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Voysey, Charles Francis Annesley

Voysey, Charles Francis Annesley (1857–1941). English Arts-and-Crafts architect and designer, much influenced by Mackmurdo and Morris. Apprenticed to Seddon in 1874, he later (1880) worked with Devey before establishing his own practice in 1882. From then until the 1914–18 war he designed many medium-sized country-houses, all beautifully sited, informally and asymmetrically composed with exteriors rendered in pebble-dash, and nearly all with bands of windows subdivided by square unmoulded mullions. Battered buttresses, wide over-hanging eaves, and steeply pitched roofs often featured in his buildings, which were largely based on vernacular C16 and early C17 traditions, and also influenced by the work of Devey. His fireplaces, furniture, and details were influenced by Mackmurdo, and in turn were precedents for Mackintosh. Typical of his country-houses that were widely admired at the time were Perrycroft, Colwall, Herefs. (1893–4), Broadleys (1898) and Moor Crag (1898–1900), near Windermere, Westmd., in the English Lake District, and The Pastures House, North Luffenham, Rut. (1901). Forster House, 14 South Parade, Bedford Park, Chiswick (1888–91 and 1894), owed something to Art Nouveau, but also to mullioned vernacular architecture and Regency metal verandah roofs. His only house in Ireland, ‘Dallas’, 149 Malone Road, Belfast (1911–12), is very similar to his English domestic work. Voysey's designs were widely publicized in The Studio magazine and by Muthesius in Das englische Haus (1904–5), but in the British Isles tended to be parodied in countless speculative houses built in the 1920s and 1930s, although Voysey himself had virtually no commissions after 1918. One of his most interesting designs is the Sanderson Wallpaper Factory, Chiswick (1902), with its bold piers and glazed-brick walls. Pevsner greatly admired The Orchard, Chorley Wood, Herts. (1899–1901), Voysey's own house, unaccountably seeing in it and his other houses, with their bold ‘bare walls and long horizontal bands of windows’, precedents for the International Modern Movement, and made what seem to be spurious claims for Voysey (who was Master of the Art Workers' Guild in 1924) as a ‘pioneer’ of modern design (1937), notably at Broadleys, where Pevsner detected Voysey coming ‘amazingly close’ to a C20 ‘concrete and glass grid’: Voysey (like Baillie Scott) dismissed such interpretations of his work as complete nonsense, and was irritated by what he saw as Pevsner's preposterous claims. While Voysey had no qualms about using machinery (e.g. to reproduce his wallpaper designs), he actually detested the International style, claiming it could not last and that its Godless creators knew nothing of spirituality and of that which was exalted.

Bibliography

Brandon-Jones et al. (1978);
Durant (1992);
Gebhard (1975);
A. S. Gray (1985);
Hitchmough (1995);
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004);
Placzek (ed.) (1982);
Pevsner (ed.) (1960, 1968);
M. Richardson (1983);
D. Simpson (1979);
Jane Turner (1996);

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Voysey, Charles Francis Annesley

Charles Francis Annesley Voysey, 1857–1941, English decorator and architect. He was the first modern English architect to design houses almost free of stylistic reminiscences. He also incorporated truly original features in fenestration and semiopen planning. In 1898, Voysey designed what is considered to be his finest work, "Broadleys," on Lake Windermere. Horizontality is emphasized by the low-pitched roof; a vertical counterpoint is established by three groups of rounded bay windows; and the main hall rises through two stories. Voysey's designs influenced architects in Europe and America.

See study by W. Hitchmough (1995).

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