Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Stoneywell Cottage

Stoneywell Cottage, designed by Ernest Gimson, appears in several of my books on the Arts and Crafts period and style - it has always attracted me. The cottage is now the latest gem to join the National Trust's portfolio of properties gifted to them by a third generation from the Gimson family. I was delighted to discover that our journey to Nottingham would afford us an opportunity to visit. Following restoration the doors were finally opened this February. The cottage  nestles snugly besides a rocky outcrop deep in the heart of Charnwood Forest, Leicestershire
A 'last hurrah' from the bluebells around Stoneywell for the year 
Stoneywell was designed in the Arts and Crafts style by architect/designer Ernest Gimson, the build was supervised by Detmar Blow and completed in 1899. It was a family summer residence for Ernest's two brothers, his sister, and their families. 
The stables and laundry have now become a delightful tea-room and shop selling Arts and Crafts gifts
A gentle stroll to the cottage via the Kitchen garden
then along a colourful Rhododendron & Azalea walk
Torrential rain accompanied our travels but on arrival at Stoneywell the skies cleared and eventually the sun appeared
First glimpse of Stoneywell Cottage
Ernest Gimson, pronounced 'Jimson' was born in Leicester. He was one of the sons of Josiah Gimson, a wealthy iron foundry owner.  When he was a teenager Ernest attended a lecture given by William Morris on 'Art and Socialism' which was to have a profound effect on him. He studied architecture at Leicester School of Art and then moved to London to gain a wider experience and William Morris wrote him letters of recommendation. It was in London that he met Ernest Barnsley and it was through him that he met Sidney Barnsley and forged a friendship that was to last the rest of their lives. 
In 1893 Gimson and the Barnsley brothers all moved to a Cotswold valley literally across the hills from where I live now. 
Gimson was described by the art critic Nikolaus Pevsner as "the greatest of the English architect/furniture designers". They set up a studio and workshop together in the small hamlet of Sapperton where they designed Arts and Crafts properties along with most of the furnishings to go in them.
A watercolour by Edward Davies C1899 showing the original house before it was extended and the roof tiled
The thatched roof was replaced following a fire in 1938 and re-roofed in secondhand local Swithland slates. Thatched roofs are no longer the fire hazard that they used to be with the advent of central heating. 
Originally the main door opened into the kitchen now housed in an extension
The dining hall has a table and dresser by Sidney Barnsley, the chairs being made by Ernest Gimson 
Gimson learnt the skills required to turn wood on a pole lathe, and make rush seats from Philip Clissett a traditional chairmaker in Herefordshire. Gimson was in Herefordshire with Clissett for six weeks and when he returned back to the Sapperton workshop he past on his new found skills to the Barnsley brothers. 
Philip Clissett
Storage area originally the kitchen larder
Most of the windows are dressed with Morris & Company fabrics
A slate stairway leads up to the livingroom
Around 1900 Gimson began designing metalwork especially wall sconces, firedogs, candlesticks,  lanterns, and door furniture. This oak leaf and acorn design on the wall in Stoneywell is very typical of his style which often reflected things seen in nature.
Being a weekend and holiday home the living room had to function on several levels, reading, painting, writing, playing, relaxing, and socialising
A slate vertiginous stairway leads from the livingroom to the bedrooms
Main bedroom with bed, chair and secretaire/chest  by Sidney Barnsley
Carved Walnut Coffer commissioned by Gimson's brother Sidney and made by Joseph Armitage a master at Leicester College of art. 
The National Trust logo
Coincidentally in 1935 Joseph Armitage entered a National Trust competition to design their logo which he won with just a slight variation to the oak leaves and acorns on the above coffer. Regrettably I omitted to photograph the oak leaves and acorn which are on the side of the coffer 
 Walnut Secretaire-Chest C1908 made for Basil Gimson's 21st birthday by Sidney Barnsley. This is considered to be an early piece by him as the feet have only two carved steps rather than the more familiar three suggesting that he was still developing his style
In the children's bedrooms were these brightly coloured posters. They look as if they are from the 1920s - the writing on them states 'from Prof. Cizek's juvenile art class - Austrian Junior Red Cross, Vienna'
I assumed that this black doll known as a 'Mammy doll' would be considered racist today! but I am now questioning that having received a comment from biebkriebels - please add your own thoughts
A working model railway set in the boys bedroom that visitors can play with at the end of their visit

60 comments:

  1. Hello Rosemary,
    Wonderful to read that Stoneywell Cottage has been restored, it's good that these establishments are renovated to look as they once did. I wonder how I would go going up those steps to the bedroom, have to be sure footed. The garden is colourful this time of year.
    For me it's good to see how things were.
    Regards,
    Margaret

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    1. It was easier than it looks Margaret - there was also another stairway that wasn't so vertiginous as the one I showed. It would be best not to consumed too many glasses of wine when off to bed! I think that the stairway contributed to the 'fun element' in this holiday home.

