I found my house in Stockwell 20 years ago. It’s an early Victoria terraced house second from the end, with steps up to the apple green front door and a ground floor bay window on metal stilts.

There was a for sale sign outside the house I noticed when visiting my good friends Rohan and Catherine who lived next door. Amazingly they had been given keys by the owner, so straight in we went.

The house was totally empty, not a stick of furniture just the bare bones.I remember is so well, it was an early summer afternoon and the sun was streaming through the back sittingroom window and it looks so welcoming.The house had been rented out as bedsits with a shared scuzzy kitchen in the basement, which led into the garden.

Most of the original features were still intact, all the floor boards were exposed, each room had forgettable Victorian fire places, which over time I’ve up graded. One of my favourites is an unpainted carved wooden surround which I bought from the Colefax and Fowler leaving Mount Street sale, it’s in the kitchen, far too smart for the house but I don’t give a monkieys.

In the main sitting room I guess a painter had lived, who loved green oil paint. The floor boards were covered in Veridian green sadly not a favourite shade of mine. There are still specks under the rug today.

I had always wanted my own front door after years of renting flats in shared building. The first flat I bought in Battersea had the worst entrance known to man, it was an ex local authority building, council flats to you and me, built in the 70s. It has a urine stinking entrance hall and a death trap lift.
But it did make the cover of The World of Interiors, thank you for asking. [Jack and Jill. See below]

This house was my dream come true, steps up to the front door, originally 2 bedrooms with double sitting room on the first floor with a large connecting door, which I jig-sawed in two. Fireplaces at both ends with views over the back garden and all original sash windows, no shutters sadly.

I was working for Min [Hogg] as a stylist at The World of Interiors at the time when I bought it. So I was constantly bombarded with beautiful wall papers and fabric, most of it way out of my budget. I loved (and still do) hand-painted Chinese wall papers and would beg De Gournay to lend me drops for my shoots.
I can’t quite remember how it came about but after a great friendship had evolved with De Gournay they offered to paper my entrance hall, so they could shoot it, shut the back door!
The rest is history, I still have this stunning dusky green background wallpaper with off white birds and coral details, it’s their Earlham design.
Totally too smart for my hall but looks amazing and I love it daily.

Back bedroom

Garden veiw

Stairs to basement kitchen

Wallpaper is an addiction, once you’ve tried one you need more and more. Most of the house is now papered. [The ‘too-grand’ Colefax and Fowler kitchen chimneypiece]

The kitchen has a Pierre Frey paper called Espalier, which is of twigs and herbs espaliered across it, it creates a kind of trellis illusion, its become another top favourite.

I was in Pierre Frey on the Fulham Road before it moved years ago, when a lady came in waving a page torn from The WOI with my kitchen on it, she wanted the same paper, I was quietly thrilled.

Miro-inspired platter by Gavin Houghton for sale in his online shop

Lavatory

Bathroom

From our bedroom, which is at the front of the house with two sash windows overlooking a council estate – which when I first moved here was very lively – I would often see blue flashing lights on my ceiling at night and hear the coppers racing around trying to catch god knows who.
One day I’ll never forget someone knocked on the front door, I opened it to 2 police men both looking very formal, oh shit what have I done?
One of them – I can still picture him clearly as I had a major schoolgirl crush – he was a red-headed bearded god in uniform. I’ve Just checked my phone to see if I still have his number, I can’t believe it, Darren was his name.
Sorry get back to the story.
They asked if I would be OK for them to set up a stake-out post from my bedroom? Darren clipped his camera to my Madeleine Castaing stiff tasselled pelmet, focusing on a phone box over the road with a box on the floor recording every minute, sadly marmalade hunk wasn’t going to man the camera 24/7.
He did visit regularly to take away the footage and replace the tape. We would chat as I sat on the bed, it was quite surreal. I hope he enjoyed my bedroom wallpaper, which I gaze at more than any other paper in the house.

It’s from Brunswig and Fils and it’s called Gallier Diamond, I think it’s one of the most perfect design repeats.
Firstly, pale blue and chocolate brown together is a colour combination sent from the gods and the mix of geometric diamond shapes, natural sprigs of foliage and – to top it off – a classical curlicue which I’ve always been drawn to, creates the perfect rhythm and design.
The curtain fabric I mentioned earlier is in the same colour combo! I think of it as a Gauloise fag pack blue which Min would chain smoke in the Kings Road office before we were moved to Vogue House.

The overly grand marble fire place in my bedroom was a lucky freebie. I’d advised  a client with a stunning house in Kensington that is wasn’t correct or quite good enough for their dining room, so I replaced it with a stunner from Jamb. At the end of the project I found it  piled up in pieces, ready for the skip, so, doing the right thing I adopted it and had it installed in my bedroom and commissioned the Delft looking tiles from Douglas Watson, who’s brilliant. They all have a different background colour so they look original.

It seemed like the right time to get more dogs. We’d had to put down our last heavenly creatures, Boris and his girlfriend Loulou (they’d both reached very good ages). I’ve always loved Jack Russells, so the hunt was on.
I didn’t want puppies to house train and I feel it’s good to adopt dogs that need a home. We found the perfect couple. Both Jack Russells, 3 years old and living together. Not actually related, and we were told, that they had had puppies. together
The boy is called Jack and she’s called Jill. I’d had fantasies of giving them both delicious names, Ottoline, Anastasia, Igor, I seem to gravitate to Russian names. But out on our first walk, I needed to get Jill back in line, so screaming Anastasia didn’t wash, as you can imagine. So Jill it is, and I’ve fallen in love with her and her name. Jack’s such a Jack, so perfect.
The collection of these two turned into a bit of a saga. They lived in a housing estate in Bradford, 4 hours drive north of us. So off I went, stopping for a night in Manchester for the fun of it, then in the morning, sat nav set the final leg. I remember getting slightly nervous as I entered the cul-de-sac, but as I turned the corner I could see two Jack Russells perched on the back of a black leather sofa looking out of the window. The meet and greet was no fun, as the previous owners were still in love with them but they couldn’t cope. Workloads and manic pups. We sat on the floor and Jack licked my face and Jill wanted her tummy rubbed, nothing has changed in this department.
I asked if I could take them for a brief walk, just to be alone with them, so off we went. I then put them in the car before going back into the house. I had a box of chocolates for the owners, we hugged and exchanged cash and off I went.
They have turned out to be the nicest sweetest, friendliest dogs one could have wished for. I send the ex-owners photos and videos now and again. She told me she cries with joy.

