Arts and Crafts Style

One of the key design and architecture styles of the 19th and early 20th centuries came from the Arts and Crafts Movement. Formally beginning in 1867, this style paralleled the Aesthetic Movement and the Queen Anne revival. It was a style of architecture and decor encouraged by William Morris, which focused on hand-crafted, anti-industrial processes, pruned of unnecessary decoration.

Wightwick Manor

Wightwick Manor

The style was not adopted comprehensively; for example furniture was too idiosyncratic and massive and so not suitable for smaller houses. It was too severe and not comfortable enough. Later variants of the Morris style, particular in wallpaper and fabric, were more popular.

Typical features are:

  • white, roughcast render
  • everything being exposed to explain the construction such as wooden pegs in beams, and bare stone and brick
  • pebble dash
  • stone dressed window and door openings
  • low rooflines
  • asymmetric

It showed mediaeval influences, particularly in grander houses but was then bastardised in smaller homes.

The Read House, Bexleyheath, Kent

The Red House

The look and feel of Arts and Crafts interiors was created by William Morris. In 1861, he founded ‘Morris and Company’ which made textiles, carpets, wallpapers and furniture. It set the highest standards of craftsmanship, and employed traditional materials and methods where possible. See also typical Arts and Crafts colours.

The Arts and Crafts style has two strands; the cottagey look begun by Morris and Webb and evolved by Voysey, and midway through its evolution, the starker, more modernist feel of Mackintosh and the later Lutyens. In parallel with this was the inevitable theft of ideas and influences by small-scale builders. So, for example we see the patterns of porches and doors migrating into the informally designed houses. Both strands persisted through the 1920s and into the 1930s.

Some of the best known architects who created, evolved and drew on the Arts and Crafts movement are:

      Examples of their work

Devey, George


He came before the Arts and Crafts movement proper. He taught Voysey.

Betteshanger (remodelled 1856-1882)

Nesfield, William Eden


A Queen Anne designer, he shared a studio with Norman Shaw although they worked separately.

Kinmel Park, Denbighshire (1866-1874)

Shaw, Richard Norman



Leyswood, Sussex (1866-1871), Cragside (1870-1890)

Webb, Philip Speakman


Early on he used Gothic styles, and later Queen Anne influences.

Red House (1859-1860), Smeaton Manor (1877-1879), Standen (1892-1894)

Mackintosh, Charles Rennie


By philosophy, an Arts and Crafts architect, he was the primary exponent of Art Nouveau in Scotland

The Hill House, Helensburgh

Scotland Street School, Glasgow

Queen's Cross Church, Maryhill, Glasgow

House for an Art Lover, Bellahouston Park, Glasgow

Windy Hill,Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire

78 Derngate, Northampton

Glasgow Art School

Voysey, Charles Francis Annesley


He built smaller houses than the other architects here and created the cottage look that would last into the 1930s.

The Cottage, Warwickshire (1888), Broadleys, Windermere (1898)

Lutyens, Edwin


An architect who initially created Arts and Crafts cottagey styles, later from mediaeval patterns and then followed Classical rules for his major Edwardian public buildings.

Munstead Wood, Godalming (1896), Tigbourne Court, Surrey (1899)

Scott, Mackay Hugh Baillie


An Arts and Crafts architect specialising in domestic buildings and following the ideas of Voysey.

White Lodge, Wantage (1898-1899), White House, Helensburgh (1899-1900), Undershaw, Guildford (1908-1909)

In trying to understand and differentiate between the Arts and Crafts movement and the contemporary Aesthetic and Queen Anne styles, it is hard to unravel clear differences and to categorise the key designers. Inevitably they influenced each other. For example, does one include Mackintosh with the other Arts and Crafts architects, or with the Art Nouveau movement? His philosophy was rooted in the Arts and Crafts movement but he used and inspired the vocabulary of Art Noveau designs.