Herefordshire was judged a little too remote for most Midlands industrialists seeking a rural retreat in the Arts and Crafts idiom.
But Perrycroft, with its roughcast walls,
massive rendered stacks and sweeping slate roofs aligned towards
the majestic hill fort of British Camp, provides a notable
Perrycroft in Colwall, near Malvern, was
designed by Charles Francis Annesley Voysey (1857-1941) in 1893 for
John William Wilson (1858-1932), a railway magnate and British
politician who served for 27 years as a Liberal Party MP for North
Worcestershire (later Stourbridge).
His summer house was completed two years
later, by which time his architect - based in St John's Wood next
door to fellow Arts and Crafts architect Edward Schroeder Prior -
was in his creative pomp.
A remarkable paper archive relating to
Perrycroft emerged for sale at Gloucestershire saleroom
Stroud Auction Rooms on July 10-11, part of a large number of
items brought to a valuation day by a lady clearing the house of a
distant relative. In time-honoured style, her next planned stop was
the local tip.
The large majority of material reflected
estate management: correspondence with the local parish council
regarding the route of a footpath, 1920s plans and paperwork from
Tuke and Bell relating to the sewerage system and ephemera relating
to water quality at Perrycroft (including samples taken by the
Belle Vue Pharmacy, Malvern, dated 1896).
Offered in three lots estimated at £40-60
each, these sold for between £50 and £340.
But predictably it was those lots with a
direct link to the career - and the pen - of C.F.A. Voysey himself
that were most eagerly contested.
These spanned three eras in the history of
Voysey's involvement with the design of Perrycroft.
We learn from Voysey's statement of account
for the house, stables and lodge dated December 1895 that the total
cost of the build was £6513-17s-5d.
This eight-page document written in Voysey's
hand amounted to an itemised bill of the type that tradesmen still
issue today - and make it clear that Voysey's role in the project
was more than mere architect. Estimated at £200-400, it sold at
The following two lots were architect's
drawings from later periods: one signed and dated bottom right
April 17, 1907, relating to the addition of a cloakroom to the
house, the other, signed and dated May 1924, detailing a more
substantial series of alterations and additions. It had the words
wet paint scrawled across the back in pencil -
evidence it had once been used as mere signage.
The former, primarily a floor plan with a
small side elevation measuring 10½in x 2ft 6¾in (27 x 78cm),
executed in black and red ink, sold at £3100 (estimate £800
But the latter, at 13¾in x 2ft 4½in (35 x
72cm), was also more visually impressive, including two side
elevations of the house with details picked out in watercolour.
Sold with a series of correspondence relating to the loan of the
drawing to an exhibition, it was taken all the way to £9800
With the exception of the cloakroom drawing
(sold to a buyer on the telephone who provided robust competition
for many of these Perrycroft lots), all were knocked down to a
buyer in the room. It subsequently emerged that he was acting for
Mark and Gillian Archer, who have owned Perrycroft since 1999.
After 30 years of neglect, the property has
now been fully restored, with the ten-acre garden (partly designed
by Voysey) now open to the public.