Arts and Crafts architecture is a romantic style of architecture that celebrates the handmade and bespoke. It uses materials and finishes to create a rustic effect and it breaks away from the formal symmetry of classically influenced compositions. There are good examples of rural houses but right here at the heart of things there is a wealth of amazing buildings using the style and technique of this artistic movement. Like this one on Oxford Road. We can see the waney edge oak boarding, brick and timber base with blackened oak timbers and render to the first floor. Leaded windows and low eaves with lots of roof above add to the cottage effect. It brings an anti industrial rural style into a suburban setting, in terms of materials but also in terms of spatial arrangement.
For a little mental contrast think of a towny type building with a formal street frontage and a symmetrical composition. Such buildings present an arrangement of the facade that shows regularity and often use cut stone mouldings to show prestige and dignity. Arts and crafts goes against all of that with big gables breaking out all over, porches, set backs, dropped roofs projecting features and special windows, often revealing, or at least telling a story about, the internal arrangement of rooms such as the hall and stairs.
I didn’t have the privilege of seeing inside this one except in my own imagination. Into the shelter of the porch after a long trek across the wild moorlands of Moseley and after knocking the great knocker on the heavy oak door, I was admitted to the oak panelled hallway. As my eyes adjusted to the coloured light filtering through the stained glass windows, through a half open panelled door I saw the light shining from the great fireplace in the hall, where, dressed in his smoking jacket and Turkish slippers stood mr Witchington reading a letter with the dark look of conspiracy in his eyes.