Architect: Peter Womersley

Farnley Hey, Farnley Tyas
West Yorkshire

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Farnley Hey is one of Britain’s most celebrated Modern houses. This four-bedroom home with spectacular views over the Pennines was designed by the architect Peter Womersley in 1954 as a wedding present to his brother. Maintained in remarkably original condition, it is a magnificent example of Mid-Century Modern architecture. It was one of the first post-war buildings to be listed (Grade II), with English Heritage commenting that:

“In style Farnley Hey suggests the influence of Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright, brought to a dramatic site in the Pennines. It typifies the best of the 1950s in its lightness, sense of the picturesque and optimistic stance.”

Farnley Hey is much documented in books and journals, with attention drawn to the large floor-to-ceiling windows that bring light flooding into the house as well as giving wonderful far-reaching views. Also much admired is Womersley’s exuberant use of materials – from camphorwood and York-stone flags for flooring to the lemon-yellow Formica panels. For more about the architecture of the house, see the History section.

Accommodation at Farnley Hey includes four bedrooms (one with en-suite bathrom), a large study, a kitchen / dining room and two reception rooms. One of these latter rooms is perhaps the defining room of the house – known as The Dancefloor thanks to its polished floors, inbuilt audio system and double-height ceiling, it was originally designed for Womersley’s energetic parties and even for recording live music. The room also features floor-to-ceiling double-glazed windows.

There is a short driveway and double garage at Farnley Hey. The house sits on approximately 1.2 acres of land, which is partly wooded and partly laid to lawn. The site borders open countryside and can be found within a couple of miles of the villages of Farnley Tyas and Honley.

Farnley Tyas and Honley are popular West Yorkshire villages that offer a good range of services including shops, pubs and primary schools. For a broader range of services, the town of Huddersfield is approximately ten minutes away by car, and Leeds is around 20 minutes away. There is a train station at Honley which runs services to Huddersfield and to Sheffield. Manchester can be reached directly from Huddersfield in under 35 minutes, whilst journeys to London (via Wakefield) take under three hours.

Please note that all areas, measurements and distances given in these particulars are approximate and rounded. The text, photographs and floor plans are for general guidance only. The Modern House has not tested any services, appliances or specific fittings — prospective purchasers are advised to inspect the property themselves. All fixtures, fittings and furniture not specifically itemised within these particulars are deemed removable by the vendor.


History

Peter Womersley (1923 – 93) was one of Britain’s most celebrated Modernist architects. As well as Farnley Hey, many more of the buildings he designed during the latter half of the 20th century are listed. Womersley studied at the Architectural Association in London before moving to the Scottish borders, where he lived and worked for the rest of his life.

Written comments about Farnley Hey:

“Farnley Hey is Britain’s best-known example of the American ‘contemporary style’, mixing traditional… walls and floors with vast picture windows, and natural wood with fashionable modern materials such as Formica and opaque glass. It is the principal English work by Peter Womersley… Remarkably, most of Womersley’s original fixtures and internal finishes survive.

“…The double-height living room, daringly cantilevered mezzanine gallery
and ‘zoned’ accommodation wings are an early demonstration of the
exciting possibilities of free planning. Fittings include original silk lampshades and special hi-fi units…

“In style Farnley Hey suggests the influence of Le Corbusier’s Pavilion Suisse, and of Frank Lloyd Wright’s free planning and use of materials, brought to a dramatic site in the Pennines. It also typifies the best of 1950s in its lightness, sense of the picturesque and optimistic stance.” Elain Harwood, English Heritage, 2000

“The house is a striking example of a style of architecture more often associated with California… inside as well as out, it’s been maintained in the same spirit of modernism as when it was built…

“…At the time [it was built], the flat-roofed wood and stone exterior with its floor-to-ceiling picture window proved a radical departure, and the creation of open-plan spaces in favour of distinct rooms meant a new kind of living experience…

“…There’s a tremendous impression of space about the house… It’s the windows that form Farnley Hey’s most striking feature… they allow uninterrupted views over the wooded gardens and Pennine countryside beyond.” Simon Beckett, The Observer, 2004

“Like the foyers of the Royal Festival Hall, Farnley Hey is designed to create a feeling of openness, with large windows overlooking a spectacular view…

“…As one of the earliest of the larger post-war Modernist houses, it was widely illustrated and epitomised the changes in modern domestic architecture after the war.” Alan Powers, Twentieth Century Houses in Britain: From the Archives of Country Life, 2004


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