House and History

You can find more detailed information about the history of Broad Leys and images from our archive collections on our heritage website ''

Charles FA Voysey was born in Yorkshire in 1857. He first studied with J P Seddon until 1874 and later with George Devey for a year. Voysey's early work was as a designer of wallpapers, fabrics and furnishings, but he made his name as an Arts and Crafts architect designing a number of outstanding country houses. These typically exhibit white rough rendered walls with horizontal ribbon windows and large pitched roofs and are recognised as his distinctive style by their simplicity and originality.

Broad Leys was built in 1899 for Arthur Currer Briggs, a Victorian Industrialist from Wakefield and his wife Helen. It's a superb example of Voysey's design and lies just south of Bowness on Windermere in the English Lake District.  According to Pevsner it is his masterpiece with extensive front terraced gardens and three distinct large curved bay windows, stretching from the ground up to the first floor, providing magnificent views over the lake. The family stayed there most summers and often invited Beatrix Potter and her father Rupert to stay with them. He was an enthusiastic photographer and took some wonderful photographs of the interior of the house in it's Victorian heyday which can be seen in the book "The creation, life & times of an Arts & Crafts House".
Following the death of her husband, Helen allowed Broad Leys to be used as an auxiliary hospital for recovering officers during the First World War. At the end of the war it was sold twice before being purchased by a group of enthusiastic power boat racers, thus establishing it as the headquarters for the Windermere Motor Boat Racing Club in 1952. 

Voysey's fame was a result of his total disregard of contemporary design at the time. He drew away from the ornate and intricate look that so many architects and designers favoured during Victorian times. He used straight lines, gentle curves and open spaces. He took something of a minimalist approach and held firm in the belief that less is more, an attitude we often come across today. The hall is a true reflection of his desire for open space.

As if that isn't enough, barely ten minutes away from Broad Leys is Blackwell, a superb example of Arts and Crafts movement architecture by H. Baillie Scott. It has been restored and is open to the public.  

Broad Leys Country House Photo Gallery
Broad Leys Book