is managed, as well as service from kitchen to front door and kitchen to living room, without obtruding the servants upon any visitors in the hall, is worth a good deal of attention, also the clever means adopted for lighting the short passage between pantry and living room.
Similar means of lighting have been adopted to the first-floor landing from which the four principal bedrooms are entered, while the fifth is placed down a passage. Bedroom No. 1 could be easily isolated in case of illness by hanging a sheet soaked in carbolic acid across the landing, and keeping the window open in the corner. It is the sunniest room in the house, and thus admirably suited for either a sick chamber or a day nursery, both being uses to which in course of time it would probably be put in a country vicarage.