A House for Everyday of the Year
Posted on March 29, 2019
Always moving, never slowing, like a river which carries all things to immemorial. Creation is subject to time and we are no exception. Some may perceive this as a necessity, others find it disenchanting, and most find it terrifying. However, there are a few who seek to embrace this reality — honor and replicate its principles in art. Architects are no exception.
Known simply as “Calendar Homes,” these homes or estates are often not simple at all. Typically, the residence will feature any combination of 365 windows (days of the year), 52 staircases (weeks in the year), 12 chimneys (months), 7 wings or courtyards (days of the week), and 4 gardens (seasons). But a home can feature any combination portions of the home with these numbers as they see fit — some have 365 panes of glass, 12 passage ways, 7 exterior doors etc.
The Knole house in Kent Park, England is one of the first houses to adapt to the principles of a horology. Dating back to 1456, the second major building phase initiated in 1604 by Thomas Sackville, the First Earl of Dorset. The palace boasts approximately 365 rooms, 52 staircases — a few were by interior renovations — and seven courts.
Most notably, the estate was featured in several Beatles music videos — “Penny Lane,” “Strawberry Fields Forever” — and served as the influence for their song “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” The estate also was featured in the films The Other Boleyn Girl (2008), Burke and Hare (2010), Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
The Boughton House, one of the several Seats of the Duke of Buccleuch, in Northamtonshire is virtually unchanged from the 17th century. Known as the “English Versailles” it was patroned by Ralph Montagu, a well-known patron of the Huguenot craftspeople. Its exterior features strong French architectural influences and serves as a reflections of Ralph Montagu’s time as England’s ambassador to France.
Cairness, a neoclassical calendar estate built from 1791 to 1797, was designed by architect James Playfair. Unfortunately, Playfair passsed away in 1794 but his dream for the estate was realized by French architects Etienne-Louis Boullee and Claude Nicholas Ledoux with the assistance of Sir John Soane.
The house was commissioned by Charles Gordon of Cairness and Buthlaw, and stands as one of the stunningly finest examples of Neoclasical architecture in Britain. The home also boasts the first Egyptian Room of its kind featuring hieroglyphics and plaster
Sadly, several Calendar Homes have failed or are failing the test of time. One such home, known as the Groby property was “majestic in both proportions and appearance” but was demolished in 1926. The completed home was built for George Harry Grey and when completed featured 365 windows, 52 rooms, and 12 main chimneys and was complimented by an elaborately constructed lake.
Erected near Manchester City Center in Didsbury stands the Towers. A calendar home who’s grand design is by Thomas Worthington and was built from 1868-1872. The home is styled in a florid Gothic style and boasts 12 towers, 52 rooms and 365 windows. Among its architectural feats, there are a large number of gargoyles on the projecting angles of the exterior and a prize was said to have been offered for the ugliest design.
Avon Tyrrell, a building of troubled fates, is infamously affiliated with the name Norman Walter Tirel. A man who in the 11th century accidentally killed King William II while hunting near New Forest. The manor would exchange ownership many times until 1882 in which the 3rd Baron Manners, John Manners-Sutton, won the 1882 Grand National horse race. Thus winning enough sums to rebuild the house under the guidance of W. R. Lethaby.
However, this reconstruction would not take place until 1891. During World War II the estate was acquired by the government and now serves as the headquarters of UK Youth, a national youth charity and activity center.
Finally, the crown jewel of calendar homes is no longer a home at all, but rather a boarding school in England. Bedstone College or Bedstone Court, as it was originally called, is a three storied house reputed to have the standard 365 windows, 52 rooms, 12 chimneys, and 7 external doors.
In addition to these principles, the College’s central hall boasts a 52 paneled stained glass window depicting the zodiacs, months of the year, as well as the associated birds and agricultural symbolism for every month. Tragically, the house was damaged by a fire in 1996 but it has since been fully restored.
If you’re convinced that Horology and Architecture have a beautiful connection, I’d be one to agree with you and I would not mind watching time pass by in one of these homes anytime soon.