Charles Cowles-Voysey

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Charles Cowles-Voysey (24 June 1889 – 10 April 1981) was an English architect.

Charles Voysey studied at the Architectural Association School and the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture. Between 1909 and 1912 he was articled to Horace Field and assistant to John James Burnet and to Horace Farquharson, before starting his own practice in 1912.[1] John Brandon-Jones worked for Cowles-Voysey, became a partner in the business and finally took over the firm.[2]

Voysey's father, the Arts and Crafts movement architect and designer C.F.A. Voysey (1857-1941), was one of the first architects to use concrete unadorned, rather than disguised as a traditional building material.

Marriage, Change of Surname and Wife’s Family[edit]

In 1912, Charles married Dorothea Denise Cowles (1885-1980) and amended his surname to Cowles-Voysey. Dorothea was great-great-granddaughter of George Cowles (1737-1811) a Gloucester-born, London-based Georgian goldsmith of repute, who already in the 1760s produced items in the simpler lines of the coming new classical style, moving away from baroque and rococo. George married the niece of his former Master Samuel Courtauld, Judith Jacob (1741-1775), so Dorothea Cowles was also descended from two further Georgian goldsmiths: George Cowles’ father-in-law Jean/John Jacob (1709-1787), and Jean Jacob’s father-in-law Augustin Courtauld (1686-1751), both Huguenot goldsmiths based in Westminster. Nearer the present, Dorothea was the younger daughter of Denis Jacob Cowles (1854-1941), who had won a scholarship to St John’s College, Oxford, rowed for Oxford in the Boat Races of 1877 (declared dead heat) and 1878 (Oxford won), and by the time of Dorothea’s marriage, was a Suffolk Magistrate, twice Chairman of the local Urban Council, and Principal of Manor House School in Felixstowe, which specialised in pupils for the Army Examinations. Denis Jacob Cowles’ Huguenot ancestry was the source of the continuing French spelling down the generations of his name Denis with one ‘n’ and of his daughter Dorothea’s middle name of Denise. Charles and Dorothea had no children.

Kingsley Hall[edit]

In 1927 Cowles-Voysey was asked to design Kingsley Hall which included a main hall also used for worship, and five rooftop cells for community volunteers. The style of the father passed to the son in the design of Children's House and Kingsley Hall. This came after many hours soulful discussions with Muriel Lester about how to bring the very best to the poor of the East End. Indeed, Kingsley Hall was built to bring Heaven to Earth and originally had six small monastic type cells on the top floor where volunteers would stay and dedicate their days to community work. Both buildings use employed a large amount of concrete, which is openly on display.

Other Architectural Works[edit]


  1. ^ The Times, obituary 15th April 1981
  2. ^