Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Wortley Voysey







Last night I delivered the mother-of-my-children up to the welcoming arms of the Women's Institute in Earl Shilton, Leicestershire, whilst her gamekeeper and I went in search of sustenance. I know, I said, and we ended-up in what is probably the only pub designed by Charles Voysey, the Wentworth Arms in Elmesthorpe. Built for Lord Lovelace in 1895, it is now completely knackered as far as the Voysey Look is concerned, as all the interior rooms with green tiled fireplaces and other details were ripped out in the 1970s. We did however have very decent bangers and mash and pints of Doom Bar, so we looked more kindly at the outside which still sports a typical Voysey catslide roof in Swithland slate.


Much more to our liking was the row of cottages, also designed by CV, just over the railway bridge next door to the pub. Wortley Cottages, designed for Lovelace in the following year, are much better preserved with intact porches, rendering and big fat corner buttresses. The family in one of them were sitting down to a barbeque in the back garden so I was able to ask to trample over the lawn with ease. "I'll have mustard with mine" I said, and was met (yet again) with blank stares. But the main bloke was very kind and pointed out that they were once thatched, now replaced by superbly size-graded Swithland slates. Here's how they would've looked:



He also pointed out the Very Voysey original door hinges and superbly lettered name plaque on the far left cottage. And all this goes to show that hidden treasures can continually pop up into one's consciousness. The west side of Leicestershire is so easily written-off as ugly and not a patch on High Leicestershire to the east. This is partly the result of indiscriminate Victorian development that served the extensive hosiery industry, so that when the socks and stockings had run off left a very sad neglected feel. I hadn't been over here for some time, but I'm pleased that there is now a much brighter atmosphere. Particularly when one sees cottages like these after some Doom Bar. 

9 comments:

Ron Combo said...

We like catslide roof.

Peter Ashley said...

We do indeed Ron-Ron. And we like a good pair of hips too don't we?

Biff Raven-Hill said...

Lovely, and although it would be good to see the original thatch, the roofs have been nicely done. The 50-odd women of the Earl Shilton WI were wonderful too. Thank you so much for taking us.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Mmmm: hips, catslides, a well-made valley, a curvaceous finial: all good things to find on a roof. But that buttress, sliced by the corner of the building; and that lettering too: marvellous.

Alan Godber said...

Thank you Peter. Unmitigated education. I wasn't aware of Charles Voysey so you've prompted a bit of googling on my part; very nice. It's true what you say about unexpected treasures. Mrs G and I had a week down in Essex this May. We missed a turn for Cressing Temple and found ourselves in a tree lined avenue with late 1920s modernist houses, and then another, then a park with interesting gates and lanterns which rang a bell somewhere in my memory. Yes, Francis Crittall's model village at Silver End. All the more enjoyable because we didn't expect it.

Peter Ashley said...

This is great Alan. You're so right, the suddenly coming across something unexpected is a continuing pleasure for me. It's one of the reasons I rarely take guidebooks out in the car with me, preferring to get lost, discover things and then find out more with my feet up at home.

Stephen Barker said...

I have to confess to being biased in favour of SE Leicestershire, which is on the whole more rural and spared the scars of industry that has declined. The cottages look very good, I will have to make an effort to visit them.

Hels said...

Alan

Voysey was a fine furniture and textile designer, and a very interesting architect! What I did not know was that he designed the Wentworth Arms or any other pub, for that matter. Go Voysey!!

Thud said...

Another place to add to my ever growing list of must visit.