Horsley Towers

Horsley Towers designed by William, Earl of Lovelace (1805-1893) sometime after 1855. East Horsley, Surrey. Photograph by Peter Evans, who has generously shared this photograph with the Victorian Web; copyright remains, of course, with him. Readers may wish to visit his site for many beautiful photographs of the U. K. and other countries, including Japan. [GPL].

The photographer relates that

I had to visit this place when I'd seen the write-up in J. J. Norwich's The Architecture of Southern England. In this book, Norwich describes the buildings (mostly churches, cathedrals, and manor houses) that he enjoys. But he's repelled by this building; his description of it reads like the start of a better story by H. P. Lovecraft. He summarizes it as "a grotesque Victorian Disneyland which has to be seen to be believed — and may not be even then", and concludes: "Unlike virtually all the other entries in this book, therefore, this one is not a recommendation: it is a warning."

At the left one sees the two towers with conical roofs whose wall surfaces don't go very well with the long rectangular building or the opposing square tower with its chimney-like additions. In contrast to the lavish polychromy of the chapel interior, the exterior here has three different wall surfaces — the dominant flint and brickwork, contrasting brick work of the round tower, plus smooth lighter stone of the two cylindrical elements on the main tower, which is probably supposed to be a castle keep, or allude to one, but which actually looks more like a church tower to which someone has attached those cylinders. They seem distant relations — illegitimate offspring of? — French chateaux of the Loire Valley but, perhaps appropriate to an age of industrialism, they strike me as looking more like factory chimneys. The gohticky windows on the first story clash with the rectangular windows in the wing perpendicular to them [GPL]

Other views


Nairn, Ian, and Nikolaus Pevsner. Surrey. Revised by Bridget Cherry. The Buildings of England. Harmondsworth: Penguin: 1971.

Norwich, John Julius. The Architecture of Southern England. London: Macmillan London, 1985.

Tudsbury-Turner, Stephen. "William, Earl of Lovelace, 1805-1893." Surrey Archaeological Collections. Vol. LXX (1974) — reprinted in a leaflet obtained at East Horsley Towers [JB].

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Last modified 20 April 2006