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Arts & Crafts House Styles

Arts & Crafts House Styles

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Arts & Crafts House Styles

155 pages
58 minutes
Mar 12, 2012


The Arts & Crafts movement began as an instinctive reaction to the new Industrial Age. Seeking a return to simple craftsmanship, with traditional materials, its influence spread both to Europe and North America, where the term 'craftsman' denoted a traditional style of architecture and interior design prevalent before the 1920s. In England the Arts & Crafts influence upon house building was far-reaching between 1870 and 1914. This was not least because its cosmetic (rather than ethical) details were copied by commercial builders. The result was some superb buildings by key architects like Norman Shaw and Voysey, but also a significant number of others ranging from simple terraces to the finest detached houses of the period. Using both illustrations and photographs, Trevor Yorke shows the distinctive features of genuine Arts & Crafts homes. These range from wide-arched porches, elongated mullioned windows and sloping buttresses, to terracotta plaques, decorative ironwork and patterned bargeboards. There are also chapters on the use of interior space and on the furnishings and fittings which characterised Arts & Crafts house interiors, including examples of furniture, wallpapers, fabrics, door handles, hinges and light fittings. This is the perfect book for those who want to learn more about the simplicity and elegance of the Arts & Crafts style.
Mar 12, 2012

À propos de l'auteur

Trevor Yorke is a professional author and artist who has studied and written about various aspects of England's architectural and industrial heritage. He has produced many illustrated books that introduce the reader to these topics and writes articles and reviews for various magazines. He lives in the UK.

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Arts & Crafts House Styles - Trevor Yorke

Trevor Yorke



First published 2011

© Trevor Yorke 2011

All rights reserved. No reproduction

permitted without the prior permission

of the publisher:


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Newbury, Berkshire

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ISBN 978 1 84674 230 9

Designed by Peter Davies, Nautilus Design

Produced through MRM Associates Ltd., Reading

Printed by Information Press, Oxford




Definition and Origins


Architects and Houses


Speculative Housing and Social Housing Schemes


Doors, Windows and Fittings


Space and Light





‘To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.’ This golden rule of physics would have found resonance with the leading figures in Victorian culture. A nation whose apparent glory had been founded upon groundbreaking industrial developments and inventive entrepreneurs was very adept at masking the effects of such rapid change – a dark underbelly of social discontent created by poor living conditions, long working hours and a monotonous factory system. In response to this, a new generation of social reformers, architects and designers sought in the latter half of the 19th century to restore dignity and pride to workers and create buildings and objects of simplicity and beauty based upon an idealised medieval world. The Arts & Crafts movement, as it would become known, began a revolution in design and drew attention to the plight of industrial workers but it was the houses that its adherents built and the fittings they crafted that are their most distinctive and notable contribution.

Yet, unlike other styles based upon an easily recognisable architectural feature or rule, Arts & Crafts buildings can be found with many sources of inspiration and no single detail common to them all. One of the movement’s characteristics is the inventiveness of its exponents, who not only created modern forms based upon a wide variety of historic styles but also used the surrounding landscape and the demands of the interior to shape the structure of the houses so that no two are alike. Identifying them is made all the more complicated because, in addition to the designs of the leading independent designers, there were hundreds of local architects producing work inspired by them and thousands of speculative builders applying their fashionable details to standard terraces and semis. Despite this, there are some key characteristics that were shared by many of those working in the movement, and contemporary features and regulations that can help with dating a building and make their revolutionary designs stand out from the majority of Victorian and Edwardian housing.

This book sets out to explain the background, introduce the most notable architects and show, using clearly labelled illustrations and photographs, what makes Arts & Crafts houses different from others produced in this period. The first chapter defines the basic rules that link them, the significant figures who inspired the formation of the movement and its effect upon contemporary and later culture. The second chapter looks at the work of the leading architects, giving a brief biography of each and examples of their work, along with a more detailed description of the style. The next chapter describes the attempts to produce large-scale estates within the ethical rules of the movement and helps the reader to differentiate the work of famous architects from those buildings today referred to as ‘Arts & Crafts’ but which are usually mass-produced housing, with fashionable fittings and materials added to standard structures. The fourth chapter has photographs of distinctive features and details that can help identify the style and aid renovation, while the final part looks inside at the rooms and the decoration that so revolutionised interior design.

For anyone who simply wants to recognise the style, understand the contribution of key characters and appreciate what makes Arts & Crafts houses special, this book offers an easy-to-follow introduction to the subject. If the reader is fortunate enough to own such a house, then the illustrations and text will hopefully assist any planned renovation or redecoration while the list of places to visit and contacts at the end can help take any studies further. For those of us who can but look on and admire, I hope the book helps clarify the true essence of the style and why it is such a unique and valuable contribution to a street, a community or even a town, one which should be better appreciated and lovingly protected.

Trevor Yorke

Definition and Origins

FIG 1.1: The Arts & Crafts movement was instrumental in bringing the countryside into the town and shaping the distinctive housing estates of the first half of the 20th century.

What is an Arts & Crafts House?

A true Arts & Crafts house is one where traditional materials, techniques and styles from the local area (vernacular) were used to create a building of good quality and simple form, in which the function of the interior spaces was as important as the shape of the exterior. The architect was usually involved in the design of every detail, from the structure down to the handle on the front door, while craftsmen hand-made the decorative details used to enliven the surface of the house, which relied upon variety in texture of materials to break up their otherwise plain form. Although some houses have been built to this strict doctrine over the past 150 years and can rightly be described as Arts & Crafts style, the buildings that are usually referred to as such were mainly erected from the 1870s to the early 1900s by architects working loosely under the banner of the Arts & Crafts movement and are described in detail in Chapter 2.

By their very nature of being custom-designed and hand-made, these houses were very expensive and were usually reserved for the upper middle classes. Attempts to create homes for the masses using some of these principles were made most notably in workers’ estates linked to factories like Port Sunlight and Bournville or later at Letchworth Garden City. However, for the majority, their terraced houses were built to standard forms with little expression of style. For

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