GH’s hand thrown plates for sale in his shop

My other habit is paint, the house has been a great canvas to experiment with colour.
The entrance hall floor I painted by myself on my hands and knees black and white checker board, old floor boards look great painted in this design, especially in an entrance. I’ve used the same idea in a few clients’ houses. One of my latest colour moments I’ve added, is the tobacco ceiling in the sitting room!  Think old stinky smoke-filled pub ceiling, it’s that colour. Once you’ve had a painted ceiling you can’t go back.

For all the places to be, my Stockwell house is up there for me surrounded by pattern, colour and the ghost of Darren.

 

www.gavinhoughton.co.uk

All photography by www.bozgagovski.com

Thanks to Gavin, Boz, Darren

The bibleobritishtaste has asked what it is that one does turning to a new place and re-using all the leftovers for the fourth time in a lifetime .

I would like to point out as I do to people who say things like, ‘ Oh you two are always moving house…’ that there can be no greater privilege than to stay put. 

Dining Room and drawing office laid out on the 16-seater table, Trematon Castle, Cornwall, house no.3.

To stay put over generations must be a wonder beyond imagining, and it has much to do with such social stability over 350 years that the landscape and architectural makeup of the British Isles remains so astonishingly vibrant and preserved. [The Ivy, Chippenham, 1981-1993, Baroque, house no.1]

But I must confess to a flutter in the heart at the prospect of picking up the spillikins of one’s things and playing the re-arranging game once again. 

Hanham Court near Bath, 1993-2012, medieval and Tudor to Arts and Crafts, house no. 2

Hanham Court near Bath, house no.2

Trematon Castle, Cornwall, 2011-2019, Norman, medieval and Soane-Regency, house no. 3.

Trematon has belonged to the Duchy of Cornwall since 1337  and the Bannermans are Gardeners to the Prince of Wales ‘By Appointment’

Entrance Hall, Hanham Court, slab top’grotto’ table from a C18th design by Thomas Farnolls- Pritchard (also designer of the Pitchford Tree House in 1760) inspired by Batty Langley.

It may be that I caught this influenza from my mother who, being a keeper of a shop of antiques, liked to make room sets both in the shop and at home. This meant from a young age helping her move furniture about, paint new colour schemes and also dust what my mother called the ‘incanabula’ which formed her table-scapes. [ The copper ball-finial was made for Christopher’s Wren’s Tom Tower, Christ Church, Oxford, taken down in the 50s when a replacement was made]

Entrance Hall, Trematon Castle, the table again

Dusting is something I have never done since, and hoovering, which she made us do as well as hand sweeping the stair carpet – well I cleverly married a man who enjoys it. [Little Sitting Room, Hanham Court]

Little Sitting Room, Trematon Castle. [Close proximity to Plymouth and in here, slightly more naval.]

Drawing Room, Trematon Castle.

I revel however in playing doll’s houses and this is a thing, along with re-visiting lost domains, that keeps me calm in the hours of the night watch.[Master bedroom, Trematon Castle.]

Perusing these photographs from the bobt, I thought of my great decorating-on- a- budget heroine, Candida Lycett Green [daughter of the poet, John Betjeman ed.], my top decorator after Peter Hinwood. [Great Chamber, Hanham Court.]

I watched Candida move house at least four times in three decades, sometimes on short leases, each time with greater urgency, more straightened circumstances, and fewer things. Yet each iteration was purer Candida and more pleasing. [Great Chamber, Hanham Court.]

Her core beloveds would rise again undaunted and more cherished; her John Piper prints; her French 19th century farm house watercolours; the octagonal library table  – was it by Ernest Gimson – belonging to her father; the green stippled room; the red stippled room; the scrubbed kitchen table and an insulation of books. Each time the edit got better and the new pairings were more ingenious and successful. I love her last house with a passion. I try to emulate at every turn, but my way is very different, and not nearly so adept, though I never buy something cheap and cheerful in some horror shop like Trago Mills without thinking how much she would ‘get it ‘. [Library, Hanham Court, Lee Priory-style Gothick bookcase copied from one made for an Irish House by John Nash and pair of lamps]

My first household goddess was my mother, who, lumbered with five children, became an antique dealer in her forties after an apprenticeship scrounging in Portobello when it was a real market,  and in the shops that clogged high roads of England’s market towns such as Odium and Lavenham and Wallingford – where she in turn managed to open a little shop. 

Barbara Eustace’s framed stock labels, lavatory wall, Tremato Castle

She read voraciously most of the night and much of the day and the only physical activity she enjoyed was the moving of furniture and books, buying cheap stuffs on holiday or from Peter Jones, hanging of pictures, and painting new colour schemes round the pictures she had hung.  [David Vicary luggage label, ‘The Hon. V. Sackville-West]

I joined in willingly from a young age and quickly caught the acquisitive thing, if it was not already inchoate. [Bedroom, Trematon Castle, curtains hung inside out to show off their striped silk linings]

Bathroom with view over Plymouth Sound, Trematon Castle,the other one of the pair of lime-yellow armchairs.

From her I learnt the pleasure of jokes and chuck-away, she didn’t like to be too serious about anything {Dining Room chimney, Trematon Castle], flotilla of battleships

She had worked earlier for the legendary Roy Brooks, the honest London estate agent whose sales particulars and adverts said things like ‘ Pimlico Peid-a-terre  – only fit for dwarves’ ( not sure if you could say that these days  – but it made him a small time urban hero). [Original cartoon by Osbert Lancaster]

 Hence her shop labels, luggage labels in a way-ahead JCB yellow, were very honest and funny. See picture… ‘Jokey pictures for Chelsea bathrooms, exceptionally good frames.’

