If you’ve ever seen a Lutyens garden bench, then you are familiar with the intricately carved backrests, signature scrolled armrests, and a sensibility that epitomizes Victorian England. Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944) was one of the greatest British architects of his time. His work spanned the building of houses, commercial establishments, monuments and more. His crowning achievement is considered the Viceroy’s House in New Delhi.
Lutyens never fit with any one school of design so his style is very much his own, though some of his career was inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement of the late nineteenth century. His interest in mathematical intricacy, along with visual puns made people take notice. Interestingly, his furniture designs are the least well-known of his oeuvre. This is due in large part to the small quantities in which his designs were produced.
Today, many of the original Lutyens pieces designs have been lost to the ravages of time. His estate still carries on his name and tradition, crafting beautiful pieces with his individual styling in mind. Here are a few of the classic examples of Lutyens garden bench models, all made from English oak.
The Delhi garden bench is one style Lutyens often used in gardens that were collaborative efforts with the British designer, writer and artist Gertrude Jekyll. Drawing from the arts and crafts movement, one can see details like scrolled back and armrests. These benches have rounded edges along the back and widely spaced slats. The armrests also feature wooden slats.
The Thakeham garden bench is one of Lutyen’s more ornate designs. It was created specifically for a garden at Little Thakeham, near Storrington in West Sussex, England. This wide seat is characterized by scroll, slatted armrests, along with gracefully sloping lines along the top of the backrest. The back consists of thin slats spaced wide apart and supported in back by three beams. The base, too is supported by two extra beams running along the length, since the bench is longer than average. Unfortunately, over time this form has become disassociated with Lutyens, but his estate remains the only authentic manufacturers of this model.
The Hestercombe garden bench represents yet another collaboration with Gertrude Jekyll, this time designed by Lutyens for Jekyll’s own personal garden at Hestercombe in Somerset, UK. This bench is the stereotypical marker for Lutyen’s English countryside aesthetic. Unlike other versions, this bench does not have the signature scroll armrests. It does however still have the gracefully curved back. And like the Thakeham, the back consists of the thin widely spaced slats, but this time only supported by a single central beam.
The Lili garden bench comes as either a one or two-seater. This model was named after Lutyen’s great granddaughter, Lili. Edwin designed it to appeal to simpler and more modern tastes. This is evident in the more streamlined, yet still unique design. The armrests are the most simple of any model, with rounded edges and beveled supports. There are two beams running lengthwise along the legs for support, but the real treat is the backrest. Another uniquely curved edge characterizes the top of the backrest, while the back itself, rather than the typical parallel slats, sports a neat hatch pattern. Three sections of cutout squares are held together by four wider wooden pieces.