The Arts and Crafts Movement was the term used to describe the trend in decorative and fine arts which was developed firstly in England but became popular across Europe and America between 1880 and 1920. It later strongly influenced the Art Nouveau movement in the 1920s.

The term Arts and Crafts was first used by T J Cobden- Sanderson at an art and craft exhibition in 1887 and it was inspired by designs by Thomas Carlyle, John Ruskin and William Morris in England and Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Scotland. It is probably William Morris (1834 – 1896) the textile designer who became its most famous exponent when he commercially developed not only textiles but carpets, embroideries, tapestries, tiles and book designs. He opened a shop in Oxford Street, London in 1877 which sold all his designs that had been manufactured at his own Merton Abbey Mill in South London. He lived with his wife at the house he had designed himself, in Kent, called The Red House. His designs are still in use today in various forms.

The movement even found its way into house designs and Exmouth is fortunate in having a fine example of an 'Arts and Crafts' house on Foxholes Hill, firstly called The Barn but now known as The Beach House. It was designed by the architect Edward Schroeder for his client Major Henry Wetherall who he had been at Harrow School with and it was completed in 1896. The photo from 1897 shows the house in all its glory.

It was built with the floor plan in a 'butterfly' design. It had two wings with a central entrance and hallway and was south facing at the back with a verandah and beautiful garden. The east wing comprised the dining room which faced the garden. Here too was the kitchen and servants quarters. The west wing comprised the drawing room, study and staircase. There was a gallery over the hall which connected the bedrooms and there were stairs to the attic rooms, which were designed as nurseries. The house was built with brick cavity walls and some had pebbles from the beach embedded in the concrete. It had concrete floors and the walls were curved. The garden had walls about nine foot high This was all topped off with magnificent chimneys and a thatched roof and provided a very handsome house for its new owner Major Henry Wetherell. Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, the renowned architectural historian described the house as 'a brilliant exercise in Art Nouveau domestic design'. Herman Muthesius in his book The English House of 1904-05 so enthused about it that he adopted the plan for his own house in Berlin in 1907.

In October 1906 the house was devastated by fire and the internal balcony and floors were lost together with many of its internal features. Following the fire, the Bristol firm of Jacob Williams restored the house. The house was fitted with a slate roof to both the wings and a central gabled roof also in slate. The wings in the front entrance were altered to enlarge them and square them with the walls. The chimneys on each wing received terracotta flues and were cased in sandstone.

On 6 November 1972 it received its Grade 2* Listing. It later ceased to be a private house and became The Barn Hotel until 2016 when it became a large ten bedroom holiday let known as The Beach House, complete with unusually shaped outdoor swimming pool. Exmouth is indeed most fortunate in having such a fine example of an Arts and Crafts house that having survived a dreadful fire still stands today in its prominent position at Foxholes.

You can find out more about Exmouth Museum at the museum’s website or you can email me at