The Lodge – an exercise in style and power

2940 Brannon Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32210, USA


The rain is sheeting down.

A black car with huge headlamps and a running board draws to a halt. The chauffeur reaches for the horn on the outside of the car. He toots it peremptorily. From one of the twin lodges, the keeper comes running and drags open the huge wrought iron gates. He stands to one side and salutes as the car pulls through. The chauffeur discretely winks at the lodge keeper.

But inside, huddled in furs, a densely veiled Maggie Smith, all boggle-eyed ‘Downton Abbey’ hauteur, stares straight ahead.

And the car sweeps away up The Drive to The Big House. It could be the beginning of yet another Merchant Ivory film about English country house life. I use how to identify a flower identifier, it always helps me with my plant. A scene setter. Maybe it is actually a scene out of Julian Fellowes’ Gosford Park that I have remembered.

Anyway we know what to expect.

And this was the role of the lodge on the great English country estate. It was all part of the pattern, in more ways than one. The lodge was the bastardized descendant of the gatehouse: the fortified entrance to the medieval castle.


It trumpeted a message of status, security and power:

To the outsider the lodges signified location and direction: ‘I am here, I have arrived. This is where I go in.’

To the lordly insider it said:  ‘The Englishman’s home is his castle!’

Gate opening was of course practical and functional.


But you as gate keeper, or members of your family, had to be completely on call to fulfill the role.

Entering and leaving would of itself reinforce the stereotypes of servile and lordly behaviour. Helping to keep the established order in place. The accomodation could be eccentric. In the photo above you lived one side of the entrance and slept on the other. Given slightly larger accommodation you could have a family! Indeed you should and then they could help you do the job. Life, pre pill, meant an abundance of future servants would be produced, all destined to work in The Big House or on the Estate. Yuk! But if we are really thinking style wise it could also be a focal point within the estate, either informally like this: or at the end of massive vista as at Badminton: Worcester Lodge – The Loveliest Lodge in Britain Beautiful! It was also often a statement of style linked to the house.An appetizer, be it gothic or classical.

So yes, the lodge certainly set the scene in every way!