Saturday, 9 July 2016

Blackwell

 

Blackwell is a stunning Arts & Crafts House built for a northern industrial baron, Sir Edward Holt, the owner of a prosperous brewery in Manchester.
Overlooking Lake Windermere it was designed as a holiday home for the Holt family by architect Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott, and is considered a masterpiece of early twentieth century design.

Happily Blackwell still retains an outstanding amount of surviving decorative arts and crafts details through lack of modernisation. After the Holts lost their son in the First World War they used Blackwell less and less. They had a skeleton staff of servants keeping an eye on the property, but rarely visited.  During the Second World War pupils from a school in Liverpool were evacuated there, and after the war the school continued until finally closing in 1976. Blackwell was leased to English Nature, the government agency who promoted the conservation of wildlife and geology. They boarded up the fireplaces and covered much of the decoration with filing cabinets thus ensuring that the Arts and Crafts elements were preserved.
Lakeland Arts Trust now manages Blackwell - they encourage you to stroll around the house at your leisure, relax in the cosy inglenook fireplaces whilst reading their good selection of Arts and Crafts books, or sit on the window seats in each room and enjoy the magnificent Lakeland views
Peacock wallpaper frieze by Shand Kydd was installed in 1906 - I suspect that the copper lamps were made by W.A.S Benson
Sideboard and Hessian wallhanging both designed by Baillie Scott - the background has faded, originally it was dark blue not brown

Baillie Scott saw the fire on dark winter days as a substitute for the sun - its cheerfulness akin to the delight sunlight brings.
A terracotta bust of Ruskin, the leading Victorian English art critic, art patron, draughtsman, watercolourist and prominent social thinker and philanthropist. His home, Brantwood, lies nearby on the shores of Coniston Water which can also be visited
Rowan leaves and berries form a dominant decorative theme particularly in the White Drawing Room
Emerging from the darker more masculine wood panelled rooms, the White Drawing Room has a much lighter more feminine touch. The moulded plaster work may contain some references to past Elizabethan interiors but the most powerful impression is one of modernity, and very different from the gloomy tones and clutter of a typical Victorian parlour
An oak barrel chair inlaid with ebony by Baillie Scott
The bay window overlooking Windermere has been likened to the bridge of a ship
Lustre ware dish by renown Arts and Crafts potter Willam De Morgan

Last post from the Lake District

44 comments:

  1. What an incredible beautiful house, so nice to look around and imagine how you could live there.

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    1. It is indeed a lovely house, and in a beautiful location - a little gem

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  2. I love arts and crafts so this looks a fascinating house to visit. I've been studying each photo carefully! How sad that the Holt's created such a beautiful house and then lost interest in it after the tragic loss of their son. The views are stunning, too.

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    1. I am an arts and crafts lover too, and although I went to Blackwell many years ago, it was lovely to return again to be reacquainted.

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  3. A most beautiful home, with interesting history behind it.
    Blackwell house sits in a stunning place.. the views are amazing.
    As always, dear Rosemary. You take us to such wonderful places.
    I enjoyed all the lovely artworks in this home..so glad they are now able to be viewed..
    xx val

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    1. It is wonderful Val that all the arts and crafts details are intact even down to the hessian wall hangings. These things could so easily have been destroyed when it was a school and then the headquarters of English Nature.

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  4. Such a wonderful home , setting and that view ! I am lucky to have inherited a few pieces of my grandmothers Arts& Crafts Pottery and I collect it too ... it is just wonderful to look at !

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    1. I too have some pieces of arts and crafts pottery and also several pieces of silver that I have collected through my love of that period of design.

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  5. What a stunning place! Have always liked Arts and Craft style.

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    1. Glad that you enjoyed see it - put it on your list when you are next over.

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  6. WOW! I am so glad I got to see this post. This house is just beautiful. How lucky that it has been so well preserved. So much might have been damaged or destroyed. Thank you for sharing these lovely photos.

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    1. Thank you Catherine - I am delighted that you enjoyed seeing Blackwell - we had a rainy morning so decided to visit Blackwell as we were unable to walk in the hills.

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  7. What an interesting visit. I was struck by the bay window - it could have been featured in an up-to-the-minute architectural magazine. The white room is so cool-ly beautiful. I can imagine that a weekend spent in the house would have soothed any busy industrialist's heart! You are certainly blessed with places to visit for inspiration and a shot of beauty for its own sake.

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    1. There is a contemporary feel to the house even though it is now over 100 years old. It must have appeared extraordinary compared to the usual Victorian house of the time.

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  8. What a magnificent house! Thank goodness that disuse and benign neglect served to preserve it for the future!

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    1. It has stayed in remarkable condition especially when you consider that a school of young children used the building for such a long time.

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  9. Hello Rosemary, I like the concept seen in this house that areas of intense decoration are always next to plainer sections, so the the total effect is still rich but never heavy or overwhelming.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - it is all very harmonious and pleasing to eye, and you are right about the intense decoration being next to plainer sections which I am pleased that you pointed out.