My mother’s approach was not quite as inventive as Candida, queen of comfort and a certain modern lightness, who made her hall console tables from tree trunks and painted scaffolding boards, but she was deeply afraid of conventionality. [Bedroom early in the making, with a pair of daybeds and Isabel’s fern photograph, Trematon Castle]

Master bedroom, Hanham Court, made -up Gothick 4-poster in grey paint finish

She was the first person in the world as far as I know to cover an arm chair with an old kelim carpet, and this was because she had a tame upholsterer called Mr Dickinson round the back of Elgin Crescent, who remade her derelict finds with the craftsmanship and humility of the tailor of Gloucester. [An attic bedroom, Hanham Court]

I can find no such heroic craftsmen now, and besides, I like the relaxed feel of a loose cover, which I can make myself and out of anything, table clothes, old curtains and of course  old Ushak carpets which can be used to cover club fenders and gracious ottomans. Needs must and the results are never boring. [Little Sitting room, Trematon Castle, the Gothick bookcases again]

The copper finial ball again.

Here we are now, in the valley of the river Yeo,

Camping pro-tem in the carcass of half an Elizabethan E -shaped show-off house

A little house with big pretensions – demoted to a farm house by a fire which put paid to two prongs of the E leaving a botched L instead in 1820. [ New house, no. 4]

– Eviscerated of all internal glamour ( and logic ) but for monumental Hamstone fireplaces (all of which smoked like Vesuvius about to blow ) we thought very hard about how, or indeed if, we could live in it until there might be funds to ‘make reparation’ as our polish builder put it.

We could and do live quite happily with the ‘Jennifer Archer’ kitchen – her last but three at Home Farm I would suggest – dating from around 1980

I feel sure it was ‘top of range’ being made of American fumed Oak with a troubadour balcony over the cooker extractor. I think Candida would have painted it white but we couldn’t be bothered and besides, it is approaching its very own age of vintage charm. It works really well after forty years, only the hard, pug-beige tiles on the floor are a breakables magnet.

Their pug, Popeye.

Our bathroom had to have the avocado with gold fitments basin and lav replaced because they had seized up as has, finally, and rather regrettably, the engine of the green corner jacuzzi bath which we continue to enjoy.

Our bedroom next door is a peon of cross light, from north, east and West in it pours, bouncing off the white walls and through the fine spring spinach green linen of some Edwardian curtains bought at the Earls Hall sale in Fife in 1982 when we were first together. These curtains are two things we hated in the 1980’s, they are sill height, and they are slightly see through. I find a perverse pleasure in this now, bucking the trend is a habit born of necessity, it’s why I never wore jeans for the twenty years or so that the word ‘designer’ was so stickily attached to them. In houses as in clothes its always about finding something affordable garnished with a dose of wit and originality. It maybe outsize, violently coloured, puritanically simple, or  just plain odd like the strange objects one inherited from aged aunts – in my case the Tibetan dinner ‘Gong’,  not on object I would ever seek to own, but this one has been banging away all my life and everybody loves it even though it now serves as a repository for gloves and winter hats in the ‘gents’.

 
The downstairs loo is particularly horrible, nothing to be done for now,

but mercifully the sitting room is a gem. The smelly carpets ripped out and reasonable elm and pine floors revealed, we painted everything white and then just to make our mark we chose that egg yellow colour  to make the sitting room truly ours, a colour used by both our mothers,

by Janet Shand Kydd and by Nancy Lancaster, whose name for it was ‘butta yella’. It may not be forever but it is very heartening right now. Pair of upright sofas just covered in Baker’s Fern print, spare curtain chintz, the gift of Alice Lennox Boyd. The Gothick table lamps again.

Library, also tv, taken very soon after moving in, bookcase formerly in the drawing room at Trematon, and Christopher Wren’s Tom Tower copper finial ball

Drawing room and library bookcase at Trematon Castle

Trematon, the full rig

From the containers of ‘stuff’ we sifted as best we could, comfort and practicality sort of coming first. But thinking about it pictures are really how we make a room. [Hanham Court, staircase]

They are the one thing which it is quite impossible to give away when you move house, let alone sell to anyone, and we have collected stacks and stacks. [Hanham Court, bathroom corridor]

They gather dust and hang crooked, fall off the wall and the glass gets broken, and most of the time I despair of them. But, that’s how we stake our claim. [Hanham Court]

They are like the Rubik’s cube of our design process, they can be put together in myriad ways to create multiple and diverse effects. [Trematon Castle. dining room]

Hanham Court, attic bathroom

Candida did it too; in one house Pipers were on the stairs, in another in her bedroom and at another in the kitchen – each time giving a whole different decorating pleasure. [Treamton Castle. Drawing room, Piranesi prints]

Trematon Castle Drawing Room, small landscapes by landscape designer and decorator David Vicary and Isabel’s mother’s painting by Robert McBride, now  hanging in her bedroom at Ashridge Manor.

We have fern prints, torn out of a book with frames painted yellow ( here seen at Trematon)

 and they stack up each time in a new way. [Master bedroom at Trematon Castle, Isabel’s loose covers in G and P Baker’s Fern chintz]

David Vicary’s Wiltshire lithographs in a mixed hang at Trematon Castle.

David Vicary’s lithographs of Avebury and other Neolithic stones have not surfaced, but I like to have them somewhere I can look at them every day, along with Barbara Jones and Bawden and Ravilious. We once owned an unfinished Ravilious, paying on the ‘never never’ at the Fine Arts Society – we couldn’t finish either, making the payments, so it had to go back. [David Vicary’s Wiltshire lithographs in a stacked hang in the master bedroom at Hanham Court]

Master bedroom at Hanham Court rehung with C19th Neopolitan Volcano paintings.

Boy’s bathroom at Hanham Court

Boy’s bedroom at Trematon Castle

The beatitude bedroom at Ashridge Manor has the Sir Gawain’s green curtains, a Hamstone fireplace with matching Cupboard from Leominster, faux bamboo bedside chest and matching bamboo coloured home-concocted four poster bed now in its third home which is not high enough for the gothic top pelmet. [The bed when intact and first painted bamboo colour at Trematon Castle]

It fills me with pleasure to lie in the morning half asleep looking at Dennis Wirth Miller’s swooshy green swathes of paint entitled Dartmoor and Deli Lycett Green’ ‘s livid and gargantuan green cabbage. It’s all frightfully nineteen fifties with David Vicary’s smudgey sulphurous painting of Old Wardour Castle showing the Lane brothers grotto abstracted, and then the properly abstract aubergine, blue and pink the Robert McBride my mother bought long long ago.

It is all about associations, both in your head and each object with another, a conversation of sorts, chattering back in time. 

