14 South Parade
- Original design
- CFA Voysey, 1891
The 2018 programme is now past. We will be launching the 2019 programme mid-August.
This 1891 house was one of the first to be built from the designs of the architect C F A Voysey (1857-1941). The plans were provided for Mrs Forster and her artist husband Joseph Wilson Forster and incorporated elements of two previous designs (for the unbuilt ‘Tower House’ and his first drawings for a house on this site).
Successful artists flourished in the last two decades of the 19th century, and many were able to commission houses including a large studio with a north-facing window. Notable clusters of these houses (many in the Queen Anne Arts and Crafts style) can be found nearby in the Bedford Park estate, Tite Street, Chelsea, Melbury Road, Holland Park and along the Talgarth Road in Hammersmith.
14 South Parade is in contrast a tower house “extraordinary in its austere simplicity and elegant proportions … the composition – the imposition of a stark white cube, sparsely detailed and emphatically vertical, into an area of refined red brick Queen Anne houses, which were designed with all the decorative variety that [Richard Norman] Shaw could muster – was overtly individual, if not a little shocking. Equally important to the scope of Voysey’s reputation, the house was clearly visible to middle-class commuters travelling westwards out of London on the District line … The tall elegant arrangement of the Forster house and its adept planning can be likened to Regency houses” (1). A contemporary writer in The Studio commented: “If you study the plans for [Voysey’s] small houses you will be amazed to find how liberal is the space compared with the [low] cost of building [£494.10s.]”.
The front elevation of the house is “idiosyncratically tall and slender and with a low pitched roof … it has a [deep] bay, terminating in a canopy with concave curves which has Georgian overtones” (2). The bay is tiled and the walls are covered with roughcast; deep eaves extend flat from the roof supported by slim curved wrought-iron brackets.
The interior of the house has wooden floors and sturdy horizontal-panelled doors with wrought-iron hinges throughout. The brick fireplace in the parlour has a semi-circular opening and a small flue cover with a decorative bird motif high up on the chimney breast. This was copied by the current owner from the original above the tiled fireplace in the sitting room located in the side extension, which the previous owners converted back from its use for several years as a garage.
The window detailing which became a trademark of the Voysey house is used here for the first time, leaded panes set in an iron frame with iron fittings, within stone dressings (seen as old-fashioned by local residents when the house was first built).
Rising from the hall the dog-leg staircase has wooden banisters with spiral wooden columns of a later date surmounting the newel posts. The first floor has four bedrooms (not on view to Open House visitors).
The artist’s studio occupies all of the second floor and has a ceiling with thin cross beams, a high wooden fireplace with a shelf supported by brackets and parquet flooring. An area set aside for the artist’s model is shown on the architectural plans under the small west window. The north-facing rear window, giving the light favoured by artists to assist in their painting, extends across almost the width of the wall and carries up into the roof-line. The bookcases were constructed by the current owners.
“The deficiencies in living space in the house were soon acknowledged by the addition in 1894 of a side extension on two floors. The disruption this has caused to the original effect is apparent at first glance and does reflect on the impracticality of Voysey’s first efforts here. Even so the house is a striking one, effective even now and impressive as the first substantial contribution of its designer to the architecture of his day” (3).
(1) C F A Voysey: An Architect of Individuality, Duncan Simpson, (Lund Humphries, 1979) (2) C F A Voysey, Wendy Hitchmough (Phaidon, 1997) (3) Simpson, op.cit.