Ever since the world started speeding up with the advent of industrialisation, dissenters have been calling for a return to the old ways, and in the world of architecture, they instigated the Arts and Crafts movement. This started in England in the 19th century and was inspired by art critic John Ruskin, who was concerned by the monotony of mass production, which he felt unskilled workers and deadened creativity. Instead, he wanted a return to craftsmanship and ornament, rooted in the medieval past.
Designer and poet William Morris put these ideas into practice within the home, with furnishings and artefacts, but the trend was adopted by architects too, and their Arts and Crafts buildings tend to be asymmetrical, built with clear lines using traditional construction methods, and are exemplars of craftsmanship.
Although the movement lost its edge around the end of the 19th century, houses were still being built to designs inspired by the aesthetic well into the 20th century.
Nostalgists like Ruskin and Morris may have been fighting a losing battle, but their rearguard action against modernity has undeniably left an indelible mark on our townscapes. As a result, there are plenty of Arts and Crafts properties in our area – especially in Harrogate, around the Duchy estate and south of the Stray – and even more, many of them built recently, that emulate the style if not the spirit.
The following three homes are all inspired by the movement, and are all currently for sale.
Coverdale House, a six-bedroom detached property in large gardens on the edge of Knaresborough, is a fine example. The herringbone brickwork of the porch and towering chimneys are typical, and the feast of features continues inside, with wood paneling and leaded windows. But the undisputed jewels in the crown are the unique “Mouseman” double entrance doors and an interior door, which were made by Robert Thompson’s Craftsman Ltd, of Kilburn, over 30 years ago.
In Harrogate, 20 Stray Walk displays the asymmetrical profile and half-timbered exterior so beloved of those medievalist Arts and Crafts architects. It has four bedrooms, a house bathroom, loft, kitchen, three reception rooms, integral single garage and gardens to the front and back.
Finally, 4 Wheatlands Road is a semi-detached house off Leeds Road in Harrogate, and is included here because of its half-timbering and leaded windows, both of which became popular directly because of the Arts and Crafts movement. It has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchen, two reception rooms, and a garage which has been converted into a store to the front and a gym/office to the rear. There are also gardens to the front and back, plus off-street parking.