We recently visited Stoneywell, a delightful homely retreat and a paradise for the many generations of children who lived there – perfect for “Swallows and Amazons” adventures.
We are lucky to live only a couple of miles away from Stoneywell, one of the country’s rare surviving examples of an Arts and Crafts cottage complete with many original furniture and contents.
This gem of a place was built and designed by Arts and Craft architect Ernest Gimson for his brother Sydney as an intriguing and idiosyncratic summer residence. The National Trust now retell the story of the Gimson family who owned and loved the cottage. Its history is fascinating, – and it shows as in its charming style, but the Arts and Crafts ideals upheld in this cottage went further, – to signify a rediscovery of manual craft that went hand in hand with a desire for a return to a simpler life.
Ernest Gimson, was a furniture designer and architect, and he designed the Stoneywell cottage around 1897-99, before it was built by Detmar Blow in 1899. Gimson was part of the Arts and Crafts movement aimed at restoring simplicity and honesty to how buildings and furnishings were made. The movement was a reaction against the affects of industrialisation, and all the time Gimson and his workers remained true to William Morris’s ideal that: ‘Nothing should be made by man’s labour which is not worth making, or must be made by labour degrading to the makers’.
Ernest Gimson collaborated a great deal with the Barnsley brothers, Ernest and Sidney – a confusing number of ‘Erns’ & ‘Sids’ in the Arts & Crafts world, – who like him designed and made much of Stoneywell Cottage’s furniture.
We love the furniture of Gimson and the Barnsleys, often described as the Cotswold ‘tradition’ or style. For us it is the forerunner and inspiration for modern design in the twentieth century. So simple and well-proportioned, it is easy to understand its influence on designers and makers to the present day… We have a particular affection for the care and skill taken in the open construction of the furniture. You can only admire the attention to detail in pattern of dovetails down the sides of a piece of furniture, and in the through tenons and dowelled joints.
Some pictures of our visit and some of the wonderful workmanship we witnessed…
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