Mickling Barf was designed and built be renowned local architects Rex and Jenifer Critchlow
An unusual house built by husband-and-wife architects for themselves and their family to live in has earned “national heritage” status.
Mickling Barf, in Hatcliffe, near Barnoldby-le-Beck, was constructed in three phases between 1962 and 1983 by Rex and Jenifer Critchlow. Laid out to a cranked 30/60 geometric design, with two main wings and an adjoining annexe, the architects’ model shows how the house was planned from the outset to be extended as the family grew, according to Historic England.
“The house retains in its second bathroom a GRP [glass reinforced plastic] pod formed in two halves, designed from a patent by Rex Critchlow which was later sold to Ideal Standard,” Historic England’s description notes. “The garden and landscaping surrounding the house was also designed by the Critchlows and the plans executed over time. The house remained the family home of the Critchlows until 2022.”
Grade two-listed Mickling Barf is among a total of 227 historic buildings, including 16 quirky examples, to be added to the National Heritage List for England in 2023. It has been designated on the grounds of its architectural merit and historic interest.
Rex and Jenifer, who met while studying architecture at Sheffield University and married in 1960, built the main part of the house between 1963 and 1965, added an office and bathroom in the 1970s and an annexe space in 1982. The couple worked in London before moving to Lincolnshire to gradually take over the architectural practice of Jenifer’s father, J. Fred Pye, on his retirement.
Mickling Barf is said to show influences of Frank Lloyd Wright – who adopted a “honeycomb” geometry for his 1930s Hanna House – in its construction and has a hexagonal-shaped sunken living room. Wide use of hexagonal floor tiles throughout echoes the angles of the building.
Though built of simple materials such as timber and brick, the house’s grid design allows for “unusual and interesting spaces” and “fluidity and abundant natural light”, says Historic England. “As an example of a family home built by the architects for themselves, the joint design by husband and wife gives additional interest.”
When the Critchlows moved to Grimsby, Jenifer worked for a local authority before largely giving up architecture, once her children began to arrive, though she maintained an interest in landscaping and wrote a guide to the local church. Rex Critchlow led a Sixties project on what had originally been a small terraced hotel amid houses and shops to help create an expanded Kingsway Hotel, in Cleethorpes.
An application by the Twentieth Century Society (C20), which campaigns for outstanding buildings, led to the designation of Mickling Barf, after it was advertised for sale. C20 said the property was “a strong example of post-war domestic architecture that survives remarkably intact”.
“The house was occupied by the Critchlows until 2022, with this continuity of ownership meaning the external and internal features of the building have not seen significant alteration in 60 years,” C20 said. “The remarkably intact interior of Mickling Barf holds a range of striking original features, with what Rex Critchlow referred to as ‘honest and cheap’ materials used throughout the house.”
Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said:
“A range of remarkable historic buildings and sites are added to the list each year and 2023 is no exception. We’ve examined and protected some amazing sites this year, which together give us a window into our rich and varied historic environment.”
Heritage Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said:
“The striking range of places listed this year are a vivid demonstration of the richness and variety of our national heritage. The great work done by Historic England will ensure that they are protected for future generations to enjoy – and to learn about the fascinating people and stories connected with them.”
Source: Grimsby Live