Saturday, January 19, 2013
Walls built of small bricks, laid in Flemish bond and with a lovely uneven colour palette ranging from sandy red to raspberry. Low eaves, dormer windows, white-painted casements, sashes, and gates, tall chimneys. The houses of Jordans Village, arranged around a rectangular green, are of a piece, and have a timeless quality. Some could almost be Tudor; or Arts and Crafts houses of the end of the 19th century; or early 20th century outposts of Hampstead Garden Suburb. The last is nearest the truth. Jordans Village was planned in 1915–16 and built as a Quaker community, mostly in the 1920s, not far from the 17th-century Jordans Meeting House (the subject of a future post, I expect) and in part to shield this venerable building from speculative builders, who were eyeing up the neighbourhood because it is within striking distance of the railway line into London's Marylebone Station.
The architect of the village was Fred Rowntree, himself a Quaker and a relative of the famous family of confectioners. He produced something with more beauty and character than the spec builders would probably have done. The houses, with their painstaking details like the brick column on this example, look beautiful against a background of greenery and snow – I suspect they would look even better on a sunny day. I visited Jordans with friends who have a longstanding connection to the village, and I can say that the success was not only aesthetic. Jordans was and remains a true community, which not only retains control over the village's buildings (they are owned by Jordans Village Ltd, a Friendly Society) but fosters a network of families and friends that is supportive and sustaining. Some of the light and warmth of the Quakers shone through on the cold winter day of our visit. Friends indeed.