‘Mr. Maitland as Captain Diego’ in the bedroom at Ashington Manor: one of Julian’s ‘glitter pictures’ of famous actors, which were something you could make yourself from a kit in the 19th century, a sort of cut out and keep Hello magazine. In the way of Pollacks theatres, cheaply printed, you coloured them yourself and perked up by adding glitter and stamped metal pieces. I worry they will fade in the relentless sun. ‘They weren’t made for museums, they were made to be enjoyed!’ he rebuffs me, and he is right.

Ephemeral above all, flowers are the dernier crie in any room. [Trematon]

My mother first and later Candida, David Vicary and Christopher Gibbs were the master magicians of the huge branch bunches.

This I am happy and lucky to leave to Mr B, with whom I would be unwise to compete.

Bannermandesign.com
Isabel Bannerman is the author of Landscape of Dreams,(2016)  and  Scent Magic (Pimpernel Press, 2019
 

[All photographs copyright Isabel and Julian Bannerman/bibleofbritishtaste. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.]

 

I started trailing the designer Susanna White because of a lamp shade. It was a tall cone printed with ‘Hunters,’ the dashing repeat design of a man and woman on horseback drawn by her grandmother Joan Evelyn Thomson – aka J.E.T. ‘Hunters’ is entirely distinctive and remains my strong favourite among the stand out patterns that launched Whiteworks in 2017 – Susanna’s design partnership with her husband John – now operating from a jewel box of a little showroom on a corner of London’s Pimlico Road.

Joan Evelyn Thomson studied at art schools in Paris and Vienna in the 30s, modelled for the fashion house Worth and then fell in with the Bloomsbury Group, posing for her artist-friend Edward Wolfe who was working for the Omega Workshop. Post-war she produced these patterns of startling originality for the silk and textile supremo Zika Ascher, whose stable of artist-designers included Matisse, Cecil Beaton, Ivon Hitchens and Henry Moore. She counted Ravilious and Graham Green among her friends, married more than once, hung out with the Beatles and the Maharishi and took up Transcendental Meditation. Her designs were forgotten until Susanna found them in an old folio in a chest of drawers in her father’s house in 2014.

Susanna brought her experience in interior design to develop the JET collection of wallpapers and fabrics and makes beautiful use of them in the house in Gloucestershire that she built with her husband. It’s based on a ‘provincial merchant with ideas above station and no pocket to match and no below stairs servicing conceits….  and a house called Honnington that is a marvel,’  she says. It’s still a work in progress, unpatinated. But, ‘the best thing was that a friend bought her aged Mother with Alzheimer’s, who wandered round the garden saying she had ‘been here before’.’

For the bibleofbritishtaste she writes about Living with her Design Heroes, the makers and artists she constantly refers to herself. ‘ I like the premise that Syrie Maugham had painted everything white and the new wave pushed in with pattern and chintz. It struck a chord.,’ she wrote to me. ‘For all the talk about pattern and colour, people are still feeling super attached to grey and mushroom tones – I remember reading in a magazine that a room had been painted in 38 different shades of white… ‘
~ NOW READ ON ~

By Susanna White.

For the last 10 years John and I have been building a house and a garden. We knocked down a 1970’s prefabricated building and replaced it with a classical, one room thick, neo-Georgian dolls house with the surprise blessing of the local planners. It is not everyone’s cup of tea but it has been a complete privilege to draw on the influence of Design Heroes, while experiencing the endless choices and accidents that make up our house, not least the influence of the makers and robust interpretation on their part in producing a house from an C18th pattern book with (scant) broadband and C21st trimmings.  A multitude of influences have contributed to create our interior and I have with great difficulty chosen to focus on a significant few, who I think are anchors to the whole.

MARTHE ARMITAGE

I love to imagine some intrigued expert scraping away layers of history hundreds of years hence and being rewarded finally with fragments of the original papers. What a privilege and what a responsibility – Marthe Armitage was an obvious must.

Guest bedroom in Marthe Armitage wallpaper,  Chiswick House in green.

ADELPHI PARAKEETS AND PEARLS

Marthe was (and still is) represented by Hamilton Weston and it was here that I accidentally bumped into Adelphi’s work, whom HW were also representing at the time. 

Guest room in Adelphi Parakeets and Pearls with Aubusson and Patchwork

I love our ‘Parakeets and Pearls” an C18th French design in a custom Parma-Violet colour, almost more than life itself. I was so excited to find the paper hung in the latest Woodhouse dining room in the recent film adaptation of “Emma” in the original salmon pink and green document colours complimented by heavy swagged curtains dripping with fine passementerie.

A flower painting by my great uncle Malcolm Milne, who studied at the Slade under Tonks.

JET AND EDWARD WOLFE

As we built the house, Jet’s designs were still lying undiscovered in a drawer, it was unimaginable then that we would be pasting the designs of this singular Grandmother onto walls.

Tree Bough wallpaper by JET

Tree Bough

Sailor portrait by Wolfe, bedroom

Teddy Wolfe, was Jet’s great mucker, a rather flamboyant RA who had worked with Duncan Grant in The Omega workshop and been billeted with Jet and her first husband in Dorset during the war with his aged Mother, and his work features throughout the house.

Portrait sketch of JET by Wolfe

Wolfe painted Jet many times with and without clothes on. We recently found this rather odd drawing of her by Wolfe in a dusty South London auction house, she, reposed in middle age with sturdy shoes, tweed skirt and no top on.

Priscilla Kennedy tile mosaic and Hunters wallpaper by JET, guest bathroom.
 
Who knew that 25 years after her death, my grandmother’s forgotten work would become such a great influence on me.  Her vision has subverted my taste away from the classical fluttering pretties and palette of the English Country House movement to another between and post war era embracing the different cultural European influences of Moore, Matisse, Sutherland and Picasso, although my passion for John Fowler remains firm.

AUBUSSON

My Mother would have described our motley collection of Aubussons as “going-home,” splitting, threadbare and stained.

S J Whiteworks's Design Heroes: Cecil Beaton, J.E.T. and Marthe Armitage.

The big one in the drawing room with faded, browning, blousy blooms came from a house in Norfolk by way of friend and Independent Art Adviser, Charles Bingham-Newland. It was reported that the modest proceeds were deployed to help restoration of “the good one”. Muddy dogs naturally gravitate towards this canine friendly floor cloth and wine and coffee is regularly spilt without guilt or remorse

BEATON AND SPRY

Some of the elements of the house are period, found in strange reclamation yards. Since the outside is made of stone, we wanted fireplaces of wood.

