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Moor Crag, Gillhead, Cumbria

Date: 1898

Client: J.W. Buckley

Listing: Grade I (main house)

Moor Crag

The entry in Pevsner's Cumbria (with Matthew Hyde, 2010) reads:

MOOR CRAG, a little s of Broadleys, and on the other side of the road. By CFA Voysey, 1899-1900, for JW Buckley of Altrincham near Manchester, where he had a house called Westwood.

The quintessence of the Lake District, despite the fact that Voysey had one style wherever he built, and of the vernacular, even though it copies no local precedent. Muthesius's admiration was echoed by Pevsner in 1969, who said of Moor Crag and Broadleys that 'there is nothing of the date on the Continent to come up to their standard. The future and the past blend effortlessly indeed. They are C20 pioneer work and yet free Tudor'. Yet the sweet simplicity of the house, and its absolute rightness in the landscape, were not arrived at without effort. Moor Crag was on the drawing board in 1898 but it was more than a year before the design was finalised, and the catslide roof sweeping down at the lake end was the result of changing its position (like Blackwell it is end-on to the lake with long N & S sides). The great swept roof is the thing, punctuated by dormers and gables on both main sides, without formal correspondences, and set off by the massive verticals of the chimneys, and the long horizontals of the eaves and dripmoulds. There is no service wing to disturb the perfect 'house that Jack built'; services were accommodated in an existing building down the garden path. The window dressings and mullions, absolutely flush and unmoulded, the steps and the floors of Buttermere slate, of a most beautiful blue; a different palette to Broadleys and Blackwell. The three upper cross-windows on the entrance side represent the staircase landings. (Staircase again with close vertical slats). Voysey took double care to ventilate the house when empty, with tiny opening lights in each window, and an extra chimney flue connecting to all the little air vents: typical of the extreme thought lavished on what was, after all, only a holiday home.

Thomas Mawson did the site survey and blasted out the romantic drive.

Photograph by John Trotter.

Page last amended 2nd August 2021