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Archival material relating to C.F.A. Voysey at the RIBA and the V&A

The largest collections of original archival material relating to Charles Francis Annesley Voysey are held by the British Architectural Library of the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A). Most of the two collections are housed at the Museum in Cromwell Road, London.

In 1913, Voysey himself gave a selection of his designs to the V&A. The bulk of the RIBA’s holdings were deposited with the Institute in 1941 by his son, Charles Cowles-Voysey, and he transferred ownership of them to the RIBA shortly before his death in 1980. This acquisition, principally drawings, includes some 800 designs covering the entire range of his output, including houses, furniture, fabrics and wallpapers, metalwork, tiles and needlework. The drawings are held in the RIBA Drawings Collection, which also holds some other Voysey material, including press cuttings, proof prints for published illustrations and photographs of Voysey’s work. A collection of photographs was also acquired from Cowles-Voysey in 1941, and these are now held in the RIBA Photographs Collection.

In 2001 additional items were acquired via the executrix of the estate of Charles Cowles-Voysey.

Further material, formerly in the possession of John Brandon-Jones, an associate of Cowles-Voysey, was acquired by the RIBA in 2014 under the Acceptance in Lieu scheme and awaits cataloguing.

Most of the RIBA's drawings are described in Catalogue of the drawings collection of the Royal Institute of British Architects : CFA Voysey, by Joanna Symonds (Gregg, 1976). The bulk of the archival material is listed in typescript form as C.F.A. Voysey archive : a descriptive list, compiled by Eleanor Gawne (British Architectural Library, 2001). Both catalogues include reference to other personal material.

At the time of Symonds' work, there were 88 designs for buildings at the RIBA, 208 designs for textiles and wallpapers, 260 designs for furniture, 206 graphic designs, and 8 designs for extensive alterations to existing buildings. Only nine buildings were not represented, and these were: The Cottage, Bishop's Itchington; the final design for the Forster house, Bedford Park; the Wentworth Arms Inn, Elmesthorpe; the Pavilion at Oldbury Park, Birmingham; The Orchard, Chorleywood; Priors Garth, near Puttenham; Tilehurst, Bushey; White Cottage, Wandsworth; and the final design for the bungalow at Barnham Junction, Sussex. According to David Cole (The art and architecture of C.F.A. Voysey : English pioneer modernist architect and designer (Images, 2015)), the perspectives were rarely by Voysey's hand (unlike his other drawings). They were developed in collaboration with Howard Gaye.

The Gawne list

The full text of the Gawne list is available for consultation (PDF, 1.2MB).

The reference used for all the material is VoC. The Gawne list presents the collection in the following series (although the RIBA online catalogue does not necessarily follow this arrangement):

  • Series 1: business records, including two registers of work (the Black Book and the White Book), an address book and a professional expenses book (1890-1940);
  • Series 2: correspondence & personal papers, including wills and birth certificates (1856-1997);
  • Series 3: press-cuttings, including newspaper and journal cuttings reporting on Voysey’s life and times (1893-1970);
  • Series 4: inspirational items, source material used for design work (1825-1923);
  • Series 5: personal memorabilia, including his signet ring, briefcase and umbrella (c.1900-1938);
  • Series 6: prints (1884-1927);
  • Series 7: books in the possession of Voysey at the time of his death: see full list of the books (1886-1934);
  • Series 8: photographs (c.1859-1928).

The Eleanor Gawne list is © copyright 2001 British Architectural Library, Royal Institute of British Architects and we are grateful for the Library's permission to include it here.

Page last amended 26th August 2021