The Arts and Crafts movement started in England around the end of the 19th century, as a reaction against the mass production and homogenisation of Victorian design. With a focus on design aesthetics and using local craftsmen who would use local materials, Arts and Crafts houses fit perfectly with the ethos of the Slow Movement and will appeal to the Slow Traveller.
Here we list twelve of the best Arts and Crafts houses that visitors can actually go into, rather than just admire from the outside.
What are Arts & Crafts Houses?
Arts and Crafts houses are easily recogniseable, made from a variety of locally sourced materials, with asymmetrical roofs, often with gables, and with a very clear form and structure. The emphasis is on the construction, using traditional methods, and the craftmanship involved. The houses tend to blend the charms of a traditional country cottage with a house of larger proportions, providing a quirky character which is often absent in large properties.
As the construction features are so important to the style, they tend to be exposed, with brickwork and timbers on display. Chimneys are usually oversized, leading to brick or stone fireplaces inside and the windows are often made up of smaller panes for a more traditional look. Front doors tend to be substantial and made of wood, and are often included as a main feature in a porchway.
Although the style only lasted for a short time, being lost in the practicality demanded by the world wars, it is still hugely influential today. Many people pine for a return to individuality in design and the landscapes around us, when once again everything is becoming homogenised, globally as well as locally. Now that the significance of the Arts and Crafts movement is being recognised and appreciated, more properties are opening their doors to visitors who are on a quest for the quirky and unique.
Coleton Fishacre, Devon
This wonderful Arts and Crafts house was built in 1925 as a holiday home for the D’Oyly Carte family, atop the cliffs of South Devon near Dartmouth. It has a true Arts and Crafts exterior with pitched roofs and simplistic, hand crafted design.
There are beautiful and extensive gardens which are divided up into ‘rooms’ in the Arts and Crafts style, and which lead right to the sea. Now owned by the National Trust, the house and garden is open to visitors. The interior is decorated for the 1930s and really conjures up a vivid depiction of life for the wealthy in the time of Art Deco. There is even a 1920s holiday flat which is a wonderful place for a Slow holiday. Read more >>
Nuffield Place, Oxfordshire
This Arts and Crafts home was built in 1914 and later bought by Lord Nuffield, creator of the Morris motorcar and Britain’s greatest ever philanthropist, who gave away millions of pounds throughout his lifetime, including iron lungs to any commonwealth country that asked for them.
A modest home, it has typical Arts and Crafts exterior features and interiors, as well as a pretty garden. Now owned by the National Trust, it has been recreated as it was when Lord Nuffield and his wife lived there, with furnishings from the 1930s and with many of their personal items, providing an enlightening look at their lives. Read more >>
Blackwell House, Lake District
Photograph © Tony and Maureen Kemp
This Grade I listed house which overlooks the lakes of Cumbria was designed by the famous architect, Baillie Scott, and completed in 1901 as a holiday home for wealthy brewer, Sir Edward Holt.
The large house is considered to be a masterpiece of the Arts and Crafts movement and still has many of its original features as well as interior furnishings such as wood panelling, stone fireplaces and timber beams.
The terraced gardens were designed by Arts and Crafts garden designer, Thomas Mawson, and overlook some stunning views of the Lake District. The house is now owned by Lakeland Arts who have opened the house to the public >>
Lindisfarne Castle, Northumberland
Lindisfarne is a 16th century castle on Holy Island in Northumberland, which was originally built as a fort. It was extensively altered in 1901 when it was bought by Edward Hudson, the owner of Country Life magazine, who brought in Sir Edwin Lutyens to remodel the property.
He removed many of the fort’s original features, leaving instead a comfortable Edwardian holiday home with a strong Arts and Crafts influence.
Nearby is the Gertrude Jekyll garden, which she created alongside Lutyens in 1911 and which has a typical geometric Arts and Crafts layout. Both castle and garden are owned by the National Trust and open to the public. >>
Photograph © Robin Leicester
Only recently opened to the public, the house was designed by Ernest Gimson, a leading figure in the Arts and Crafts movement, for his brother in 1899. Gimson had met and been greatly influenced by William Morris, who steered him towards his career in architecture.
Gimson also designed much of the furniture and because the house stayed in his family for many years, much of what is in there today is original.
