By Christine Verguson

While many people in Huddersfield and beyond will be familiar with Lindley’s Art Nouveau clock tower designed by Manchester architect Edgar Wood, they may not be aware of the significance of the first building he designed in the district.

At Briarcourt in Lindley, with the help of skilled artists and craftsmen, Wood created what can only be a described as a work of art.

But Briarcourt has also had a fascinating history – starting its life as a family home then and again today, for many years it was put to institutional use for vulnerable children, older people and young people with special needs.

Now, with the support of the present owners, The Edgar Wood Heritage Group (Yorkshire) has produced a book which celebrates both the art and architecture of the house while touching on the lives of past residents.

Briarcourt’s remarkable story started in 1894 with the purchase of land adjoining St Stephen’s Vicarage in Occupation Road, Lindley, by John Sykes, head of card clothing manufacturer Joseph Sykes and Brothers.

John invited his architect cousin Edgar Wood (1860-1935) to design a house as a wedding present for his son Herbert Higginson Sykes and his wife Annie Eliza and this was reflected in Wood’s design.

A heart can be seen above the front door and other symbols of love are used throughout the house, including the Briar Rose.

But Wood did not just design the house but supervised every aspect of its decoration and worked with skilled craftsmen, both from Huddersfield and further afield, to help him realise his vision.

A home once again, Briarcourt is being lovingly restored by current owners Vicky House and Duncan Morgan.

Vicky said: “When Dunc and I moved to Briarcourt nearly eight years ago, we had no inkling of how well-loved this building is within the local community; and what a rich history she holds.

“To be honest, we really knew very little about Edgar Wood and his amazing talents either. We just fell in love with Briarcourt and knew we wanted to try our best to bring her a new lease of life after decades of institutional service and several years of lying empty had left their scars.”

For Vicky the publication of the book has been a very special moment. She added: “Slowly helping the building reclaim a little more of her original Arts and Crafts spirit is an absolute privilege; but the gift of developing such an intimate sense of the people who have lived and worked here over the last 125 years is beyond anything we could have ever imagined.

“We are so grateful to the Edgar Wood Heritage Group, the Edgar Wood Society, and all those who have shared something of their personal relationship with this place.

“This book stands as a testament to their generosity of spirit, passion for Edgar Wood and commitment to keeping our local heritage alive.”

This new publication is lavishly illustrated, with both historic and contemporary illustrations and also includes a detailed tour of the house.

Briarcourt – The Story of a House with a Heart (ISBN 978-0-9929841-4-4, 72 pages, £10) is published by Huddersfield Local History Society for the Edgar Wood Heritage Group (Yorkshire).

The book can be purchased by post from the address below, or online through the Huddersfield Local History Society website at £10 plus £2.25 p&p (cheques to be made payable to Edgar Wood Heritage Group) and is also available at local bookshops.

Edgar Wood Heritage Group (Yorkshire), c/o 24 Sunnybank Road, Huddersfield, HD3 3DE.