Simon Finch bought his first rare book aged 12 and was instantly hooked. He went on to have shops in Notting Hill, Mayfair and Holt dealing in a diverse list from Erotica to the First Folio of Shakespeare. Voewood Rare Books now handles a broad range of antiquarian material with a focus on the visual arts, the counterculture and literature.
In 1998 he bought Voewood, commissioned in the early 1900s by the Reverend Percy Lloyd whose father, Edward, a newspaper owner and leading publisher of ‘Penny Dreadfuls’, was the first to introduce the story of Sweeney Todd as a weekly serial. A cultured, buccaneering businessman, it was on his success that Voewood was built.
Designed by architect Edward Schroeder Prior, the house grew organically, a rich tapestry of flint pebbles, gravel and stone quarried from the land on which it stands. One of the great English Arts and Crafts houses, Voewood appears to obey no rules, described as ‘wild and violent’, ‘inventive and daring’, ‘raucous’, ‘an explosion’ and by Pevsner as ‘a most violently idiosyncratic house’.
When Simon bought Voewood it was a retirement institution. Several years of restoration followed, working with local builders and artists who decorated the walls with hand-painted designs. Voewood was returned to a warm family home, setting the stage for Simon’s kaleidoscopic collection of art and design. It’s a house that’s made for gathering friends.
The Voewood Socials are occasional intimate happenings in the house and gardens with live music, literary talks, good food and mini-festivals. Like all the best get-togethers Voewood Socials are playful, eclectic, lovingly planned yet deliciously open to serendipity...
The next takes place on the 25th and 26th August Bank Holiday.
Alongside the PBFA Summer Book Fair at the house, Voewood presents 6 writers in conversation. From Simon recounting his adventures in the Book Trade and restoration of Voewood to Lauren Child, the Children’s Laureate discussing film and the art of storytelling, the authors will spin tales of African fortune-hunting, two inspirational artists with an extraordinary garden, a rebellious Indian prince and the lost world of a puppet-maker at the heart of the Arts and Crafts movement. Prepare to be educated and entertained!
In the evening Voewood sways to the rhythms of the Caribbean with Tobago and d’Lime the band from the Paddington films. Blur’s Damon Albarn helped bring the band together with its street-sharp Trinidadian Calypso and a splash of French creole by way of Notting Hill - the sound of the Windrush generation. There’s a cocktail happy hour from 7pm and gourmet Caribbean BBQ - start the party early!
On Sunday 26th August, Voewood is hosting the friendliest mini music festival of the summer in support of the Holt Youth Centre. With local favourites like The SweetBeats and Chris Cooper Trio featuring George Jefford and Barbar Gough it’s also showcasing diverse emerging talent, sensual grooves, soulful melodies, haunting folk, synth pop...it’s a little bit leftfield and totally relaxed. The Social crescendos with Hot Squash playing the kind of 80s stuff only the cool kids put on their mix tapes. 11 acts for less than the price of a record. That’s better than Woolworths.
There’ll be an all day gourmet BBQ, bar, ice-creams and tea and cake. It’s all too beautiful...
For tickets and full line up go to www.voewood.com/events