House for Essex:ballot reopens for weekend rentals at Grayson Perry's lavish Hansel and Gretel folly

The Turner Prize winning artist's House for Essex is to be opened to guests for its second year, but enter now as there's not much time left...

Londoners have another chance to stay in one of Britain's most famous houses, as this year's ballot opens on Grayson Perry's beautifully strange House for Essex.

Resembling a surreal Hansel and Gretel dwelling, the house was the brainchild of philosopher and author Alain De Botton, who persuaded Perry to create a house based on the county he was born in for de Botton's Living Architecture Company. 

Perry then worked with London-based FAT Architecture practice to come up with a jewellery box of a building that told a story about an imaginary woman called Julie, who was born in Canvey Island in 1953, married refinery worker Dave in her youth and had two children with him before an affair ended their marriage. She subsequently wed Rob, who commissioned this ornate house in her memory after she was knocked down and killed by a curry delivery driver in Colchester.

Lucky winners of the draw will be able to discover more about her life during their stay in the two-bedroom house on the Stour estuary in north Essex, which was designed from the beginning as a holiday rental, albeit a very unusual one, for the Living Architecture Company and received its first overnight visitors last summer.

Perry created the tapestries inside and designed the 2,000 glossy, green and white, equilateral triangle ceramic tiles bearing moulded motifs which were hand made for the outside by Shaws of Darwen in Lancashire, a company best known for its Butler sinks. The aluminium roof sculptures were made by Millimetre in Brighton, and include a painted egg, a naked pregnant woman and a weather vane resembling a ship’s compass.

The house revived the ancient tradition of wayfaring chapels, which were designed to shelter and comfort exhausted travellers, and its curved gable windows and shimmering copper-alloy roof are mesmerising as you approach. It might look like a folly, but once through the red double doors, this is a real and welcoming home, with a double-height living room extending into the steep eaves.

The draw offers the chance to purchase a two-night or three-night stay for up to four people during July and August and closes on May 10. Prices range from £750 to £1,800 and you can enter here. 

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