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  10. How perfectly gorgeous - those blue tiles in the fireplace are just amazing!
    Why can't life be beautiful and have the peaceful feeling this house provides, with the loveliest and honestly of nature outside the door and windows. I truly think we are all in a state of shock and the world has gone berserk.

    Mary -

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    1. I share your feelings Mary - that is one of the reasons that I was very happy to escape to this lovely region for a break and forget about what was going on in the world and especially in our country♡

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  11. I have always wanted to visit Blackwell. I wonder what it was like to have been a student there during the war. One would hope the house and landscape had some influence on their characters.

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    1. Dear Susan - my feelings were that they must have enjoyed and respected the property for everything to have remained so intact and seemingly cared for. There was no graffiti or damage to any of the beautiful woodwork or artifacts.

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  12. Dear Rosemary,

    What a wonderful house and I love all the amazing detail and craftmanship, thanks for showing us.
    The wallpaper reminds me of something like what William Morris made.
    I can just imagine curling up on the window seat, with a good book and looking out over the lake.
    Happy Sunday
    hugs
    Carolyn

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    1. Dear Carolyn - you are right the biggest legacy stylewise to the Arts and Crafts Movement was via William Morris - I also see touches of Rennie Mackintosh, the Art Nouveau architect and designer within the White Drawing Room at Blackwell.

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  13. Thank you for inviting us to Blackwell. What an amazing house with beautiful arts and crafts. So glad they have been preserved in good condition. I watched those all arts carefully one by one. I especially love the organ with some music notes on it and the lovely chair on the carpet. I imagine how the music instrument made sounds at that time. Such a lovely corner!
    Thank you for visit. Sorry, I am not fast in English. Happy day to you!

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    1. Dear Tomoko - you are welcome and thank you for your comment. I am so pleased that you enjoyed seeing this lovely house situated in its beautiful location. Hope to see you again.

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  14. Dear Rosemary,
    Beautiful stained glass windows. I love the peacock wallpaper frieze in such a lovely wood paneled room. It must have been very peaceful to take your time moving from room to room. Thank you for sharing the beauty.

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    1. Blackwell is lovely with so many different aspects to enjoy - the house, its ambience, and all the lovely arts and crafts details.

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  15. Blackwell is a wonderful treasure trove of the Arts and Crafts movement, and I enjoyed your pictures very much. The blue touches throughout appeal to me, expressed in a variety of ways. The Blue bird windows and the peacock freize, not forgetting the beautiful fireplace all caught my eye. The White Drawing room is stunning, and also modern as others have pointed out. So sad to think the Holts lost interest, but perhaps understandable in the circumstances. Thank you for the visit Rosemary.

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    1. Delighted that you enjoyed seeing Blackwell Patricia - we visited a good many years ago, but it was lovely to reacquaint ourselves again with this treasure trove of a house.

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  16. A nice tour. I was also struck by the look of the house from that distance shot, very similar to the profile of the Hill House above Helensburgh in colour and design so Mackintosh must have been a big inspiration from the start. The first four photos plus the 4th from bottom( oak barrel chair) could easily be from one of his buildings up here.

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    1. I agree with you, there is much in this house that makes me think of Rennie Mackintosh too.

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  17. The stained glass is my favorite.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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  18. Lovely to see that all is the same as it was...

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    1. Fortunate that it was not destroyed during its life as a school and an office.

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  19. Blackwell, so very beautiful, I should like to sit in the bay window overlooking Windermere, overthinking all the beautiful things seen in the house. The peacock wallpaper frieze in that lovely room, the oak barrel chair and then reading or only look into the arts and crafts books, for me the ultimate pleasure.

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    1. You must try and visit on one of your trips Janneke - I think that you would enjoy it. They have a lovely restaurant, and also a wonderful shop filled with high quality contemporary arts and crafts work.

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  20. An incredible and very beautiful building! Lovely to see the furnishings too!

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    1. It is a special house to visit Amy

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  21. I have seen this house before from photos when a friend visited. I fell in love with it - I love anything Arts & Crafts - beautiful simple designs - the general feeling of the place invites calm somehow. I hope to visit myself one day.

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    1. It is a lovely house with a special ambience Elaine - I am sure that you will enjoy it when you visit.

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  22. I’m marveled at the impeccable refined taste of the Blackwell. In addition to strolling around the house, I’d like to set myself on the widow seat to admire the views or oak barrel chair (if it is permitted) by the fireplace when reading the books of arts and crafts in person. I’m interested in how the sound of organ resonate in the house when played. So many to see at the Lake District.

    Yoko

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    1. Hello Yoko - you could certainly settle on the window seat to admire the view and also sit in the inglenook seats, but the barrel chair is out of bounds as it was designed and made by Ballie Scott - I felt that I would like to have sat on it too. I agree that the musical instrument does resemble an organ, but it is actually a piano which was also designed by Ballie Scott, and which he called the Manxman. I know that there is also one in The Art Institute of Chicago, the V&A London, and of course this one in Blackwell.

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