We began this article last week and explained how the arrival of the railway with a station nearly one mile away from the ancient town of Amersham led to the rapid development of Amersham-on-the-Hill.

A young architect John Harold Kennard was at the forefront of this development using the then fashionable Arts and Crafts style.

Whilst the Arts and Crafts Movement flourished in large cities such as London, Birmingham and Manchester, it endured far longer in the countryside than in the city.

Its impact on rural areas was significant and far-reaching as can be seen in Amersham today.

Many Arts and Crafts buildings in the country were designed on a modest scale, in styles reminiscent of the half-timbered cottages of Tudor England.

These domestic buildings used local materials, such as artisan produced bricks and tiles, English oak, and often featured cosy inglenook fireplaces, oak panelling and stained glass in the interior design.

Our local buildings have many of the key features of the Movement.

They are usually asymmetrical, use local building materials and craftsmanship, often feature steep roofs and echo the local vernacular such as the white render, wooden frames and Tudor gables of the Old Town, where Kennard, in particular, found plenty of inspiration.

Even the elaborate Dutch-style gables of the High Street are echoed in some of his houses in Amersham-on-the-Hill, particularly in cottages in Rickmansworth Road and South Road.

By the end of the 19th century, just as the development of Amersham-on-the-Hill was starting, creating an original home became a major preoccupation for the newly prosperous middle-classes. 

Art magazines of the day such as The Studio provided illustrated guidance and glimpses into celebrity homes to show how it was done.

That Kennard was highly regarded in his lifetime is illustrated by Ernest Gladstone Halton choosing him as the architect of his house El Ezbah on Copperkins Lane.

Halton was the assistant editor of The Studio and would have known all the fashionable architects of the time such as Edwin Lutyens and Norman Shaw.

The Movement which started through the influence of a small group of affluent artists and architects percolated down through the social classes, pioneering the concept of designer homes at a wide range of prices.

The range of Arts and Crafts houses in the Amersham area illustrate this particularly well. Woodlands Court in Chesham Bois is an example of the fashionable country retreat of this period.

It was Designed in 1914 by architect Harold Conybeare Trimnell for Gertrude Crossfield, the wealthy widow of a soap manufacturer from Warrington.

It is set in large landscaped grounds with a steep clay-tiled roof, deep eaves, leaded light windows, fine stained glass and a magnificent loggia.

This substantial house required a housekeeper, four maids, a groom, a chauffeur and seven gardeners! Kennard also created country retreats, although on a smaller scale, such as Killaspy on North Road which he built in 1911 for Thomas Alcock Cambridge Grubbe, a wealthy former British Officer.

He also designed small cottages and affordable terraced houses with artistic flourishes, individual detail and fine craftsmanship.

The Woodlands built in 1915, off Long Park and the Rickmansworth cottages built in 1910 are wonderful examples of Kennard’s smaller Arts and Crafts houses.

On September 18, Amersham Museum opened an exhibition on the Arts and Crafts buildings in Amersham with a particular emphasis on the designs and drawings of J H Kennard. Please see the website for the full Arts and Crafts Programme.