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The Batsford Gallery exhibition of October 1931

Note by transcriber: This was the key exhibition that helped to re-establish Voysey’s reputation in later life. John Betjeman was its instigator. The catalogue itself is very short and contains no images. It was written by Voysey.

Catalogue of an exhibition of the works of C. F. Annesley Voysey F.R.I.B.A., at the Batsford Gallery 15 North Audley Street, London W.1, October 12th to 17th, 1931

The cover of the catalogue shows printed dates of 12th to 17th October for the exhibition but (on the copy from which this transcription is taken) 12 has been altered manually to 2. An article in the Architectural Review confirms that the exhibition was held from the 2nd to the 17th. Either the catalogue was printed with an erroneous start date or the exhibition dates were extended after the catalogue had been printed.


By Sir Edwin Lutyens RA

Two surprising events in the 'eighties of the last century, relative to my early architectural observations, were firstly the advent of Randolph Caldecott, who formed a new simplicity of expression in the buildings he so wittily portrayed, and secondly the work of Charles Voysey, who was building – it was evident – what he liked.

Fresh and serene, he created that with which you could laugh – a very different thing from much of the moribund building then prevailing which one laughed at – or was it so long ago as it seems that we really cried? The "hearted" shutters, the client's profile as a bracket, the absence of accepted forms, the long, sloping, slate-clad roofs, the green frames, the black base and the black chimney-pots, with the white walls clear and clean! No detail was too small for Voysey’s volatile brain, and it was not so much his originality, though original he was, as his consistency which proved a source of such delight. Simple, old-world forms, moulded to his own passion, as if an old testament had been rewrit in vivid print, bringing to light a renewed vision in turning of its pages; an old world made new, and with it, to younger men of whom I was one, the promise of a new, exhilarating sphere of invention. This was Voysey’s achievement.

Fashions, as they ever have and ever will do, come and go. ... Hail! then to those men amongst whom Voysey stands, who give new kindling to the old flame to warm and cheer conviction in a living future.


I began life by crying, and then took to drink. Now look at the result! The objects being too numerous to number, a short description is given of each wall to point out their purpose where it is not obvious. The order on the walls is from left to right, commencing with "A", then to "B", "C", "D", "E", and "F" at the top of the stairs. With the exception of 17 perspectives, all the drawings were made by me; and every exhibit in the gallery I have designed myself.


Wall "A"

Perspective drawings of houses created by myself, and exhibited at different times at the Royal Academy. Of these, fifteen were drawn by Howard Gaye, FRIBA, the remaining five being my own drawings. Among these latter are the long row of artisans’ cottages and Institute for Messrs. Briggs & Son at Whitwood, Normanton, Yorkshire, and the perspective drawing on its right of the house at Stoke Poges. The three long monochrome drawings at the top of the wall, including my design for the Government Buildings at Ottawa, are also my own work.

The houses shown in perspective were mostly built between the years 1895 and 1914.

Wall "B"

The large pictorial designs "Love and the Pilgrim", "Laborate et Amate", "Use and Beauty", "What makes your admiration ...", "A ship was sailing on the sea", "’Tis Love, ’tis Love that makes the World go round", "There’s no Place like Home". "Filial Affection", "Music", "The Tigress", and the sheet of "Birds of many Climes" were made during the war for the Central Control Board, Liquor Traffic, to decorate the canteens and public-houses under its supervision. These were traced, printed by sun process, and hand coloured in order to be quickly multiplied. The entire work of colouring was done by myself.

The majority of the remaining designs were made either for wall-papers or printed fabrics, with a few exceptions such as the sheet of birds conventionally treated, on the left, which is intended for the use of embroidresses, and the ¼-scale design for a carpet, on the right, represented Adam and Eve. By the side of the latter, on the extreme right, I have stolen the exquisite drawings by Tenniel from Alice in Wonderland to meet the request of manufacturers for patterns of good drawing containing subject matter. To the left of "Adam and Eve" is an "Angelic Wood", which, like "Alice", is intended for printed fabric; and above this is "The House that Jack built".

Above this again is a row of three designs for embroidery. The design of squirrel and birds is intended for a wall-paper, and should be reproduced with twelve inches of plain ground between each vertical column of decoration. On the left of the door is a gilt relief angel, which was designed and drawn full size by me, and modified by T. and E. Nicholls; below this is a design made out of heraldic symbols, and the original design for the "River" mat displayed on the floor of the gallery.

