Voewood House report & photos

On Wednesday 10 April 18 members of the art appreciation group assembled at Voewood house which is situated at High Kelling near Holt. Reputed to be one of the finest art and craft houses in Britain we were eager to see it.

We were at once interested in the appearance of the building. The facing is highly decorated mainly of flint cobbles arranged in patterns with carstone and red tiles set edge on to make the shapes of diamonds chevrons and feathering. We later discovered that the front of the building facing the garden is even more decorated.

We were soon ushered into the house up stone steps by our guide Andrew Taylor. He explained that he works for the owner Simon Finch running guided tours.

He then explained the history of the house. It was built in 1903-5 for the Rev Percy Lloyd who had inherited money from his father. The architect was Edward Prior who in the arts and crafts tradition used local materials and builders. They first dug out the sunken garden and used the sand ,gravel and flint this excavated to construct the house.

The house is built of concrete and is laid out to a butterfly shape with a central block and two offset wings. This plan results in unusual shapes for all the rooms and a sheltered terrace outside.

Andrew took us round all the rooms downstairs. The music room was decorated with many items from Africa. The billiard room with dark red wall seemed very masculine. In the main body of the house was an impressive hall reaching up through two stories resembling a medieval hall. It had a huge inglenook fireplace .
As the house is often rented out for weddings Andrew said that several couples have been married in that fireplace.

The large dining room is remarkable for a copy of Leonardo’s Last Supper which fills one wall, and the beautiful hand made curtains with appliqués of butterflies , a work of art in themselves.

Sadly the first owners of the house never really lived there as a TB hospital was built next door and Mrs Lloyd was afraid of infection. It has since had a chequered history as a boys prep school, convalescent home, war time hospital and old people’s home until purchased by the present owner and restored to more or less the original layout.

We were then at liberty to roam throughout the building . There are twisty wooden stairs up to 18 bedrooms and every one of them was different with quirky and interesting furniture and fittings and unusual shapes. We could have spent longer looking at all the items.

We also visited the gardens, enclosed by flint walls and laid out in formal shapes. Finishing with coffee and biscuits in the dining room.

A very interesting and enjoyable outing and many thanks to Jill for arranging it.

Marian Rowe

Click on a picture below to see it full-size with more details.