Gradually, a reaction set in to the mixed classical and Gothic styles of
mid-Victorian architecture and to the artificiality – and perceived ugliness -
of machine made building parts and fittings. The result was the emergence of the
Arts and Crafts Movement which created a new aesthetic approach in all fields of
design based on a search for greater ‘truthfulness’ and simplicity in design. In
domestic architecture it led to the rise of a new style frequently referred to
as the ‘Old English Revival’. This can be traced to the building of the Red
House at Bexley Heath, Kent, designed by Philip Webb (1831-1915) for William
Morris in 1859. Rejecting machine made decoration, Morris and his circle of
friends made some of the fittings - including the stained glass and tiles -
themselves. The house was built of red brick with a high pitched, red tiled roof
and incorporated such romantic features as a turret, oriel windows and gables.
It marked a return to the vernacular tradition of building and became, in the
words of John Cloag, ‘the progenitor of a new school of domestic architecture’.
Much imitated, it became a dominant influence on the so-called ‘stock broker
belt’ housing – large detached houses built mainly in southern commuter villages
like Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire up to 1939.
In the 1890s, a new interpretation of the Old English Revival emerged
through the work of C.F.A.
Voysey (1857-1941) and Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944). In some of his country
houses, Lutyens combined classical style with the use of local materials as at
Heathcote, Yorkshire. The houses of Voysey and his followers built in the early
1900s for wealthy clients struck a modern look with their low ceilinged rooms,
horizontal windows, roofs sweeping almost down to ground level and white rough
cast or pebble dash walls, although Voysey always saw himself as an architect
working firmly within the traditions of English vernacular architecture; his use
of pebble dash, for example, came from the traditional harling of Scotland and
Cumbria. The photo on the right shows The White House by Dare Bryan after C. F.
A. Voysey, Leigh Woods, N. Somerset, 1901.