With close attention paid to hand crafting everything from the exterior to the chairs inside, it is a true representation of the movement, with asymmetrical gabled roofs and stone clad fireplaces. The house is now owned by the National Trust and is open to visitors >>
Goddards House, York
Photograph © Edward UK
Built in 1927 for members of the Terry’s chocolate manufacturing family, this house in York was designed by local architect Walter Brierley, who has been described as a Luyens of the North.
As well as the typical hand crafted styling of the exterior, with asymmetrical gables, decorative chimney stacks and geometric bricks, the interior has many original features such as an oak carved staircase, Arts and Crafts wallpapers and wooden panelling.
The garden is typical Arts and Crafts style, divided up into different ‘rooms’, herbaceous borders and a cruciform lily pond. Since the 1980s the house has been a regional headquarters for the National Trust, but now has rooms and gardens open to the public. >>
Red House, London
Photograph © Ethan Doyle White
The Red House just outside London is one of the earliest examples of an Arts and Crafts house, having been designed by Phillip Webb and William Morris, and was Morris’ family home for five years.
Built in 1860, the house was built using his principles of hand crafting and artisan skills. For a while the house became the centre of the movement and had many famous visitors, some of their artwork is still on the walls.
It was here that he started up his famous Morris & Company. The house is now owned by the National Trust who are currently trying to restore the gardens to his original designs, which provided so much influence for his furnishings designs. More details >>
Standen, West Sussex
Photograph © David Illif
This Grade I listed house was built by Phillip Webb in the late 1890s, who designed it for James Beale, a wealthy London solicitor, and his large family. Webb drew his inspiration from Medieval farm buildings, but created a thoroughly modern house.
Built from local construction materials and lavishly decorated inside with William Morris interiors, the house also still has its electric light fittings which were installed when the house was built. The garden was planned as a continuation of the house and the two were meant to form a whole. The house is now owned by the National Trust, who are currently restoring the garden to its former glory. More details >>
Emery Walker’s House, London
Photograph © Emery Walker’s House
7 Hammersmith Terrace was built around the turn of the 19th century, but it is the interior which is of relevance, as the owner was Emery Walker, the founder of the private press revival and a central figure of the Arts and Crafts movement.
He was a good friend of William Morris and they had much in common. Emery Walker lived in the house from 1903 until his death in 1933, when his daughter inherited the house and preserved as much of it as she could. The house is now owned by the Emery Walker Trust who run guided tours on Thursdays and Saturdays in the summer months for visitors. >>
Rodmarton Manor, Gloucestershire
Photograph © Robert Powell
Built in a soft Cotswold stone, this large Grade I listed, privately owned house was built in the early 20th century, hand crafted from wood and stone by local craftsmen.
Described as ‘The English Arts and Crafts Movement at its best is here’ by leading architect C R Ashbee, it was designed by architect Ernest Barnsley, a follower of William Morris, for the Biddulph family who still own it today.
One wing of the house was used for teaching community crafts and the interior furnishings were all bespoke and made locally. Part of the gardens are landscaped as ‘rooms’ following the Arts and Crafts style. Although privately owned, the house and its eight acres of gardens are open to the public for two days a week in the summer months. More details >>
The Barn, Devon
The Barn was built in 1896 by Edward Schroeder Prior, an architect who was a founder of the Arts and Crafts movement.
Built in the design of the 'butterfly plan' with a tall six sided hall with two wings coming off it, it was designed to make the most of the sun and the views.
The Grade II listed Barn is just minutes from the beach at Exmouth with far reaching views. The house was damaged by fire in 1905 and many internal features were lost, but the exterior is still very distinctive Arts and Crafts style. The Barn is now a 4* hotel with amazing gardens and a swimming pool, so visitors can lap up the unusual and stunning design features while exploring the local countryside and surroundings. (As of Spring 2022, the hotel is closed, but may well re-open again soon)
Shaw's Corner, Hertfordshire
Photograph © Jason Ballard
Nobel prize winner George Bernard Shaw lived in this Edwardian villa for over 40 years until his death in 1950. The house was built in 1902 in the Arts and Crafts style, with the typical gabled roof, large windows and attention to details, such as heart shapes cut into the banisters.
It was designed by local architects who used local materials in its construction.
The house has been left as it was when he died in the dining room and is now owned by the National Trust. Read more >>