Listing: Detached house built c.1891.
Home of Henry Meadows, of Meadows Engineering, between 1928 and
1937. T. E. Lawrence stayed at the house whilst working with
Meadows on the design of air/sea rescue boats for the RAF.
Comment: This wonderful house is now
the centre piece of a conservation area which contains many fine
residences of the period. By 1891 Victorians were getting over
their opinion that light and air tended to kill you and houses were
best built with small windows, provided with heavy curtains.
But Windermere House goes much further in the opposite direction
than was common at the time, including in the Arts and Craft style
to which this house makes some allusion. It goes along with
Bess of Hardwick rather than Dionysius Lardner.
Lawrence only stayed in the house for less than a
month but is remembered as walking up the road with Meadows to catch
the bus in to work. This house, like the others on this side
of Copthorne Road, has huge gardens and at the bottom of this one is
a bungalow in which, it is said, Lawrence actually stayed - with his
Meadows might not have been much of a host, for a
persistent local story has it that he was more than a little miserly
and morose and normally dined alone, relegating his wife and
children to another room. But his daughter was surprised when,
in recent years, she heard that story and she denied it, saying that
her father doted on his children and that her father and mother were
unusually happy and close. This is such a bright and open
house that surely a miserable recluse could never have chosen to
live in it.