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Left: 14 South Parade, Bedford Park. Turnham Green, London W4. C. F. A. Voysey. c.1890. [Click on images to enlarge them.]

Ian Nairn and Nikolaus Pevsner describe Shaw as "stepfather to Voysey" (69), so perhaps it was natural that Voysey should have been drawn to Bedford Park. But this "startling white house" built for the artist J. W. Foster was apparently intended "as a protest against the bland red brick of the rest of the 'suburb'" and provoked criticism for "the old-fashioned look of the white stucco and leaded light windows" ("A Guide to Bedford Park"). Later judgements have been much more favourable, finding the house with its "white roughcast render and stone trim" to be an "outstanding example" of Arts and Crafts architecture (Durant 174).

Commentary from the 1897 Studio

Perhaps the best known of all this architect's work is An Artist's Cottage at Bedford Park, a white house in the very centre of the red-brick revival, a "cottage" of three storeys, that contains a studio 31 ft. by 17 ft., and a parlour 17 ft. 6 in. by 14 ft., with three bedrooms and the usual offices. The contract price for this was 494 105., a price that takes one's breath away, and tempts one to believe that if the site were obtained it would be economic as well as delightful to quit one's present tenancy, and employ Mr. Voysey to design another for one's own needs. It is amusing to read that it was found necessary, in order to prevent the builder from displaying the usual "ovolo mouldings," "stop chamfers," fillets, and the like, to prepare eighteen sheets of contract drawings to show where his beloved ornamentation was to be omitted. Plus topsy-turvy proceeding is delightfully suggestive of the entirely mechanical adornment in general use which is so thoroughly a part of the routine that great pains have to be taken to prevent the work men from unconscious "decoration," according their wonted habit. . . . But the value of Mr. Voysey's art is not in the use of any material, or on any mannerism, but in his evident effort to seek first the utilitarian qualities of strength and fitness, and to obtain beauty by common honesty. This separates it at once from the spurious honesty which ultra-Gothic designers made ridiculous; or from an affectation of clumsy simplicity which defeats its purpose. In these houses illustrated you can discover that it is neither Gothic nor Classic architecture which Mr. Voysey practises, but house building pure and simple, The habit of making pretty pictures, to be carried out in all available materials, regardless of cost and, often enough, of good taste also, has not attracted him, as it failed to attract the other men of his profession who have regained a lost position for English domestic architecture.

Other Homes in Bedford Park

Related Material

Sources

Durant, David N. The Handbook of British Architectural Styles. London: Barrie & Jenkins, 1992.

"A Guide to Bedford Park: The First Garden Suburb." Viewed 24 September 2008.

Nairn, Ian, and Nikolaus Pevsner. The Buildings of England: Surrey. Harmondsworth: Penguin, rev. ed. 1971.


Last modified 24 September 2008