Farnley Hey, Farnley Tyas, West Yorkshire

One of Britain's most outstanding modern houses

Farnley Hey, Architectural Press Archive / RIBA Library Photographs Collection
Farnley Hey, Architectural Press Archive / RIBA Library Photographs Collection · Credit: R. H. de Burgh Galwey

When photographs of Farnley Hey first appeared in the specialised press, between 1955 and 1956, they instantly revealed the originality of its design. Built at the edge of a drop into a thickly wooded valley in Yorkshire, this small house by Peter Womersley is considered one of Britain’s most outstanding mid-century modern houses. When it was listed in 1998, English Heritage described it as one of the best demonstrations of the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright in the country. The interior revolves around a large double-height living area, with no internal partitions separating the various ‘rooms’. They are instead defined by changes of level, and elements such as columns, sideboards and music units, as well as different lighting and surface textures. The illusion of spaciousness created by the adoption of the open plan is further enhanced by the use of extensive glazing, which allows spectacular views over the Pennines, as do the outdoor porches and terraces. This photograph successfully conveys the character of the interior space, especially in its relationship with the exterior.