The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Bourton-on-the-Water model village
Bekonscot model village, Beaconsfield

Yes this really is C20 Architecture….

Well it’s a C20 artifact….  its the Bourton on the Water model village,which has just been listed grade II.

It was constructed in 1936-40 and  built to 1:9 scale, and as the list description records it “faithfully reproduces the C17, C18 and C19 Cotswold vernacular buildings of the village”.  Tourists first came to Bourton on the Water in the late C19th and numbers increased when it became a popular motoring destination.   Apparently “in 1936, Mr C A Morris, owner of the New Inn (later the Old New Inn) conceived the idea of turning the vegetable garden behind the pub into a miniature glen, with a waterfall and stream running through a grassy valley, with arched bridges inspired by those in Bourton. This idea soon expanded, and Mr Morris and his wife decided instead to make a faithful reproduction….  [and] set about precisely measuring the village…  A team of eight local craftsmen worked to reproduce the buildings, landscape and the river, which runs with water. Local limestone, cut into ashlar blocks, was used to construct the walls of the buildings, incised to indicate coursing where appropriate. Stone from Huntsmans Quarries three miles away was used to make the miniature Cotswold stone slates which cover the roofs of the buildings. The village was opened to the public for the first time on 13 May 1937, in celebration of the Coronation of King George VI; the model was completed in 1940.

It’s not the oldest model village in England (that Bekonscot at Beaconsfield, which you can see from the train).   I’ve not been to either, but am inspired to do so over the summer (if I can persuade my i-pad-savy 8 year old that it would be a fun trip….could be tricky…)  there are rather less ambitious examples nearer to home—in both Vauxhall and Brockwell Park…but I am not sure if they are meant to be anywhere specific.  I think we could do with an article on this phenomenon for our magazine–anyone got any information on other examples?


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