Drawing Room fireplace, centre carving formerly at Beaton’s country house, Redditch.

Nick Gifford-Meade, then in Pimlico had the shelf of a chimney piece carved with a favourite motif of basket of flowers, around which we built our drawing room fireplace and was rumoured to have belonged to Cecil Beaton. Years later we found a photograph recording the chimney piece in Beaton’s bedroom at Redditch.

At certain times of the year, the late West light directly illuminates the treasured carved surface and hits the ghost of his careless fingerprint left.

S J Whiteworks's Design Heroes: Cecil Beaton, J.E.T. and Marthe Armitage.

Above the C18th century version of a basket of flowers is often a C20th version by Constance Spry, a comparatively shrewish, ‘hands on hip’ shape of vessel demanding notice, spilling over with seasonal clippings from the garden.

DIANA REYNELL

Grotto expert, Diana Reynell made the chandelier in the dining room.


A beautiful and fragile octogenarian arrived with her electrician and two other young men, who pushed her up onto a scaffold, as she, in a finely enunciated voice, whispered “I think this is my swan song”, humorous, as bird form had been the inspiration of her design.

Dining Room

So we cohabit with these Design Heroes  of ours – friendly presences who dispel some of the loneliness during this period of enforced introspection  – focussing on a few, making a chain of memories, of times, people and skills, that root us into our  strange new situation. Thank goodness we do not live in an uber cool, perfectly chic, award winning monastic space, as that would send me to the madhouse just now.

All thanks to Susanna (who wrote this) and John White of Whiteworks Group.  The Jet Collection is online and at JET and Co, 20A Pimlico Road, Belgravia.

[All photographs copyright Whiteworks/bibleofbritishtaste. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.]

It’s four weeks now since we’ve been here, down in Dorset. I’d say a couple of weeks ago the house got very tidy indeed. Everyone in the country, housebound and feeling helpless, went on a massive spring clean. We were no exception. It was a distraction to fear and sadness; in the world of an invisible killer it felt like a sensible defence.

But I’m glad to say that two weeks on, we’ve calmed down a bit, and are realising that our cleaning lady Anne’s view of dust (that if you carry on dusting the dust carries on coming back) has pretty powerful logic to it. So now the house has that nice gentle relaxed feeling to it of it being lived in for weeks and weeks in a row for the first time, literally, in nearly two decades. My predecessors at the Old Parsonage were hardly ever here except in the holidays; we’re here almost every week, but in normally in London for some of that time too. A house takes on a different feel when it is permanently occupied. A couple of years ago we came down here for a month in the summer, a record that will be overtaken this week. And how strange our flat in London must feel, shut up, curtains drawn, deserted, empty; at the top of an empty building in an empty Square…

So there is something idyllic in the lockdown situation, yet which makes one feel a bit guilty too… guilty for being surrounded by wide green open spaces where we walk every day, guilty for not really being touched by the sense of chaos, or indeed, hell on earth, that we know that some people and some families are going through. Guilty at being in a tiny backwater in a quiet part of Dorset in what must feel like the most beautiful warm spring in years.

Curiously too the days have been hurtling by; we start with a long walk, early; breakfast, then I start work – a half-hour lunch and then sometimes I’ve been emerging at 7 or 8 in the evening, before starting again. So Easter – four days off, with nothing happening – has been strangely needed and yet almost listless, empty, senseless by comparison. Charlie has been working incredibly hard in the garden, and getting his chickens in, and incubating a dozen runner duck and chicken eggs which are due to hatch in ten days. We’ve been going to bed strangely early, sleeping either incredibly soundly or having fretful, fitful nights depending on the pull of the moon and night fears and worries. Either way, the dawn chorus and our early walk has been a huge restorer.

Today, I’ve taken a few photographs of the Parsonage on an astonishingly bright afternoon – the air is clear, the sun is brilliant, the wind is cold – to just show a few of the rooms here.  I’ve lived here now since 2008; five years ago, Charlie and I were married, and the house became ours not mine. So much nicer that way. Twelve years is a long time in one building, in a way; long enough for walls to get faded where you haven’t had pictures hanging; for rugs and furniture to bleach to paleness if they are too close to the huge south-facing windows where the sun streams in all day long. I like that.

And slowly, ever so slowly, the house has filled up and up with our stuff. It’s more than stuff really, it’s collections, it’s all sorts of things. Last October, when we moved to Scotland, to a tiny bothy on the far West Coast (the first house I’ve ever bought in my life) there was a massive clear our and a whole huge truckload of stuff moved up there. The Parsonage breathed a little sigh of relief, and stretched its limbs… but filled up again; with some of my parents’ bits and pieces, with more treasures discovered on our early morning rounds of the Saturday morning market in Bridport, or bought, every now and again, at auction. 

In no particular order; kitchen stuff; including Charlie’s latest collection – daffodils – which are completely beautiful and extraordinary this year.  Next to the Fridge is our annual ‘men in kilts’ Christmas calendar.  We’ve collected Staffordshire pottery for years. It’s all over the house. Charlie’s china cupboards – well, some of the china was mine already, but it’s on another whole level now.

I’ve moved my office into the dining room for the time being. It’s proved to be a beautiful, peaceful room to work. The walls are lined with one half of my collection of Piranesi engravings (the other half is in London); the trestle table in the window has part of Charlie’s collection of geraniums.

The drawing room hasn’t changed very much over the years; the walls used to be pale grey, and about 8 years ago now I decided to paint it a pale pink specially mixed for me by Patrick Baty and now sold as ‘Parsonage Pink’.  I’ll be honest – I have been contemplating a change in here now, but let’s see.  

Piles of books are everywhere. My favourite piles are on the bookshelf behind the yellow sofa (by my friend Max Rollitt), most of which we’ve bought over many years at the brilliant Bridport Old Books, run by Rose and Caroline. 

One half of a collection of Fern prints is above the piano (the other half is in London).

The bedroom is filled with stuff, but collections-wise, the bookcase has part of my collection of King Penguins and old Batsfords.

