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Diggs Field

A Grade II Listed Building in Haddenham, Buckinghamshire

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Latitude: 51.7665 / 51°45'59"N

Longitude: -0.9323 / 0°55'56"W

OS Eastings: 473778

OS Northings: 208070

OS Grid: SP737080

Mapcode National: GBR C20.C3C

Mapcode Global: VHDV8.SVHQ

Entry Name: Diggs Field

Listing Date: 19 March 2010

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1393718

English Heritage Legacy ID: 507431

Location: Haddenham, Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire, HP17

County: Buckinghamshire

District: Aylesbury Vale

Civil Parish: Haddenham

Built-Up Area: Haddenham

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Haddenham

Church of England Diocese: Oxford

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Listing Text


570/0/10012 STATION ROAD
19-MAR-10 19
Diggs Field

Private house. 1967-9 by Peter Aldington for Diana Alderson and Dr and Mrs Leslie. Minor later alterations.

MATERIALS: Masonry, painted white, part faced in horizontal cedar panels which over the years have gradually darkened. Roofs are of Redland Delta tiles except over the sitting room where the shallow incline has been replaced in slate. The northern elevation is punctuated by cedar clad window pods, while in contrast, the intervening bays, the bathrooms and entrance, have narrow, vertical slit windows set into painted masonry walls. The outer door is of vertical cedar boards under a deep cedar panel.

PLAN: Diggs Field was planned to provide south-facing sunny living accommodation for Miss Alderson and Dr and Mrs Leslie, arranged in a long low slung building set either side of a double-height living space or sun room, with a gallery which received the sun at all times of the day. It was intended that each end of the house was a discrete unit, either connected to, or completely separate from the rest of the house. Stairs rise from the sun room, serving a small gallery and upper floors at the eastern end and occupied by Miss Alderson, where the slope of the land allowed a garage to be tucked under the upper floor rooms. The first floor unit at the eastern end comprises a south-facing bedroom, the windows set at an angle into the slope of the outer wall and roof, a north-facing study behind it, in the shallow space above the garage and beneath the eaves, and a bathroom. The bathroom protrudes over the entrance internally. Leading off the sun room at a slightly lower level and reached through a recessed sliding door, is a more intimate sitting room. The western end of the building is single storey, comprising a north-facing dining room and south-facing kitchen, which are separated by a built-in dresser, and a study-bedroom for the Leslies. Either side of the axial corridor which gives views to the stairs, are a bedroom which was designed to become a second kitchen if needed, and opposite it a bathroom.

EXTERIOR: The northern elevation is punctuated by three cedar clad window pods, while in contrast, the intervening bays, the bathrooms and entrance, have narrow, vertical slit windows set into painted masonry walls, deeply set under the eaves. The outer door leads to a lobby with a pair of broad flush-panelled inner doors. Within the lobby is a hinged letterbox. The south elevation is dominated by a large glazed double-height conservatory in the manner of a skylight. South-facing walls and windows are set at a slight incline, in the manner of a mansard, while pitched roofs are offset which tempers the impact of the vertical forms. The building extends onto a timber-decked platform between the sun room and kitchen. Much of the south-facing elevation is glazed, in the case of the sun room with vertical panels, which are broken at storey height by a deep cedar fascia. The unframed sliding glass door was replaced soon after the house was built with a double-glazed framed unit, while the upper floor bedroom windows have also been replaced.

INTERIOR: Vertical walls are mostly masonry painted white, sloping surfaces and ceilings are clad in cedar panels. Floors are woodblock. The entrance gives onto the double height sun room or conservatory through a wide internal door. Cedar stairs with open treads to the lower flight and solid treads above, have a sold balustrade of broad horizontal cedar panels, with a separate rail. The narrow internal vents in the upper floor bathroom overlooking the sun room were Miss Alderson's suggestion. The lower sitting room has, at the behest of Mrs Leslie, an open fireplace. It is a simple rectangular opening set into a brick stack and with the ash pit accessible from in the garage. Cedar clad ceilings and walls help to break down conventional understanding of the upper floor rooms by blurring the distinction between flat and vertical surfaces.

The dining room and kitchen are separated by a built-in cedar dresser. The kitchen, which has its original cedar fittings, is set under a cedar clad sloping roof which appears to increase the capacity of the room, while the dining room sits in the pod-like window bay which gives a sense of increased space yet intimacy. Internal doors are flush panelled beneath large overlights, bringing light to the spinal corridor which creates a long view from the western end to the sun room.

