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, LeicestershireA '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.
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