Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Standen, East Grinstead - An Arts and Crafts Gem

It is a long time since we visited Standen, so when I saw an 'Amazon Deal' to stay at a hotel not too far away, it seemed an ideal opportunity to pay a return visit for H's birthday 
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Last time we visited was when our sons were still at school. We had recently purchased an Arts and Crafts vase by the Della Robbia Pottery, Birkenhead at an Antique Fair.  The pottery which was established in 1894 was inspired and named after the work of the Florentine Renaissance sculptor, Luca della Robbia. 
I recall our sons walking into the Morning room ahead of us at Standen, and exclaiming to one another about all the Della Robbia Pottery to be found in the room. 
The lady attendant was very surprised, and looked at her file of notes to check whether they were correct or not. When we entered the room she made a point of telling us how very impressed she was with their knowledge. Like Luca's work, the pottery used a small and unique colour pallet, which if you know it, and our sons did, is instantly recognisable. 
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The pottery closed in 1906, and now all of their pieces are very collectible. Every pot is totally unique having traceable initials inscribed by the potter on the base. A book came out recently which puts names to the initials, along with some lovely old black and white photos showing the potters assembled together, and a short resume of their lives. 
Standen was the rural retreat of James and Margaret Beale, designed for them by Philip Webb. Webb also designed William Morris's home in south London, The Red House, Bexleyheath. Standen is recognised as one of the finest examples of Arts and Crafts workmanship. Of particular interest to us are the Wm Morris interiors accompanied by lots of interesting artefacts from his close associates which create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The house was in the process of being dressed ready for the Christmas season. Cameras without flash were allowed, but the National Trust purposefully keep the light levels very low to protect the fabrics. I apologise for the quality of my photos which give an inferior indication of the inside.
A square-cased piano co-designed by Baillie Scott, Arts & Craft Architect whose style was reminiscent of Voysey and C.R. Ashbee - Ashbee was the designer who set up the Guild of Handicraft which moved from London to Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds. He is more usually associated with silver bowls, chalices etc and jewellery 
A marble head of Margaret Beale when she was 84 by F.W. Sargent who was related by marriage to the Beale family
 'Fruit' was one of the earliest Wm Morris wall paper designs, previously known as Pomegranate produced in 1864
A cabinet by C.R. Ashbee 
The conservatory was devoid of many plants. Apparently both the warm temperatures during the summer months and several little creatures had caused some infestations on them 
In the Drawing room is a glorious hand-knotted wool carpet designed by J.H. Dearle for Morris & Company
 The mild steel fireplace in the Dining room with repoussé decoration designed by Philip Webb and made by John Pearson of the Guild of Handicraft
A Claret jug with silver mounts designed by Christopher Dresser (1834-1904). Christopher was regarded as the 'father of industrial design'. His simplicity of execution and boldness of design made him far ahead of his time. He was greatly influenced by Japan having spent 4 months travelling there. The profile of the handle on this Claret jug shows a Japanese influence

Chair backs covered in Wm Morris fabric 'two dragons'
Convex mirror - Repoussé copper frame designed by C.R. Ashbee and John Pearson featuring peacock motif and the motto 'O wad some power the giftie gi'e us to see ourselves as others see us'
Some of the Della Robbia pottery in the Morning room of which there must be about 12 pots
A painting on the landing 'The Baptism of King Edwin' by Ford Madox Brown
Next time will be a return to Turkey

48 comments:

  1. What an incredible house!! I have never been, but hope to visit one day and even more so since seeing your beautiful pictures. I am not familiar with the Della Robbia pottery, but it is beautiful too isn't it. Thank you for taking us on such a wonderful colourful visit on this grey and wet morning. xx

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    1. It is not too far from you Amy but if you have never been I would suggest that you wait and visit next spring when the garden is in bloom again.

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  2. This heavy, English style is just adorable. Finest ambiance and perfect choice to spend an early Christmas weekend!
    Belated wishes for your husband's birthday!
    Olympia

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    1. Thank you for your very kind wishes Olympia - the house strikes a cord with many people who love the Arts and Crafts period.

