Our House: Lindley home that steps back in time
Jan 5 2010 by Emma Davison, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
IT’S a home where time has virtually stood still. Briarcourt at Occupation Road, Lindley, has had several different lives in its 100-plus year history, from a first house for newlyweds to a children's home.
But everything from the untouched furnishings to the unspoilt ornate carvings still speak volumes of the young couple who originally made their home there – as well as the famous mastermind behind it.
The magnificent property was the creation of Edgar Wood, one of England’s most innovative architects.
Rochdale-born Wood made Huddersfield home to his second biggest body of work and was behind the design of some of the town’s most famous and impressive buildings, including the art nouveau Lindley Clock Tower and Edgerton’s Banney Royd.
But Briarcourt was the place where the architect first honed his skills in Huddersfield and gave him a much-needed platform to showcase his work to people in the town.
The Edgar Wood Heritage Group’s Brian Haigh explains: “It’s an important building because it did show the locals what Wood could do and many of his future commissions would have come off the back of people having seen this one.
“He had designed other buildings over the Pennines, but this was his first large-scale commission in the Huddersfield area.
“Much of his work was commissioned by the Sykes family of Lindley, who owned the textile card manufacturing business at Acre Mills.
“He was connected through his mother to the family and he was asked by John Sykes to design Briarcourt as a home for his sister Annie, who married their cousin Herbert Higginson Sykes.”
The land was acquired from Lindley Parish Church and building work on the couple’s wedding present was completed in 1896.
Says Brian: “It was a house that held a lot of meaning for its young owners.
“There’s a heart over the door and intertwining briar roses throughout the house in stained glass panels and the plaster work.
“These briar roses were part of the crafts movement finishes of the time, but also symbolic of young love and a couple starting out on a new life together.”
The style of the house is very much rooted in the locality and showed Wood’s knowledge of the traditional vernacular.
Particular attention was paid to the quality of the masonry and fittings, something which was to become one of the trademarks of the man who viewed architecture as an art.
Brian explains: “He paid a huge amount of attention to detail from all the decorative features and the detailed stonework to the nice finishes on all the doors; his style was very fluid and very recognisable with stylised motifs and doves and angels in the plaster work.
“Each room has its own unique flavour, he was also quite ahead of his time and very modern in how the house was laid out.
“He wanted to create a property that worked, not just something that looked nice and made sure everything was accessible from a central hall.”
The property is recognisably part of the revival of that time of a local Yorkshire style of Jacobean manor.
Imposing externally, with its fine porch, deep bay windows and multiple gables, it is most notable for its spectacular interior where Wood added many contemporary Arts and Crafts features to the historical style.
Striking features include the main oak staircase, decorated plaster ceilings, the inglenook fireplace in the dining room and the painted frieze in the morning room by Wood’s regular collaborator F W Jackson.