Take a Visual Tour of Artist Grayson Perry’s Amazingly Eccentric Essex Home

The house is a feminist monument to Britain's everywoman.

A House For Essex c. Jack Hobhouse
Photo: courtesy Bolton & Quinn

Grayson Perry has designed a momumental holiday home on the banks of the river Stour in Wrabness, Essex. Built as part of a series of holiday homes around England which seek to fuse art and architecture, the house has been subject to much speculation due to its concept and striking design.

Charles Holland and Grayson Perry

Charles Holland and Grayson Perry
Photo: © Katie Hayms

The building that Perry has referrred to as a “Taj Mahal for Essex” is now taking bookings. The lucky winners of a ballot will be able to immerse themselves in this temple to contemporary art for a mid-week or weekend break.

A House for Essex-Bathroom<br>Photo:© Jack Hobhouse

A House for Essex-Bathroom
Photo:© Jack Hobhouse

The house, built for Philosopher Alan de Botton’s project Living Architecture, is a homage to a fictional woman named Julie May Cope, an Essex everywoman.“She is a working-class woman who went with the default settings of her generation,” such as choosing marriage over education, but who had “a redemptive second act,” Perry told the Guardian.

A House for Essex-Bedroom and Julie and Rob Tapestry <br>Photo:© Jack Hobhouse

A House for Essex-Bedroom and Julie and Rob Tapestry
Photo:© Jack Hobhouse

In a documentary made about the project for Channel 4, the Turner Prize winning artist Perry, who grew up in Essex, explained the story of the house is based on the life he wishes his own mother had.

A House for Essex-kitchen and living room<br>Photo:© Jack Hobhouse

A House for Essex-kitchen and living room
Photo:© Jack Hobhouse

As the story goes, Julie gets divorced and re-marries a man named Rob who takes her to see the Taj Mahal. On seeing how much she loves it, Rob promises that if she dies first he would build a Taj Mahal on the river Stour in her memory. On their return to Essex Julie is accidentally killed by a delivery bike and Rob makes good on his promise. That is the glorious tiled palace that stands there today as what Grayson Perry calls a “monument to thwarted female intelligence.”

A House For Essex – interior at night c. Jack Hobhouse

A House For Essex– interior at night
Photo: © Jack Hobhouse

Holiday makers who get the chance to stay in the eccentric and pricey guesthouse which sleeps four, will be able to immerse themselves in the fictional life of Julie: A silver sculpture of Julie reaches out to the sky from the roof, there is an altar to Julie at the center of the main living room, and the ceramic tiles also hold her image.

A House For Essex – south entrance Photo: © Jack Hobhouse

A House For Essex – south entrance
Photo: © Jack Hobhouse

The house’s  architectural design is a collaboration between Architects FAT and Grayson Perry. The tiled exterior in gold and green of what can legitimately be described as a modern-day-temple though striking, pays homage to the story of many ordinary Essex women in it’s dedication to the fictional Julie.

The project has raised some eyebrows in the local community (see Grayson Perry’s Controversial Shrine on Way to Completion) but the response to the house since completion has been generally positive.

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