The guest room next door has a Staffordshire dogs without their pairs, and a pair of Staffordshire Rabbits that we bought in Bridport last year. And part of the collection of Peter Hones (the rest you’ll see in a bit).

The landings have my collections of old geological maps and piles and piles of worlds of interiors, and a pair of cased fish that are destined for Scotland but have no home there, and a collection of coloured glass in the windowsill of the old oval window that overlooks the steps to the front door…

The guest bedroom I painted this sludgy dark green at the same time as the room downstairs went pink. It faces west and in the evening the sun glows here. 

There are two paintings by my Cornish ancestor, Richard Thomas Pentreath – the one above the fireplace Charlie and I found at Portobello.

The dark green Staffordshire dogs in this room are rather special finds. And part of Charlie’s geranium collection has gone wild in the bathroom.

In our bathroom is our collection of harvest mugs.

Well, I’ve gone a bit mad really with harvest mugs. I think we’ll redecorate this bathroom soon, it needs to be a bit more fun, like the gloss yellow walls that we decided to paint the kitchen a couple of years ago.

From the landing is a little passage, top lit, that leads to what used to be called the Village Room.

Years and years ago, when I was about 8, my best friend lived in the old Parsonage. It’s a house I’ve literally known since the 70s. This room was his playroom. We spent hours in here.  For a while I had it set up as an office. It was a beautiful room but the internet and phone line didn’t work there at all so I gave it up. It became a store and then a few years ago Charlie turned it into his flower room.

We installed an old Belfast sink with a single cold tap (we couldn’t get a hot water feed to that wall). 

And now, it too has shifted in emphasis, or mood – when a year or two ago, we bought three huge Edwardian museum cases for a song at a junk auction in London. They just fitted.

 And are now crammed with Charlie’s and my ever-growing collection of bits of china. 

And other things.   The cabinet of rosettes, dating back to the 50s and 60s, was my Christmas present to Charlie two years ago, bought from Drew Pritchard.

Long Live the Queen is the banner that hangs in the window of the flower room. It’s been there for a long time, but has never, ever felt more vital a message in the strange, desolate, sad, happy, unsettling yet strangely peaceful moment that we find ourselves in.

[All photographs copyright Ben Pentreath/bibleofbritishtaste. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.]

To mark April’s Renaissance, the bibleofbritishtaste presents new stories and themes. Some are being commissioned from generous and talented friends. But these are not them. Today’s story is an amuse gueule from its archives of thousands of pictures of things and houses and people that have never yet seen the light of day. Here are a few dozen randomly chosen pictures that pleased me for all sorts of reasons, Proustian, decorative or showing the rooms and houses where I’ve been happiest. First past the post is the guest bathroom at the Old Parsonage in Little Bredy, with Charlie McCormick”s Cheeseplant-sized pelagonium descending from the table and stacks of gardening magazines beneath. Mavis the Labrador headbutts the bedroom door in the morning and all three dogs cascade into the room. Ben Pentreath’s complete collection of copies of The World of Interiors lines the spine corridor outside.

Breakfast in the kitchen, an egg or toast or just a giant ‘moustache-cup’ of tea. There are always flowers.

Where Sussex meets Hampshire there’s a house like an illustration from a Beatrix Potter story, high up under a beech hanger, all made out of old things and marvellous architectural salvage. Sparrow’s Hanger belongs to Alastair Langlands and its insides were put together with panelling and joinery saved from the careless demolitions in the 20s and 30s by his antiquary father in law’s family, as a picturesque weekend bolt-hole.

The kitchen remains utilitarian and unembellished except for a gallery of family photographs and is all the better for that.

Alastair’s sitting-cum-drawing room has a delicious-looking shortbread tin by the wood burner but it probably contains only matches and firelighters. The paint colours were his late father in law’s, ‘but I relish them very much.’ Sparrow’s Hanger was also published in The World of Interiors – I wrote the story and @antonycrolla took superb pictures but I cannot discover exactly when.

Here is Antony Crolla again, photographing the ancient stones of Shulbrede Priory under a light mizzle. Shulbrede is about 10 minutes off from Sparrow’s Hanger as the crow flies and rather in the same line of country, i.e. unmodernised, in this case, for centuries. It is the surviving corner of the rather obscure religious house of Wlenchmere, founded at the end of the twelfth century and suppressed by Henry VIII in the 1530s. It’s one of my very favourites on the bibleobritishtaste

This is the old house in Georgian Spitalfields where architectural historians Will and Eloise Palin’ lived before little Rose and Albert were born. Will impulse-bought this scrap screen one day in Marlborough when we were on works outing to the printer who produced the Soane Museum’s exemplary exhibition catalogues and restored the missing elements of its original panelling.

The rather brilliant half-panelling in designer Julia de Pauley’s (Regency) Bridport townhouse looks 1920s and was probably left in dark wood or deal when it was put up. The picture rail is a brilliantly versatile invention, the chandelier one of the best that I know. Julia is a discriminating chooser with beyond-impeccable taste.

White-panelled rooms with unfussy wall treatments : Wolterton Park, the Palladian prodigy house in Norfolk belonging to Peter Sheppard and Keith Day. The walls would once have been stretched with a patterned silk damask fixed up with gilt filets. Everyone really likes the way they look now, revealed in their C18th flat lead paint that was never meant to be seen and the empty nail holes.

For quite a few years landscape gardeners Julian and Isabel Bannerman lived at Trematon Castle  on the Devon/Cornwall borders, in a Regency house shaped like a butter pat built inside the castle walls, where they made a paradise garden on an epic scale.  I tried to stay there as often as possible, diverting left on my way to Lamorna at the other end of Cornwall. We often went to bed at 9.30. I felt more at home there than I do at home. Isabel took this photo. She knows everything about plants and her  new book is Scent Magic, (Pimpernell Press).

 

I only had a go in this lovely Trematon bedroom one Christmastime, the curtains are vintage Bakers, probably early 90s and one day, Isabel might sell them to me.

This is a throwback to about 9 years ago, the Bannerman’s leaving garden party for their house that came house before Trematon, Hanham Court near Bath. Laura Ashley’s granddaughters wore vintage Laura Ashley and looked best of all.

Here is the downstairs / Gents. lavatory at Trematon, near the front door.  Because of this proximity it always housed a lot of outdoor stuff, coats and boots, like the wardrobe of C..S. Lewis fame as well as many china frogs. Writing her book on cold winter mornings, Isabel used to retreat to the ‘Hons.’ -style airing cupboard upstairs to sit near to the hot pipes.