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  2. What inspirational photos. Thank you so much for posting them.

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    1. Thank you Nancy - I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing them

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  3. Such a beautiful place that Stoneywell Cottage and so nice to have a look inside. I had a black doll as well when I was young, I thought that was "political correct" at that time and still is?

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    1. As a result of your comment I am now questioning my assumption and have changed the text in this post. Thank you it will be interesting to have more inputs

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  4. Hello Rosemary, Gimson's creation of Stoneywell is impressive, both the house and its setting; I think that the enlarged form is better looking and better proportioned. The irregular surfaces and painted beams inside remind me of adobe architecture in the U.S. Southwest. I agree with Margaret/Whiteangel that that staircase is a horror--charm counts for nothing when it compromises safety, and those stairs are just plain frightening, anyway.

    I love all of the furniture in the house--I need to study Gimson more as a furniture designer. My favorite detail of all is that oak-leaf sconce.
    --Jim

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    1. Dear Jim - There was another easier stairway, also made of slate, but surprisingly we all ascended the vertiginous stairway easily using the rope for support - I went first by the way.
      You are right about the adobe architecture being similar in the interior shots.

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  5. What a delightful cottage, absolutely brimming with character!
    The wood burning stoves that are currently so fashionable can actually be more risky for thatch. The heat that builds up in the chimney is much greater than would be the case for an open fire, most crucially at the point where the stack passes through the roof. It can be enough to cause the straw to spontaneously combust. There is a wood burner here which I've never dared use and yet, even though the chimney is lined, we still have to pay a higher insurance premium because of it. Hopefully we'll get it removed before winter.

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    1. I didn't realise that Jessica - no fires at all then in thatch to be on the safe side.

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  6. Oh, I love Stoneywell cottage, Rosemary. It is like something out of a storybook, and delightfully whimsical. The softly rounded corners and irregular angles are very appealing, especially the steep staircase. I am guess the rope is to use in place of a handrail? The children's rooms are a treat, particularly the 1920s posters, and even the Mammy doll. I rather like them, but in Australia I think they can be a sensitive issue these days. The Australian artist Destiny Deacon has used black dolls and 1950s kitsch objects in her installations which consider the plight of the indigenous peoples of Australia.

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    1. I have always loved this little holiday cottage when looking through my books, and in reality it is even more charming perhaps because of the way it nestles in the countryside so comfortably. H and I both thought that we could happily move into it.
      I know that Barbie launched a black doll but it was designed in the same style as the original Barbie. The Mamma dolls I thought were maybe racialist because they are both defining and characterising black people in a particular roles.

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  7. There are so many things to like about this beautifully constructed house that holds so much design history. The 1908 birthday chest is certainly a labor of love. I like the room with the triangular window, and I can see from the exterior shot exactly where it is located in the house. I also like the idea of the bookcase in the boys' bedroom abutting the bed, though I imagine I'd be constantly shifting books on the shelves!

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    1. Dear Mark - I am pleased that you like this pretty Arts and Crafts cottage too.
      I enjoyed the book shelves running under the beams around the top of the walls in the living room as well.
      The cottage sits in such a lovely situation and adds rather than detracts to the surroundings.

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  8. .I very much enjoyed looking at this gem of a cottage which I had not heard of before. Thank you for the beautiful photographs

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    1. You are welcome 'artisfriend' and I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing this lovely cottage

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  9. Dear Rosemary, what a gem of an Art and Craft Cottage! I am so glad it got into the National Trust and is saved that way for the future. I love the architecture of the cottage, but I think the furniture are equally precious. Thanks for featuring it on your blog, I am glad that I got to see it that way!
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. Dear Christina - I am delighted that you enjoyed seeing this beautiful example of an Arts and Craft cottage - it only opened its doors for the first time four months ago, so we were fortunate to be in the area and able to visit it.

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  10. What a beautiful property! I will keep it in mind Rosemary when I visit the UK next. My daughters and I always enjoy those NT properties.

    Madelief x

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    1. Hope you do manage to visit it someday Madelief - it is such a unique pretty cottage and sitting in a delightful location.

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  11. What a fabulous house!!!!!!!!!! How did I not know about this!!!!! Thank you so much for taking us on this visit. I love it. The outside reminds me somewhat of Coleton Fishacre in the shape of the house and the roof shape and so on. Loved it and so glad that you did too! xx

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    1. It is the latest property in the National Trusts portfolio Amy - I am particular fond of the Arts and Crafts period so this property was high on my list of visits to make.

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  12. Hello Rosemary,
    What a beautiful and peaceful place. I really enjoyed your photos. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Hello Kovács - thank you for your visit and kind comment, please do come again

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  13. This is a handsome home, inside and out, with so many wonderful features like the sconce and wooden dresser, etc. Tricky stairs to climb though. How good it is preserved and people can visit it.

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    1. Thank you Terra - I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing it. There was another stairway with an easier accent - I think that this little stairway was a fun element in what was a holiday home.