HISTORY: Diggs Field was designed and built in 1967-9 by Peter Aldington for Diana Alderson and Dr and Mrs Leslie with whom she had lodged as a land girl during the war. Diana Alderson had inherited a Victorian house in Haddenham, where Peter Aldington had recently built Turn End for himself, and, impressed by the character of the new buildings, she turned to Aldington for a new home for her and the Leslies. Diggs Field was built on an open site at the southern edge of the village, set in an acre of land. Diana Alderson had trained as a horticulturalist and was a keen gardener. The house was designed to a very specific brief, establishing the detailed client consultation process which became a hallmark of Aldington and Craig's practice. The clients wanted to repeat the conservatory which was a feature of the Victorian house, but rather than build it as an additional room, it was designed as the focus of the new house, filling a double-height space, which also fulfilled a second criteria as a room which receives sun at all times of the day. It functions as a shared space in the centre of the house, with intimate rooms leading off it.

Peter Aldington (b 1933) studied at Manchester School of Architecture from 1951 before joining the LCC architects department in 1956. Towards the end of his tenure, he designed two private houses, of which only Askett Green, Bucks (1961-3, Grade II), was built. Described as a modern interpretation of a cottage, it has a full height living space reminiscent of a medieval hall, which is echoed in the sun room at Diggs Field. In his work at this time, Aldington observed local vernacular forms and materials whilst he was also strongly influenced by ideas often associated with the New Brutalists, through housing such as Langham House Close, Ham Common, by Stirling and Gowan, and concepts which derive from Le Corbusier's highly influential Maisons Jaoul, Neuilly, France. Always interested in the craft of building, Aldington set about building the three Townside houses - Turn End, The Turn and Middle Turn (1963-8), which were recognised shortly after their completion by their inclusion within the conservation area, and now Grade II*. Also dating from this period is Quilter House (or Clayton House), Buckinghamshire, listed Grade II, and the much altered, but at the time heralded, doctors' surgery at Chinnor, Oxfordshire. Urban projects included 17b Princes Place, Kensington, London, a mews house and studio built for Tim Rock, editor of Architectural Review, who gave an almost impossible brief of fitting a garage, living and studio space into a small site, and 3A Ellers Road Doncaster, both listed Grade II. Houses designed in partnership with Craig include Riggs Field (Anderton House), Devon, of 1970-1 which is Grade II*, while the slightly later scheme at Lyde End, Buckinghamshire, a group of houses commissioned by Lord Carrington and built between 1975-77, is Grade II. Aldington was joined in 1968 by John Craig, who had worked on film scenery at Pinewood Studios and as a graphic designer in the advertising industry. As a non-architect, he was ideally placed to develop the unusually detailed briefing documents as a means of setting out the intentions of client and architect. In 1980 Paul Collinge joined the practice and since the retirement of Aldington and Craig, he has continued to practise independently. Aldington, Craig and Collinge are held in high regard for their inventive and meticulously tailored designs, sensitive to their locations. Their work is marked by careful grouping and scale and use of materials, in their early houses often softening potentially hard surfaces and spaces by facing or building internally in timber. Aside from their buildings, Aldington and Craig have both contributed to the architectural world through teaching, and through garden design. Although they did not write extensively on architectural theory, their buildings were published through the photographs of Richard Einzig. Diggs Field was the exception since Einzig was not happy with his photographs of the building.

Ideal Home, November 1971, p 52-55
Alan Powers, Aldington, Craig and Collinge, 2009

Diggs Field, designed and built by Peter Aldington in 1967-9 for Dr & Mrs Leslie and Diana Alderson, is listed for the following principal
* Architectural Interest: A post-war private house designed unusually for three clients; it provides a solution to a problem at which the practice excelled, that of designing groups of buildings or a building for multiple use, tailored to specific roles. They achieved this through their meticulously detailed clients' briefs, and their ability to articulate these needs with great creativity through their understanding of the craft of building and use of materials, and particular attention to setting;
* Plan: The strength of the building lies in the plan and powerful interior spaces; a long, low-slung building set either side of a double-height living space or sun room, with a gallery which received the sun at all times of the day; each end of the house was a discrete unit, either connected to, or completely separate from the rest of the house;
* Materials: A simple use of masonry, clad and lined in cedar panels, executed to a high level of craftsmanship;
* Intactness: A high standard of the building resulting in intactness notably of the interior and its fittings;
* Historic interest: It dates from the earlier period of Peter Aldington's career before John Craig had formally joined him. His work at this time is strongly 'hands on' combining Brutalist-inspired forms and spaces, building on the influence of Le Corbusier, with traditional craftsmanship and materials, seen for example in his own house Turn End, Townside

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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