That lavatory green reminds me of this one, an upper floor guest bathroom in the house where Domenica Moore-Gordon and Charlie Fletcher live along with her mother Marianne More Gordon [nee Thompson-McCauseland], another talented maker, near Edinburgh.

And here is the bedroom adjacent to the one where I slept peacefully. The sheets, lace edged pillowslips and everything else were the most exquisitely pressed.

This is the little master bedroom in the Suffolk country house of painter and trompe l’oeil artist Alan Dodd. Everything you see here was designed and executed by him.

And the Botallack Moor bedroom of dearest Rose Hilton who died last year. I gave her the mosque alarm clock which wakes you up with the piercing call to prayer, the birthday card was painted by her husband Roger Hilton.

This was her Newlyn painting studio – once a Victorian school room – to which she drove cross-country, early every morning. She made some of her best and biggest paintings here.

Min Hogg, founder-editor of The World of Interiors. She commissioned this bedroom scheme of hand painted rose wallpaper from Timner Wollard; ‘She used to do rooms sets and backdrops for us [at WOI], and then she and I concocted it together. That’s the best bit there, [in the right-hand corner next to the bed head], that’s before her boyfriend told her they weren’t going to Paris.’

And her sitting/dining/ room of all usefulness. In a week or two her niece Molly Alexander will be writing about Min, her decorating and her wonderful eye in these pages. Min prized this little needlepoint cushion stitched by her mother…

And here are the swankier Library sofa cushions from the needle of Lady Violet Powell, nee Pakenham, at The Chantry in Somerset-shire. Sitting here she edited the manuscripts of her husband’s epic novel sequence, A Dance to the Music of Time.

Wardington Manor Oxfordshire, home to Bridget Elworthy of The Land Gardeners and her family, limed oak library bookshelves designed for the manor’s bibliophile former owner.

Doddington in Kent where the gardens are usually open to the public, the entrance hall with its Tudorbethan salvaged panelling and Amicia de Moubray, writer, gardener and co-founder of Faversham Life.

Down in the Mile End Road, once upon a time, Tim Knox and Todd Longstaffe Gowan bought a spectacular great house that had languished unloved for a century. There was a moving-in party in the cavernous ground floor, a cement floored car exhaust fitting workshop with discarded exhaust pipes rattling underfoot. This was the upstairs bathroom,  Tim’s mother’s Sanderson-fabric-covered armchair in the huge bathroom, memorials to the Victorian dead: cut-paper memento mori.

Back to my place. One of three car boot sale Dolls houses  I gave my daughter Georgie when she was little because I had always wanted one myself. This was the most ordinary, a 4 room Surrey mock-broker job, probably made by Chad Valley. I regret selling it tho. I like the way that the dolls look so ‘done in.’

Sitting room at my place with large ashtray. and Habitat lamps

Bedroom and Kenneth Rowntree’s large sub-Cubist nude for which his wife modelled, bought in absentia and in lieu of the one I most wanted at the auction of his studio. I admire this artist very much,  most of all  for his Pop-inspired landscape paintings with cows and traffic signs. The painting has since moved to a side wall.

Little dressing room, Marthe Armitage hand-bocked wallpaper.

Hall. One of my pair of Prince of Wales tomato soup Investiture chairs designed by Lord Snowdon and lightly gnawed by Bunny the lurcher when she was an anxious puppy.

Quite a different thing. The New Club in Edinburgh. Which I long to photograph and publish properly but their charming club secretary is not sure the members would care for it.

More of the New Club. When first rebuilt the wallpaper here was dark Paisley patterned, I’d so like to have seen that.

Corner of the downstairs Sitting Room of neoclassical architect George Saumarez Smith in Winchester, a truly lovely house which is evolving al the time. It’s in this week’s issue of Country Life too.

A Bunny hop to three of the many books illustrated by consummate aesthete and artist Glynn Boyd Harte. One was written by our friends Teresa and Auberon Waugh but these are here because right now, we’re probably all thinking about food much more than we do ordinarily?

Kitchen dresser of Glynn’s great friend and collaborator the painter and author Ian Archie Beck, his copain from les Freres Pervertes. Ian drew the Yellow Brick Road album cover for Elton John and he has written and illustrated dozens of books; these shelves hold Eric Ravilious’s Wedgwood china and little coffee cans printed with motifs from the repertoire of his late father-in-law, the engraver and artist Reynolds Stone.

One of Alan Dodd’s packed china closets, I’m not sure if he ever gets to the crocks at the very back

And one of a pair of china cupboards belonging to my distinguished friend the designer and decorator Virginia White.

Alan Dodd has lovely things but this picture is to show the printed linen designed by George Gilbert Scott for the Houses of Parliament, stretched on the walls of this spine corridor. There is also a compartmentalised, oak-grained ceiling that alludes to Sir Walter Scott’s ‘Romantic’ interiors at Abbotsford. His taxidermy collection pre-dates the current vogue by decades.

David Bridgwater invited me to his town house in Bath about a year before he moved on, to a big old place in the country that he’s restoring ( the pictures are on instagram). This was his sort of inner sanctum, a room in which you covet everything, its chimneypiece arrangement reminding me of John Soane’s. A few months later I bought one thing that I’d seen here and couldn’t stop thinking about, a bashed up gesso and papier-mache overmantle frieze panel of game birds, a fox, hare and hound. I haven’t got a fire surround worthy of it yet.

Another inner sanctum, the business room of  Capt. Nigel Thimbleby whose impossibly old house of Wolfeton lies in West Dorset, hard on the flanks of the new Duchy of Cornwall town of Poundbury. I found everything about this house and its owner sympathetic and wonderful but could never persuade any magazine editor to feature it in their pages.

A bit more to the east of Dorset above the crumbly shale and fossil-rich cliffs of Kimmeridge is Smedmore House belonging to Philip Mansel, author and historian, one of the cleverest and most sophisticated men that I know. Smedmore has its origins in the C12th and has descended to its present owner by marriage or  inheritance, in other words, it has never been sold. Gervase Jackson-Stops helped Philip to decorate this room in the 80s. Philip tolerantly let me rummage the china and linen cupboards to half-set the dining table for our shoot for The World of Interiors. Ever since pictures of this room were published legions of decorators have suddenly ‘rediscovered’ the wonder of plates on walls.

