The House On The 17th Green
I have enjoyed many a wonderful day watching golf at the magnificent Wentworth Club in Surrey. Watching the professionals in top tournaments is always exciting even when you get hit by a stray tee shot as I once was! An errant iron on the 10th from Costantino Rocca struck my elbow and ricocheted sideways ending up under a bin. The episode was captured by the BBC in their coverage, a moment of sporting history that I would rather forget!
One hole I always looked forward to visiting was the 17th but my interest here had little to do with the golf. It was the now infamous house which overlooks the green that always captured my attention. I was always deeply jealous of whoever owned it as they had the perfect view of the golf from their own balcony but I wasn’t so sure about the architecture and the house contractor which seemed strangely incongruous.
A Closer Look
I often wondered about the house but rarely had the opportunity to really examine it amidst the crowds of golfing fans thronging the course. It also seemed rather rude to stand peering up at the occupiers. My chance for a closer look at the house arrived when I was invited to play the course. On a freezing cold February day I hacked my way around the West Course at Wentworth before arriving at the 17th green where I could sneak a peek at the house. I started to walk closer to the property and lost all track of time. I was supposed to be taking my put and ended up having to run back to the green in unseemly fashion only to miss my shot.
Meeting the Family
A couple of years later I found myself in an executive box at Fulham FC talking to a complete stranger who informed me that he had he been a professional footballer. I asked who he had played for and when he said Omonia Nicosia I think that I failed to look suitably impressed. He changed the subject and asked if I liked golf. It was then that he claimed that his family owned the unusual white house at Wentworth. Whether this guy was a fantasist or not I have no idea but his comment certainly piqued my interest. Sadly he was not forthcoming with any details and so some research was in order.
The house was built in 1937 by one Frederick Williamson-Noble an ophthalmologist in Harley Street, London. He commissioned the architects Connell, Ward and Lucas to build a radical family home in the heart of surrey using glass and reinforced concrete. Perhaps at the time it was believed that concrete and the minimalist style would be the next big thing but unfortunately it wasn’t. The house is a curious mix of modernism and the Art Deco style that was prevalent at the time but the two styles are an uncomfortable partnership and the house is frankly ugly. The boxy appearance, flat roof and minimalism combine to make the place look like a commercial building and the steel windows look harsh and functional in an area full of mansions with gorgeous facades and sash windows.
Ugly but Fascinating
I understand that Williamson-Noble’s wife absolutely hated the place and refused to live there. The building has now been listed and so will be preserved for posterity. I don’t like the house at all but I love where it is and I find it fascinating. If I could ever remember the name of that footballer I met I might actually get to the inside!
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