Charles Francis An­nes­ley Voy­sey

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Voy­sey was born in 1857 at Hessle, near Hull. His fa­ther was an Angli­can min­is­ter also called Charles, who be­came no­to­ri­ous for chal­leng­ing the truth of the Bi­ble and was de­clared a heretic. The fam­ily then moved to Lon­don where Charles Snr set up the Theis­tic Church.

Voy­sey was mainly home schooled, briefly go­ing to Dul­wich Col­lege. In 1874 he was ar­ti­cled to ar­chi­tect J.P. Seddon, stay­ing un­til 1879, then mov­ing on to as­sist Henry Saxon Snell be­fore go­ing to the of­fice of Ge­orge Davey.

In 1881 he opened his own prac­tice. He ce­mented his rep­u­ta­tion 10 years later by the con­struc­tion of Tower House in Bed­ford Park, Chiswick.

Dur­ing his ca­reer he de­signed about 50 houses and be­came one of the go-to architects for the pro­gres­sive mid­dle-class clients in the UK.

Some of his most fa­mous build­ings in­clude Greyfri­ars in Sur­rey; the Or­chard – his own home – in Chor­ley­wood; Broadleys in Win­der­mere; and Lit­tle­holme in Ken­dall. His ar­chi­tec­tural work dried up be­fore World War I, thought to be partly due to a change in fash­ion and partly be­cause of his un­com­pro­mis­ing ways.

Voy­sey was also a dis­tin­guished de­signer of wall­pa­pers, fab­rics, tiles and car­pets, his de­signs fea­tur­ing swirly stylised nat­u­ral forms, es­pe­cially plants and birds.

His Squir­rel and Dove de­sign wall­pa­per was first pro­duced by San­der­son in the 1890s and is still be­ing sold to­day. He was more pro­lific as a pat­tern de­signer than as an ar­chi­tect and his ca­reer in this spanned from the 1880s to the 1930s.

He es­tab­lished a rep­u­ta­tion as one of the great­est forces in English Arts and Crafts and he is said to have in­flu­enced and in­spired many younger architects such as Ed­win Lu­tyens, Charles Ren­nie Mack­in­tosh, Ray­mond Un­win and Mackay Bail­lie Scott.

He fi­nally won recog­ni­tion for his work in 1931 with an ex­hi­bi­tion, fol­lowed in 1936 by a Royal So­ci­ety of Arts Award and fi­nally, a RIBA Gold Medal in 1940. He died in Fe­bru­ary 1941.

Meet­ing of the Voy­sey So­ci­ety gath­ered at Whit­wood in 2015.

Charles F.A Voy­sey.

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