"To my mind they are some of the most beautiful houses built in England since the war… Not only are the gardens a masterpiece in their own right, but they relate to the buildings in an unforgettable way."
Letter from Peter Davey, Editor of the Architectural Review for 25 years
Peter Aldington's ...
three village houses (The Turn, Middle Turn, Turn End) in Haddenham, Buckinghamshire were designed and built in the 1960s, Peter and Margaret Aldington doing much of the building work themselves. They received a Royal Institute of British Architects Award for Architecture in 1970.
On 15 July 1998, the three buildings were added to the list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest. This was upgraded to Grade II* in 2006, one of only a handful of post war houses at this grade.
As modern housing, made of wood, concrete block and glass, in a traditional setting, the group has always been celebrated as a rare British representative amongst the best of European housing design, and has welcomed visitors from all over the world. It has provided teaching material for students of architecture and landscape design, been written about nationally and internationally and photographed widely.
Turn End's garden, designed and made by Peter as a natural extension to the house, grew with the buildings, maturing into an internationally renowned garden, gaining publicity through television programmes, and the many articles that have been written about it. In less than an acre, space is used to create an illusion of size - courtyards with pools, a small woodland around old apple trees, a curved glade leading to a series of garden rooms – sunken or raised, sunny or shady, geometric of informal.
On 30 November 2017 the historic and design significance of the garden was also recognised when it was listed on Historic England's Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest at Grade II. This acknowledges the post-war garden's interlinked informal spaces and garden rooms with naturalised planting around existing trees, all interwoven with the house, reflecting Aldington's hands-on approach, spatial skills as a designer and deep understanding of materials and plants. Created in conjunction with the house, it is an expression of the architect's belief that architecture and landscape design are an indivisible whole. This intimate linkage is rare in a later 20th Century scheme and Turn End is the only post-war listed project where the house and garden were created by the same hand. The houses and garden are also noted as exemplary as a model of later 20th Century intervention in a historic environment.
The Aldingtons still live at Turn End, Middle Turn is privately owned and occupied, while The Turn is currently let. The estate also includes a 19th century cottage 9 Townside, and a Victorian house 6+8 High Street, which was converted by the Aldingtons in the 1970s to provide flats, and office space for the growing architectural practice.
In 1998 the Aldington family and a group of founder trustees formed Turn End Charitable Trust (now Turn End Trust) to ensure the continuing maintenance and use of the buildings.
One of the three principal aims of the Turn End Trust is:
‘The advancement of education and scholarship in the art of building and garden design and in so doing to foster the integration of these two disciplines into a single indivisible process, each element to interact with and be dependant on the other.’
This has always been a core belief of Peter Aldington, and in 2000 he was invited to write an article on the subject for the 20th Century Society Journal. He called it: ‘Architecture and the Landscape Obligation’.
For more detail, please read Peter Aldington's Turn End Philosophy and Design and the Descriptive walk through the house and garden, a distillation of longer papers by the late Will Howland (architect and founding Chairman of the Trust) and Dominic Cole (landscape architect and a founding Trustee).
The story of Turn End is told by Jane Brown in the book 'A Garden and Three Houses', available to buy from our Shop.
See the and more page for further information including audio and video recordings.