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  14. I like all the features in and out at the Stoneywell Cottage…perfect in refined antiquity. The wall adorned with wisteria blooms is perfectly lovely. The playfulness of the narrow steep stairway or the triangular window in the bedroom is fun. This cottage would be many like-minded people’s dream house including me. Thanks for sharing, Rosemary.

    Yoko

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    1. This cottage sits in such a tranquil spot with wonderful views from all the windows - it must have been lovely for the children of the family spending weekends and holidays there.

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  15. A beautiful house until I saw the slate stairway. I cannot manage those stairs, I would be living all the time in the living room.

    Ms Soup

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    1. You would be alright as there is another more traditional stairway, and remember that this is a holiday home so it is just a fun element.

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  16. As well as the architecture of this cottage with the wonderful, large chimney stack, the detail such as that small triangular window and the use of slate in places, I love the Arts and Crafts furnishing fabrics and the furniture.

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    1. It is a new jewel in the crown of the NT Linda - having admired it from afar in my books as I was happy that it surpassed my expectations.

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  17. I don't know when I last enjoyed a blog post so much.Keep it up !!!!!

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    1. Thank you so much - you have made my day.

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  18. What a fascinating place, love everything about it ...even the narrow staircase leading to the bedrooms :-))

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    1. I think that it is gorgeous too Jane

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  19. How perfectly perfect. I have always dreamt of living in a cottage in the Cotswolds .. perhaps if I can just visit I will be satisfied ... nah .. I don't think so :)
    This was wonderful. These were my great grandmothers stomping grounds if you could ever say that she stomped. She would swat me if she heard me say she did anything as undignified as stomping :)

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    1. Hello Candice - the cottage is in Leicestershire, but Gimson and the Barnsley brothers lived in the Cotswolds. In which place did your grandmother stomp?

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  20. Hi Rosemary,

    Stoneywell cottage is gorgeous and loved seeing around inside and the garden.

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  21. Sorry I was using my iPad and it sent before I had finished. Love everything about this place from the decor, Morris furnishings are so beautiful to the bluebells and pretty gardens. Thanks for showing us around.
    Happy weekend
    Hugs
    Carolyn

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    1. Dear Carolyn - it was a place that more than lived up to my expectations - delighted that you enjoyed looking around with me.

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  22. What a charming place - very different from the usual NT houses - I particularly liked the furniture. I live not too far from Charnwood Forest - I shall have to pay a visit.

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    1. You can't just turn up Elaine, but have to book online which is simple and easy. It is the same for all visitors including NT members. When I booked my acceptance came back straightaway along with the booking reference for the visit.
      It is in an idyllic spot I am sure that you would enjoy a visit.

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  23. What a wonderful country house. So beautiful garden, I like a lot of the kitchen garden and stones. It was interesting to get a peek inside also. There are many interesting things, but I love the slate stairway which is very charming small and perhaps a bit dangerous, at least for children.

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    1. There was another stairway too Orvokki - but children would not have a problem hanging onto the rope to climb the stairs, it would be an adventure. People my age would be most likely to fail on that stair, but I did manage very well.

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  24. Oh Wow!

    I am sitting in my favorite corner with a cup of tea, and this was the perfect blog to visit. Love every picture. I am not sure if you have ever seen the thatched roof home we lived in years ago in The Netherlands. This brought back memories. janey

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    1. Yes, I do recall your thatched house in the Netherlands Janey, I seem to remember that you showed it after I showed photos of thatchers I saw down in Devon early in the year.
      I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing the post Janey.

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  25. One word! WOW!
    Love it...
    Have a great weekend!
    Titti

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    1. I am pleased that you like it Titti - the cottage does have a great appeal.

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  26. Dear Rosemary, There is so much to admire in your beautiful photographs. Did you use your new camera? I am so impressed with your interior shots. I know that the old cottage would not have had a lot of light but somehow you managed to show us every little corner.

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    1. Dear Gina - my old camera has been relegated to the spares department now, but I do have several posts finished and sitting in drafts that I made with the old camera.
      I am very pleased with the new camera, it was a very good price, and I can take longer distance shots which is what I really wanted to be able to do.

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  27. Oh my, it looks wonderful, I do like Arts and Crafts style.

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    1. It is a little cottage I have long admired - seeing it for the first time it lived up to my expectations and exceeded them

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  28. I love country houses and thanks to your blog I'm compiling a very varied list of fascinating ones to visit. Arts and Crafts is a bit of a favourite of mine too.

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    1. This was a little gem and worth a visit if you are in the area. It is necessary to book first even for NT members but easily done on the internet.

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  29. Dear Rosemary, I share your love of the Arts and craft movement and I am enjoying discovering buildings in our new location that are built in this style. The cottage looks fantastic and will be a big asset to the National Trust's properties, what a coincendance that Joseph won the logo competition! Sarah x

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    1. I imagine that the NT found it a happy coincidence too - this house fits so beautifully in its surroundings - a little gem

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