CFA Voysey: The Pathfinder (1857 - 1941)

Saturday 22nd April 2006

Charles Voysey Credit: courtesy Tom Bogdanowicz)
(photo: courtesy Tom Bogdanowicz)

The first British domestic architect to gain an international reputation, Charles Voysey had a career that took him from stardom to financial difficulties and back to the limelight.

Voysey was a pathfinder of the British Arts and Crafts movement and his striking yet austere white houses with medieval style windows are variously seen as precursors of modernism; examples of individualism in architecture; or even as a British variant of Art Nouveau.

Perfect Day

When we gathered at Streatham Station, one of the ugliest buildings on a road that was voted the worst in the UK, little did we know that a perfect day was in store.

It began within yards of the station - we were welcomed inside an enormous Voysey designed mansion and provided with an expert history of the Arts and Crafts master's work.

We also discovered Voysey's talent at designing the most comfortable bench seats in the world. More wonders followed as we spotted Voysey's secret signatures on houses such as his profile carved into a porch support.

A lazy riverside lunch in Hammersmith and on we pedalled to V's only industrial building. A train connection took us to the unknown Voysey Pleasure Park which the park keeper unlocked for the occasion.

Then Voysey's dad's house; the home he designed for the illustrator Arthur Rackham; and his two grand terrace houses next to Harrods. We'd completed the first ever ride to visit every Voysey building in London on a beautiful day in great company.

 Credit: courtesy Tom Bogdanowicz
(Photo: courtesy Tom Bogdanowicz)

As Lou Reed sang - 'such a perfect day.' And many thanks to the Voysey house owners and custodians who helped make it perfect.