Modernist buildings of Frinton Park Estate

Still on coast watch, I thought I’d flag up the Frinton Park Estate, in Frinton-on-sea, Essex, which is the biggest group of modernist houses in the UK. The only way really is Essex! They were built in 1934 by architect Oliver Hill – who also designed the Midland Hotel in Morecambe. Hill came up with the master plan and the management company Frinton Park Estate was supposed to build hundreds of homes plus a hotel, with the best land next to the sea saved for the most avant garde designs. The company failed to sell all the buildings and only 10-12 houses ended up being built by Hill, plus a few more added by other architects.

Oliver Hill | Frinton Park Estate | Frinton on sea

House on the Frinton Park Estate Frinton-on-sea

Frinton-on-sea Essex

Hill wanted his estate to attract the creme-de-la-creme of Frinton rather than day-trippers from London, but his biggest agenda was to make the estate a showcase for modern British design – I believe he’d been inspired by a trip to California.

I wrote about the below house in 2006, when it belonged to 20th Century furniture dealer and author Andrew Weaving (it possibly still does).

Frinton-on-sea | Andrew Weaving house | Frinton Park Estate DA

photo by Dave Anderson

Isn’t it gorgeous? It was featured in Country Life back in 1936. Andrew told me that Oliver Hill had written in a letter that he wanted to use the work of Alvar Aalto in the showhouse. And as a collector of Alvar Aalto furniture, Andrew said, ‘it was nice being able to put it where it belonged.’

14 Responses to “Modernist buildings of Frinton Park Estate”

  1. Vicky
    May 2, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

    Beyond gorgeous

  2. Stacey
    May 6, 2013 at 4:47 am #

    The third pic reminds me very much of a house in Herne Hill built for a man who made his fortune in ice cream sales. It was said to be shaped like an ice cream van — wish I could find a photo of it online! Nice bit of modernism in the middle of South London.

  3. Madeleine
    May 9, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

    I’ve actually been to Frinton but didn’t see those.

    • myfriendshouse
      May 10, 2013 at 11:23 am #

      Worth a second visit?! Ah Miami, you I’d like to see…

  4. Mike
    January 22, 2014 at 9:19 pm #

    Frinton still has some excellent examples of Hill’s work. Unfortunately, the local council has little or no interest in them or promoting them. The estate hall (most recently used as a Masonic Lodge) is neglected and due to be demolished – much to the delight of the council. In the last few years there have been built a couple of blocks of seafront flats in the same style, which councillors criticised for having that ‘look’!

    • myfriendshouse
      January 23, 2014 at 6:15 pm #

      Such a shame, they will look back and cringe. Or maybe not. Thanks for leaving a comment Mike, do you live in the area or just a fan of Deco?

  5. Mike
    January 23, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

    I’m an art deco fan and live in the area, so find their attitude terrible. We have something unique and it is being ignored. Some are still not listed and many have already been ruined with double glazing and unsympathetic building work. I only wish I could afford one!

    • myfriendshouse
      January 24, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

      Sounds like you’d be a worthy owner if you could Mike. Tis always ghastly watching a nice building being butchered.

  6. Leonora Petrou
    March 3, 2015 at 6:04 pm #

    Oliver Hill furnished the Show Home which belonged to Andrew Weaving with Gerald Summers designs. These are photographed in the Country Life feature which you refer to. Summers was the most brilliant British Modernist designer whose Bent Plywood Armchair (which was included in Frinton) is in all the major museums in the world including the Victoria & Albert Museum in London; it can be seen in the new furniture galleries which opened a couple of years ago.
    I’d be happy to email you a copy of the feature if you’d be interested?

    • myfriendshouse
      March 5, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

      Thanks Leonora that sounds really fascinating and please do email if you have time – we’re on

      Very pleased you stopped to comment.

  7. Mike
    April 4, 2015 at 5:36 pm #

    Sad to report that as of today (4th April 2015) the Estate Hall at Frinton on Sea is no more. It was run-down and vandalised since being vacated by the local Masonic Lodge, the demolition encouraged by the local council (Tendring District) who, as I have commented before, totally failed to see what an architectural gem they have in the Hill estate (a few members of the council actively dislike the surviving buildings!)
    This part of Essex (Chelmsford to the coast) is a culture desert and such wanton destruction only makes it worse. Annoyingly, the council seems to have a bottomless pit of money for an annual airshow that benefits none of us local residents!

  8. vic wilson
    April 13, 2015 at 1:21 pm #

    So sad to see the old masonic lodge at Frinton got rid of. What philistine mentality was behind the destruction? I remember passing it twice a day to and from school at Walton. The building is part of my memory,(I am 74years old.) Ah well, everything changes eventually, I suppose.

    Vic Wilson

    Southend -on-Sea

  9. Jennie Martin
    January 19, 2016 at 12:21 pm #

    I grew up just along the road from the Masonic Lodge and we had a beach hut directly over from Central Avenue. The woods and beach were our playground. When we saw these houses every day as children, they were just normal everyday buildings with a funny shape, as an adult I appreciate them much more. Sad to see the Lodge go. Although I moved and settled in Sussex, this part of Essex will always have a special place in my heart and family are still in the area.

    • myfriendshouse
      January 19, 2016 at 1:55 pm #

      Thanks jennie – lovely to hear that memory of these houses from you. Essex is so under-rated as a place full of natural beauty and quirky buildings.

Leave a Reply

Leave your opinion here. Please be nice. Your email address will be kept private.