Whilst in Devon, a couple of weeks ago, we visited High Cross House, built as the home of William Curry, the Headmaster of Dartington Hall School, and now a National Trust property. Its a modernist house designed by William Lescaze in 1932, sited in a very picturesque rural area, surrounded by trees and fields.
The whole building is very square and geometric, with plain walls and an absence of decoration. The lines and shapes are very clean and clear. The exterior is cold and plain, though this is
tempered in the interior by the use of warmer wood. There is a sense of calm and clarity as you wander around the inside.
Whilst the interior is in very good condition, the exterior does look quite weather beaten and distressed. It seems the American architect did not account for the Devon climate, with its wind and moisture, and, apparently, the exterior requires constant attention to prevent it falling into disrepair.
There is a fine display of pottery by Bernard Leach and associated ceramicists. he lived nearby and had many links with Dartington and the area. The calm and plain rooms are sympathetic to the ideals of Leach and his craft pottery philosophy.
Upstairs are two artists’ studios. In one is a textile artist, creating hats, scarves and other items to be worn, while the other is home to an artist exploring drawing practices. It is always interesting to see behind the scenes, to see how people organise their work spaces and explore, develop and create art work. It was a pity they weren’t working, but it did give us an opportunity to snoop about.
A very interesting building, an embodiment of very clear ideals and purpose, in its own way endearing and attractive. Though it is interesting how things so “modern” at the time, seem so dated so soon after.