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  3. Dear Rosemary,

    As always it's pure magic to tag along with you on one of your amazing gudied tours. You've opened my eyes to so many exciting places to visit next time I'm in the UK. Standen looks amazing and thank you for bringing us on this beautiful tour. I also loved the part about your sons impressing the lady attendant. :)

    Take care sweet Rosemary and I hope you'll have a nice ending to November.♥

    Charlie
    xx

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    1. Dear Charlie - I appreciate your very kind comment and do hope that you may have the opportunity to visit Standen at some time in the future. May or June would be a fitting time to see should you come♡

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  4. A great tour as usual, Rosemary. I used to live just down the road from Standen. Very amused by your opening tale about your lads correctly identifying the pottery!

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    1. Dear Mike - I had forgotten how pretty the countryside can be immediately surrounding Standen - the gentle hills and autumn trees were looking lovely.

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  5. Hello Rosemary, It is always interesting to see houses that artists, designers and their circle created for themselves, as these were the people who cared so much about beauty and integrating it into their lives. Luckily, Standen is so intact, which allows an even better insight into the ideals of that period.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - It is fortunate that we still have so many of these houses intact with their original belongings. The National Trust do care for them very well and do not keep them in aspic. When items that would once have belonged in the house do come up for sale, the National Trust purchase them if at all possible.

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  6. I do like the pottery displayed and the house is lovely from the outside. The inside is interesting with the Christmas decorations, it makes for that warm Christmas feeling.

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    1. This house was not the Beale's family residence but amazingly it was just their weekend place.

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  7. Dear Rosemary, I don't know where to look first. The Majolica, the fabrics, the wallpaper, the rugs...all so beautiful. Your sunflower and daffodil Tondino is an exceptionally nice piece. Thank you for taking so many photos of the Della Robbia Pottery.

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    1. Dear Gina - the dish you mentioned is not my piece - I did not take a photograph of mine. Mine is a very tall vase with a Latin motto around its rim which has 'art nouveau' hearts and flowers on it. I keep it high up as I am always afraid that it might get knocked over.

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  8. How utterly charming! I like the claret jug the best because I'm a fan of Japanese simplicity and minimalism too.

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    1. If you ever discover a piece of Christopher Dressler's work - buy it - his work is worth a bomb

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  9. A fine looking house with so many Arts and Crafts treasures within. I would love to own a piece of that pottery and the mirror! Your return to Standen was a good way to spend time in honour of H's birthday.

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    1. I am pleased that I do have a piece of Della Robbia, but I agree that the mirror is lovely too.

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  10. Standen is one of my favourite houses - the Arts & Crafts objects and interiors are beautiful, and the history of the family and Philip Webb's designs are fascinating. We visited after attending the nearby Ardingly Showground Antiques Fair where a friend told us she found Standen boring! There's nowt so queer as folk, as we say in Yorkshire.

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    1. Dear Nilly - I suppose it all depends where your interests lie - things that I find boring e.g football many others love.

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  11. Beautiful house, love Arts and Crafts style. The metal fireplace is spectacular. The pottery is wonderful!!!!

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    1. Glad you found the house beautiful Mac n' Janet - it was a delightful day out. If you are over again sometime you might find it an interesting visit.

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  12. I live about twenty minutes from Standen and I always pop along to see it dressed for Christmas. Sometimes they have an elderly lady playing Christmas carols on the piano, and all the visitors sing along. The peacook mirror is my favourite thing in the house.

    Jean
    x

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    1. I am pleased that I showed your favourite thing Jean - there was an elderly man playing the piano on our visit, but not carols, it is probably it bit too early yet, but it created a pleasant ambience.

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  13. What a great post, Rosemary! I love Arts and Crafts, that piano is incredible!

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    1. I am so pleased that you enjoyed it Marielle - thank you

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  14. Oh I love a lot of aspects of this place - so very much of its time - each object beautiful - particularly the mild steel fireplace. It must have been a joy to look around.

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    1. It is as if time has stood still, but still kept in the spirit of the Beale family by the National Trust.

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  15. Oh, I do enjoy your visits to the Stately Homes of England, Rosemary. Standen is another wonderful place. I have never heard of Della Robbia pottery which is absolutely beautiful - I am sure you love your piece. Of course, I enjoyed seeing the Ford Madox Brown painting - I don't know many of his - it seems so perfect for the Arts and Craft house. Great post!

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    1. Dear Patricia - The Ford Maddox Brown painting is from a series of murals that he did for the wonderful Victorian Manchester Town Hall. If you are ever in Manchester it is possible to see them in the Great Hall and viewing is free.
      It is a long, long time since we bought our Della Robbia vase and at the time it was a lot of money, but in retrospect it was probably quite a bargain in comparison with today.

