You may have seen the expertly carved backrests and the signature scrolled armrests but not realized you were looking upon history. The Lutyens garden bench is the work of one genius designer, whose work symbolized the English countryside during the Victorian era. Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944) was one of the greatest British architects of his time. He built commercial building, country homes, monuments and much more. His crowning achievement is considered the Viceroy’s House in New Delhi.
Sir Edwin was not one to be pigeon-holed and never became associated with any specific design school or movement, though he briefly dabbled in and found inspiration from the Arts and Craft movement of the later 19th century. His interest in mathematical intricacy, along with visual puns made people take notice. Surprisingly, his making of furniture was the least known of all his body of work. This is due in large part to the small quantities in which his designs were produced.
These days, it’s rare to find an original Lutyens, as most of the sparse collection has been lost to time. His estate still carries on his name and tradition, though, crafting beautiful pieces with his individual styling in mind. As an homage to the man and his legacy, these are a few of Lutyens garden bench models that best represent his style. They are typically made from English Oak, though other companies will utilize other woods.
One of Lutyens more elaborate benches is the Thakeham garden bench. It was created specifically for a garden at Little Thakeham, near Storrington in West Sussex, England. The extra long bench comprises scrolled, slatted armrests, with delicately carved curves along the top of the backrest. The backrest itself consists of thin slats spaced wide apart and supported in back by three beams. Because it is so long, the bench is supported on either side by two long beams running lengthwise. Unfortunately, over time this form has become disassociated with Lutyens, but his estate remains the only authentic manufacturers of this model.
The Hestercombe bench represents a collaboration between Lutyens and his colleague, renowed artist, designer and writer Gertrude Jekyll. This garden bench was created for Jekyll’s garden at Hestercombe, in Somerset, England. This bench is the stereotypical marker for Lutyen’s English countryside aesthetic. Unlike some of the other benches, the Hestercombe lacks the scrolled armrests. It does however still have the gracefully curved back. And like the Thakeham, the backrest consists of thin, widely spaced slats, but this time only supported by a single central beam.
Another collaboration with Jekyll, the Delhi garden bench was well-liked by Lutyens and used in many of his furniture schemes. Drawing from the Arts and Crafts movement, one can see details like scrolled back and armrests. The armrests and detailing is rounded, with widely spaced slats on the back. The armrests also feature wooden slats.
Either manufactured for one or two people, the Lili garden bench breaks away from other Lutyens designs. This model was named after Lutyen’s great granddaughter, Lili. Sir Edwin had in mind more modern, yet simpler tastes when he set about creating the Lili bench. This is evident in the more streamlined, but still unique design. By far the most basic of his models, the armrests on this bench are simple, with rounded edges and a single, beveled wood support underneath each side. There are two beams running lengthwise along the legs for support, but the real treat is the backrest. A carved top edge represents yet another curved design on the backrest, with the back supporting a dynamic hatch pattern, rather than the typical parallel slats. Three sections of cutout squares are held together by four wider wooden pieces.