Gallery of past work

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Grayson Perry's house in Essex

At the end of a lovely visit to see a friend in Essex this weekend, we walked to artist and Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry's extraordinary house at Wrabness on the banks of the River Stour.

Called A House for Essex and built as a record of the life of a mythical Essex woman called Julie, it makes an amazing statement in this quiet and unassuming landscape. It has been described as 'bonkers' (I'm not sure by whom) and if considering it simply as a dwelling, I would probably agree. However, viewing it as a folly, as an art statement, as a sort of giant installation full of Perry's work, extraordinarily crafted and full of symbolism, I have been fascinated by it.

Perry himself has described the house as 'a Fabergé egg of a building'. If I came away with nothing else from this visit, it was a feeling of great thanks to the planning authorities who had had the courage to allow such an extraordinary gem to be built.

We walked almost all the way round the outside and viewed it from a distance, enjoying every angle and its setting within the landscape. The roof is a wonderful glowing pale gold colour and it gives the whole building a temple-like aura enhanced by the church-like shape of the windows. Indeed, Grayson Perry planned the house as a 'secular chapel', a place of pilgrimage for Julie. He has described it as 'The Taj Mahal on the River Stour'.

Outside, the house is tiled from ground to roof with specially made tiles with motifs depicting events in Julie's life.

Sadly, I could see almost nothing of the inside since it is rarely possible to go inside unless you enter a ballot to reserve a stay for a short break (detailed here) at considerable cost so my impressions and the photographs of the interior are based on my viewing of the Channel 4 programme broadcast in May of this year and the various photographs available by googling.

The front room

Looking up at the ceiling in the Front Room
One of many tapestries around the house documenting 'Julie's' life

More details of the evolution of the building are to be found here and it is possible to view a 360 degree film of it here, though I only hope it streams more easily for you than it did for me. I suggest downloading fully before viewing (... and reading the instructions before you begin!). Even when I finally did so, I found it difficult to use, though the commentary gave a great insight into the symbolism of the house.


  1. My son sent me a video about the house,you are lucky to have seen it in person.
    I use Icolorama which has many interesting settings.

    1. It is a quite extraordinary house - a modern folly really - in a quiet rural part of east Essex. My only disappointment was not being able to see inside it, other than via the downloadable video.
      Thank you very much for your recommendation of Icolorama. At the price of £2.99 it certainly seemed worth downloading. I will post anything I do that seems worthy of public viewing!


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