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  16. Beautiful house. Great post. Could you visit during the day or is it just a hotel? Great to see it decorated for Christmas. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Sorry if I have confused you, our hotel was a few miles away. Standen is in the care of the National Trust and is open most days of the year for the public to visit.

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  17. I love Standen and really must visit again. The last time we went they were "putting the house to bed" for the winter - a guided tour on the conservation methods for cleaning the many books, pottery and furniture. So interesting. I am a great fan of the Arts and Crafts Movement too and have also been to the Red House in Bexleyheath. Lovely post Rosemary. x

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    1. Dear Patricia - it appears that they no longer 'put Standen to bed' as it is open all year round. I have noticed that several NT properties are now staying open throughout the winter which is good as you can use your membership for so much longer. Glad you enjoyed it - I have been to the Red House too, but before it was put in the care of the NT. I seem to remember that it was run by a Trust but it is probably better that it is now in the hands of the NT.

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  18. Dear Rosemary,

    Your photographs turned out just fine, and I imagine that the lighting is actually truer to the period. There's so much to appreciate here — I like in particular the fourth image of pottery and the marvelous paneling surrounding the fireplace. One wonders, looking at Christopher Dresser's modern design, how he would have edited his own house in that time. Having seen the simplicity of Japanese living, perhaps his whole space was a precurser to minimalism . . .

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    1. Dear Mark - You are correct about the lighting being truer to the period. Standen, was in fact, one of the first houses to eventually get electricity in that area.
      I am not sure where Christopher Dresser lived, I only know that he was born in Glasgow 34 years before Rennie Mackintosh. Some of his designs are still being produced by Alessi today, in particular his toast racks, and oil/vinegar sets.

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  19. I love pottery in general , but these pieces are something really special . Such a great and rich post.

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    1. Thank you Jane - glad that you like the pottery too

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  20. What a beautiful house...love everything about it! Thank´s for a interesting post again Rosemary...
    Warmly,
    Titti

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    1. There are some really nice features and objects in the house that I would be happy to give a home to - thank you Titti♡

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  21. What a treasure house of Arts and Crafts! No need to apologise for your photos, which are beautiful as always, Rosemary. I know and love the work of Della Robbia himself, but not that of the pottery named after him. How lovely.

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    1. The pottery was a relatively short lived venture lasting for only 12 years. It was never a commercial success even though it was sold through Liberty & Co and was bought by rich people such as the Beale family. However, its wares are now highly prized by collectors.
      I do appreciate your comment Perpetua especially as you are handicapped at the moment.

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  22. Dear Rosemary - I fell in love with Standen at first sight. What a fascinating house with British feel and so many fine and interesting arts! I also like the designs, patterns and color composition of the vases by Della Robbia Pottery. I like simple-looking , functional utensils in which craftsman’s skills shine like the jug in the photo. I wonder if “butler” is uniquely British profession? (I learned the word “butler” in The Remains of the Day.) Thanks for sharing.

    Yoko

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    1. Dear Yoko - of course there is not much call for Butlers these days, but apparently the very rich do still have them. I understand that they can still get jobs in the States working for the rich as they like the way they perform their duties so graciously.
      I am delighted that you enjoyed seeing Standen, it is a house steeped in Arts and Crafts elements. Christopher Dresser's jug is aesthetically pleasing, influenced of course by Japanese designs. It is salutary to remember that it is about 150 years old as it looks quite contemporary.

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  23. Oh Rosemary I share your love of the "Arts and craft movement", this post has been a feast to the eyes. So many beautiful pieces. Sarah x

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    1. Delighted that you enjoyed seeing the house and the objects Sarah - sometime you must try and visit - it is on the West Sussex, Surrey borders heading in the direction of Gatwick.

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  24. Dear Rosemary, Standen will be on my 'Wish-to-go'-list, thanks to you!
    Your photographs give a fine impression - it is always so annoying when one sees something beautiful and isn't allowed to take photos (in Berlin there are galleries which never allow, others are kind - and that one isn't allowed to use a flash we all understand).

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    1. Dear Britta - I do hope you can make a visit at some stage in the future. The NT are very good at allowing photos without flash as long as the building and contents have been completely handed over to the Trust and no longer belong to the family who lived there. Sometimes the contents are on permanent loan and photos are not then, understandably, allowed.

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