Wall "C"

This wall is entirely covered by designs for houses created between the years 1857 and 1931. All are scale drawings, and since they were made with the purpose of showing clients what was proposed, the less said the better.

Wall "D"

The ten heraldic stained-glass panels that run along the top of this wall were made for the Essex and Suffolk Insurance Society’s building in the City, of which photographs will be found on Wall "E", showing them in position. The Royal Arms below was designed for over the main entrance of Atkinson’s scent shop in Bond Street, now destroyed, of which the two elevations are shown over the door leading into the gallery. Below the Arms is the badge of the Insurance Company mentioned above, and below that again a design for a wall-paper commemorating the Diamond Jubilee. The stormy petrel sign was intended for a petrol store.

In the bottom right-hand corner is the design used by The Studio for the binding of its first volume. The "Lion and the Unicorn" is a blue print of a design for brocade, being pattern on pattern without any background. In the left-hand corner is a bronze medallion modelled by the poor creature it is supposed to represent. The bronze hinges nearby were made from my design by Messrs. Thomas Elsley & Co, as were also the grate, fender, fire-irons, hot- plate and dogs that are placed against this wall. The brass casting is remarkable for its unusual delicacy of workmanship. The fire-screen by the well-hole of the gallery was made by the same firm from my details.

Wall "E"

In the top left-hand corner is a photograph of "The Orchard", Chorley Wood, built by myself and once my home. Next to it is a small collection of book- plates, with one badge. Then come perspectives and plan of a house near Bath, drawn by Howard Gaye, following which is a working drawing of a war memorial for the Yorkshire Light Infantry in York Minster. The next drawing of the Malvern Wells War Memorial is by my son, Charles Cowles-Voysey, while to the left of the entrance is a drawing of Bognor (before it was "Regis"), to show the position of the owner’s cocktail bar, together with his book-plate which was designed and drawn by me. Over the entrance is a scale drawing of Atkinson’s scent shop, now no more; and in the entrance is a woven bell-pull which can be supplied by Messrs. F. Muntzer of 25 Dover Street; a calendar for 1931; and the working drawing for the work-box which stands in the gallery.

The photographs form a record of my work from a date in the mid-eighties (I am unable to recollect the exact year), when the earliest of the houses shown was built.

Wall "F"

All these designs may be printed on paper or fabric, or even made up for wearing, with the exception of a design for a banner fire-screen in embroidery appliqué which is shown in the centre of the bottom row.

On the table

The oak bracket clock-case is made for a pendulum clock, and is inlaid with ebony and ivory. It has a door in front for regulating the works. On one side of it is an inlaid work-box, the working drawing of which is shown in the entrance, and on the other an inlaid string box. The brass spirit kettle is so designed that one cupful of spirit without a wick will boil a kettle full of cold water. The brass pen tray can be made by children, as it needs no solder, and can be cut out of one sheet of metal.


The medallion to represent London on the small table facing the entrance was modelled from my drawing by ------- Godwin, the son of E.W.Godwin, F.R.I.B.A. The letter-weight on the shelf on Wall "E" was intended as its designer’s cast-out devil. The bronze of a man writing was for the staircase newel-post of an author’s house. The small oak mushroom finial was also designed for a newel-post.

The board below this shelf shows bronze hinges, knobs and other fittings which were all specially made from my full-size details by Messrs. Bainbridge Reynolds.

The small-scale bronze pelican on the shelf on Wall "C" was modelled by me for the Malvern Wells War Memorial, a drawing of which is shown on Wall "E". The fabrics on Wall "C" may be obtained from Messrs. F. Muntzer of 25 Dover Street, W.1.

Some of the furniture designed by me which is placed about the gallery may be seen in its original position in the photographs of interiors on Wall "E".


I wish to record my deep gratitude to the following kind friends who have lent objects for the exhibition: Mr. and Mrs. E.J. Horniman, Mr. and Mrs. P.A. Barendt, Mr. W. Bainbridge Reynolds, Messrs. Elsley, Messrs. F. Muntzer & Son, and Mr. C. Cowles-Voysey. The greatest credit and the warmest thanks are due to Mr. Fry and Mr. Cook of Batsford’s, and to Mr Betjeman of The Architectural Review, for their devoted attention, energy and skill in arranging this exhibition, which entailed very great difficulty owing to the heterogeneous mass of objects.

Page last amended 15th June 2016