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.