The Anderton House (formerly known as Riggside) is one of the best-known designs of Peter Aldington of Aldington & Craig, one of the most influential architectural practices of post-war domestic housing in Britain. The significance of the Anderton House is recognised by its Grade II* status and is one of only a few buildings which date from the 1970s to be given this accolade.
Peter Aldington’s work has echoes of Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier in its willingness to blend the traditions of local vernacular with the austerity of the modern movement, which Aldington has expressed as ‘listening to the past to make a building of the present that would serve for the future.’ In the late 1950s and 60s, architectural design was becoming ever bigger – new towns, power stations, factories, hospitals set the trend and drove architectural expertise and creativity. Such was the momentum that the more lowly qualities of human scale, for a while, went by the board. Concern grew that the sense of community and scale in small rural towns and villages especially was in danger of disappearing. In contrast to these large public works a few architects began to build for themselves, or their friends, houses that were at once self-effacing and more intimate. Such small houses were the perfect opportunity for architectural experimentation and free planning in a number of idioms.
Peter Aldington was one of the first to anticipate the increasing requirement for a return to greater humanism in housing. He returned to a more intimate and vernacular scale: his first private commission in 1961 at Askett Green in Buckinghamshire was to build a modern interpretation of a cottage. In 1969, Ian and May Anderton, friends of the Aldingtons from Preston, commissioned a small family home in Goodleigh, North Devon for themselves and their daughter Liz, then a student. Ian Anderton was a commercial pharmacist who was moving his premises to Barnstaple. He wanted the new house also to be suitable for his eventual retirement. A highly detailed brief was first drawn up with the clients by Peter Aldington’s partner, John Craig, part of their practice’s characteristic working method at the time. The brief asked for a house that made the most of the views across the valley, encouraged a main living area that was open plan though with some demarcation and three private and acoustically insulated bedrooms. Finally, a study area was required for Ian Anderton – not secluded from daily activity but rather at the heart of it in the living area and of a form which would allow the inevitable clutter of papers and books to be concealed. The Andertons were delighted with the result and lived happily in the building for over twenty five years