The Twentieth Century Society

Review: The Arts and Crafts Movement in Yorkshire & the North East of England

The Arts and Crafts Movement in Yorkshire: A Handbook & The Arts and Crafts Movement in the North East of England: A Handbook

by Barrie and Wendy Armstrong (Oblong Creative Ltd, 424pp and 304pp, £25 and £21)

Reviewed by Robert Drake

The Armstrongs produced their first book, on the Arts & Crafts movement in the North West, in 2005. It is a guide I treasure, though it is now out of print and virtually unobtainable. Now they have produced two further volumes, covering the North East of England and Yorkshire. They follow the same format, with a full introduction to the highlights of the region (thankfully taking a broad view of what Arts & Crafts is), a Gazetteer by county and a ‘who’s who’ section. Both titles have high quality colour illustrations, particularly of stained glass. My only minor cavil is that including postcodes would have been useful to aid navigation.

The Yorkshire volume has a strong focus on the former coalfield areas of West and South Yorkshire. It includes some of the early C20 churches and housing projects in the area by colliery owners, such as Voysey’s housing at Whitwood near Castleford for Arthur Currer Briggs (1904) and the Woodlands model village at Adwick-le-Street near Doncaster by Percy Houfton of Chesterfield (1911/12). The latter has the church of All Saints (by Wood and Oakley), paid for by the Thelusson family of nearby Brodsworth Hall. As with so many churches of just pre-WW1 most of the fine fittings are post 1918, with for example windows by the Modern Art Glass Studio of Leeds.

In the North East volume the Armstrongs’ meticulous research again extends beyond the nationally-known examples (such as St Andrew’s Roker by ES Prior) to a wealth of private houses and places of worship. Here is Hethpool House and its estate cottages in a remote location near the Scottish border, rebuilt by G Reavell and altered again by Mauchlen and Weightman in 1928. And here is St James’s and St Basil’s church at Fenham (Newcastle) by Eric Lofting (1928-32), with a fine ensemble of fittings and windows. These books will be invaluable for our casework and also indispensable guides to touring the North East and Yorkshire.

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