Peter Aldington

Turn End film screens at London's Garden Museum

 Guests gathering in the Clore Learning Space at the Garden Museum Photo: Karen Fitzsimon

Guests gathering in the Clore Learning Space at the Garden Museum Photo: Karen Fitzsimon

Our third public screening of the Turn End film, made about Peter Aldington’s home and garden by documentary makers Murray Grigor and Hamid Shams, was enjoyed by a sell out audience at the Garden Museum on Tuesday 13 November.

The museum’s Clore Learning Space provided a convivial and inspiring setting for the London premiere. Part of the museum's recent redevelopment project, this bright and modern room is decorated with a display of trailing Tradescantia plants in honour of naturalist, gardener, collector and traveller John Trasdescant. The learning space overlooks the Sackler Garden, the centrepiece of which is Tradescant’s magnificent and enigmatic tomb. The garden was designed by renowned Garden and Landscape Designer Dan Pearson to reflect Tradescant’s life and spirit and is filled with unusual and sculptural botanic treasures.

After an opportunity to meet Turn End Trustees and staff, speakers and fellow guests over a welcome drink, the event was introduced by Landscape Architect Dominic Cole, former Turn End Trustee and currently one of our garden advisors. In recognition of his long standing support of the Turn End Trust Dominic was recently invited to become one of our Patrons. Dominic read a letter of support from Architect Richard Murphy, another Patron of the Turn End Trust. Richard helped to instigate the documentary project and interviews Peter in the film about Turn End’s creation and design.

“I am so sorry not to be able to be with you tonight but I hope this  message communicates the importance of what I think Murray, Hamid, Carol, Peter and Margaret have achieved. It is always gratifying to bring  creative people together and wait and  see what happens; or to use a seasonal analogy, to light the blue touch paper and then retire! In this instance Peter Aldington and Murray Grigor  are also both very good and longstanding friends who's respective work needs no introduction. Architects and film-makers have remarkably similar lives; each are relatively  financially insecure living from job to job, each needs to bring considerable number of other people along to make the enterprise happen, and each spends quite a lot of someone else's money without which the creative idea would never see the light of the day! But at least films don't leak!

Photographs and plans and the printed word are the usual way of explaining architecture but film takes us to a completely different level where I believe many more can both  experience what it is like to be there and then go on to understand the significance of what has been created. Murray's film I believe is long overdue but I believe it is a brilliant record of what Peter and Margaret Aldington have achieved over 50 years, puts it all in context and explains its significance but also  shows the sheer beauty of the architecture and the landscape particularly as both change with light and through the seasons. 

The three houses and gardens in Haddenham, and those at Bledlow, I believe have a significance way beyond their size. They represent a way of building in a village which is both contemporary and harmonious and stand as reproachful exemplars to the thousands of dreary and unsympathetic identical housing estates which litter the outskirts of our towns and villages from Cornwall to Caithness. It is not too late to learn lessons from Haddenham and I hope Murray Grigor's film will be a powerful vehicle to help bring about the realisation that new housing, which this country desperately needs, can be designed in the spirit of our times and yet be part of the place in which it is built and be part of the evolving history of a town or village which Peter's houses most certainly have already done in Haddenham.” 

Richard Murphy, Patron of the Turn End Trust

Following the screening, Dominic invited the audience to question the panel of speakers - Margaret and Peter Aldington; Elain Harwood of Historic England, an expert on 20th Century architecture who is currently researching landscapes of this period; Murray Grigor, the film’s producer and director, who has made more than 50 documentaries exploring art and architecture; and Jackie Hunt, Turn End’s gardener. The audience was keen to hear the panel’s comments on why British housing development still fails to learn from the Turn End model, Peter's inspirations for the project, practical aspects of how the Aldingtons created and maintain Turn End, and how the garden is evolving more than 50 years on from its creation.

The museum was buzzing as the Nave gallery space was also the venue for a talk by Dan Pearson on some of his horticultural projects in London. Thank you to all the staff at the Garden Museum for hosting a fantastic evening in a glorious setting and special thanks Turn End Trustee Karen Fitzsimon for masterminding the event. 

Would you like to see the Turn End film? We hope to run more public screenings, so keep an eye on our What’s On page or join our mailing list to receive notifications of forthcoming events.

You can also purchase a DVD for viewing at home from our SHOP.

 The Garden Museum, Lambeth Photo: Karen Fitzsimon

The Garden Museum, Lambeth Photo: Karen Fitzsimon

Out now -

Turn End film.jpg

Turn End, a new 45 minute documentary film by award winning film director Murray Grigor and director of photography Hamid Shams, has just been released on DVD and is available to purchase (£17.50 including p&p) from the ShopTurn End tells the story of the creation of the group of three houses and garden (now 50 years old and admired by visitors from around the world) and how their design reflects the unique features of the old English village, Haddenham village. 

Filmed through all four seasons, Turn End captures how architect Peter Aldington masterly designed the houses and garden as one, making the garden a natural extension to the house. It goes right to the heart of the controversy of what is desirable housing development in country villages.

Locally disparaged by some 50 years ago, Turn End has since been judged as a shining example of how a modern approach can embrace both the past and the contemporary. By then creating a little bit of village of the 20th century within the wychert walls of Haddenham, what Peter and his wife Margaret went on to achieve at Turn End breathed new life into vernacular building traditions. To then embrace their three courtyard single storey homes with individual but connected gardens, under the many mature trees which they saved, makes Turn End an integrated masterpiece of indoor and outdoor rooms of our time.

The filmmakers: Murray Grigor OBE is an internationally acclaimed film director who has made over 50 films since the late 1960s with a focus on arts and architecture documentaries. His subjects include Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Robert Adam, Frank Lloyd Wright, Carlo Scarpa and Sir John Soane.  Hamid Shams, Director of Photography, has been a filmmaker for over 25 years. He has also produced, edited and directed several works.

Turn End Tour - an account by Mike Stiff, Director, Stiff and Trevillion Architects

On Saturday 3rd June, Turn End Trust hosted its first Turn End tour visiting four built projects in Buckinghamshire by Aldington Craig and Collinge (Peter Aldington's former practice).  A group of 20 enthusiasts joined Peter and explored inside four private houses not usually open to visitors.  The houses visited exhibit principles for which the practice is known including open planning and the linking of indoors and outdoors, village houses that are sympathetic to their locality yet make a striking contribution to the environment, and the simplicity, directness and honesty of building and materials. Here Mike Stiff, Director of Stiff and Trevillion Architects gives his account of the day.

Mike Stiff, Director, Stiff and Trevillion Architects