The first pioneer of modern architecture

Charles Voysey is considered to be one of the first originators of British modern architecture. The English architect, textile and furniture designer created around fifty buildings, many of which sadly no longer stand today. A number of his houses have recently emerged on the market, creating a renewed interest in this somewhat forgotten figure.

Voysey was respected for his aesthetically pleasing, yet progressive designs. He ignored the whims of fashion, instead choosing a dignified, composed style, which made him a favourite among industrialists and politicians of the period. His architecture, although simple and practical, still contained a certain poeticism in the purity of his lines.

His early career started designing fabrics and furnishings. His style was a simple Arts and Crafts one, influenced by the art of William Morris. Charming examples of his work, which reflect Morris’ interest in plant forms and patterned designs, survive today in the V&A.

In an interview with The Studio in 1893, Voysey promoted a sparser treatment of interiors, declaring: “A very simple or quite undecorated treatment of the walls would be preferable.” This statement was not characteristic of his work: many of his houses, including his own, The Orchard, were adorned with decorative wallpapers. In other properties, Voysey meticulously designed every detail, from the architecture down to the furniture.

Voysey’s textiles and architectural designs are simplistic, with a limited colour palette, creating a paired-down aesthetic. His buildings stood in contrast to the complexities of the Victorian design, which established him as one of the first practitioners who truly understood industrial design. Inspired by 16th and early 17th century architecture, his houses often feature huge pitched roofs and horizontal ribbon windows. Voysey’s key strength was his ability to juxtapose curves and geometric motifs; his most exciting work comes when he explores this relationship. With few Voysey properties on the market, his houses are now considered rare commodities.

Chelsea Embankment, London, SW3
Guide Price: £20m

The interior is considered to be one of the finest examples of Charles Voysey’s work, both in terms of the quality of its fixtures and fittings and the ingenuity of its design. The full-height principal staircase with top-lit well, bedroom furniture and the drawing room, which features a barrel ceiling, are all unique designs of the English architect.

Contact Savills on savills.co.uk or call 020 7730 0822

Lyford Road, Wandsworth, SW1
Guide Price: £4.8m

This grade II listed Arts & Crafts villa is a beautiful example of Charles Voysey’s work. Designed in 1903, it maintains a wealth of original features, such as the wood panelled walls, Portland stone windows and Voysey fireplaces.

Contact Savills on savills.co.uk or call 020 8877 1222