And back to Wolterton in Norfolk, dear to my heart, not least because its  generous and tolerant owners have commissioned me to write the book of the house, and I’ll be writing about it here too in the next week or two. This is a snap of the office from which the ongoing work of restoring the house is accomplished, Keith Day has done one of his swift, random, transitory hangs assembling all the small and miscellaneous notices and photographs from about the house and cellars. By the time I get back there again it will probably have vanished and dispersed for ever.

 

All photographs copyright bibleofbritishtaste. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to bibleofbritishtaste, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Romi Behrens, b.1939, who lived at Prussia Cove in West Cornwall, belonged to no school of art and received no formal painting tuition

Romi grew up, very happily, riding donkeys, in the idyllic surroundings of the vicarage at Ramsbury, Wiltshire. She had deep musical and Anglican roots, her mother, a cellist, was the daughter of Sir Walter Alcock, knighted for playing the organ at three coronations. Her father was Canon Humphrey Hall, brother of the bishop of Hong Kong. These words are taken from the funeral address given by her son Peter Behrens on March 21st 2019.

Expelled from boarding school, she had gone to stay with her Uncle Giles, a doctor with a Penzance practice. Picking apples in an orchard at Prussia Cove she fell for the farmer Michael Tunstall-Behrens. They married in 1959, eight days after her 20th birthday and she moved into his grandfather’s house here.

These raw plaster and part-panelled rooms with their muddles and stacks of pictures and beautiful, useful things are in the old farmhouse of Trewartha where she and Michael lived from 1995 and she continued to live after his death

Mike asleep, 1993. ‘I started painting when I got married,’ she told me. ‘I came back from shopping and out came tea, butter, sugar, and six paints’ Her lovely speaking voice was low, even and rather exact. For emphasis, when something was exciting, it rose to a joyful shout.

‘I went to learn painting from Julie Reid at Porthcurno. The first week, I did a still life and Mike’s brother stole it. The third week I said, ‘How do you know what I want to paint?’ She said, ‘Romi, I don’t think that you should come any more. You should do it yourself. ‘ So that was my 3 lessons! Wasn’t that sensible of her?’

China Dogs III.

the first painting studio and the dog  – named Alleluia – that appears sleeping in a quick charcoal sketch found in her studio in 2019

I should have shown you more interesting paintings, etchings, drawings, linocuts and introduced you to the wonderful Toucan [she wrote to me in a letter dated, ‘Hopefully sent, 26th.’]. I must have done him about 50 times. This is how I came by him. Going up the arcade steps in PZ, I found a woman outside her junk shop in floods of tears. I asked her what was wrong? ‘BANK MANAGER.’ What can we do?’ BUY something.’ I went in and my heart completely sank. There was nothing I could see I wanted to buy until  – from the very back of the shop the toucan winked at me and squawkd, ‘Get me out of here.’ So for £30 I did in a paper bag… when Patrick Heron saw it and asked how much he said add At LEAST a couple of noughts. Well he has certainly paid for himself ! The toucan is above, centre.

Romi’s son and daughter, Peter and Emily, double portrait

Dog? Tom.

The long sitting room, profile sketch of Romi’s friend Patrick Heron

She had little interest in material things  and no idea of the value of money – stabbing in the dark at a figure of ‘twenty thousand AT LEAST!’ for one of her best paintings…But it pained her to part with her pictures at any price; she might agree to a sale then maddeningly change her mind and actually stole one back.

‘Guitar, that’s been drawn hundreds and hundreds of times,’ miraculously saved from a skip (seen in the previous image)

Sofa, banked up by canvases. The indigo blue picture on the back wall was painted by  Jeremy le Grice

About the house. I should have showed you the cobbles outside the front door. And thinking of Mr and Mrs Andrewartha and their children [Trewartha’s earlier occupants]. He was very short and wore a very tall bowler hat (apparently). Of course this was way before our time. He kept pigs, wonderful animals, and was a Methodist lay minister. I know it is his spirit and probably his wife’s that makes this house so peaceful.

Life on a small farm with cottages for rent was all about helping with the cows and making loose covers (NOT EASY!) These were dreamy days when you could leave a baby outside in a pram and drive to the flicks, worried only that you had forgotten to attach the cat net [from the funeral address given by Peter Behrens last year.]

Old House. ‘Oh that’s lovely! I haven’t seen that for ages.’

Cobbles and her quick, eloquent sketch of Alleluia the dog in her early studio photo, found amongst paintings stored in the barn.

At Trewartha, the greenhouse-cum-porch outside the front door. ‘Velvet’, her quick little black spaniel bitch formerly known as ‘Velvet Puppy’ was always faithfully about, keeping a watch out for visitors. Our friendship of  only two or three years duration was  a flawless one, Romi was exuberant and funny, stubborn and outspoken, interesting and interested in people, a committed Anglican, a writer of letters and lists and keen on Radio 4 . Once she had made up her mind I quickly graduated from ‘Very dear Ruth’ to ‘Darling Ruth’ when she wrote.

To her, selling pictures merely confirmed her unshakeable belief in her work ‘Isn’t that AMAZING?’ and ‘Look at THIS one!’ She was particularly good at table top still lifes, Panettone boxes and birthday cakes.

‘Donkeys! I want two donkeys here!’ she said

Bedroom, sketch pads, art books, hot water bottle, and  portraits of her grandchildren

Spare bedroom, another picture store

Spare bedroom. Romi’s painting style was spontaneous and dashing, something she attributed to meting out her time having children, being married to a farmer, letting holiday cottages, playing the violin and more

‘The map – I just suddenly thought  – I’ll do it – And  Oskar Kokoshkar said it,’  she added, mysteriously.

Spare bedroom

‘Tom and his sister – or mother’ – named Hewitt, after the tennis player Lleyton Hewitt

‘The house? – I think its in Helston – done in about 1960, I was painting only long white buildings then’

label on reverse of the painting above

Studio barn, working space upstairs and painting store below

Upstairs

‘John Dory.For sure I ate it. It didn’t take that long, 45 minutes at most.’

postcard-sized paintings

Three mugs

The giant homage to Panettone that became The Last Supper – a semi-devotional work – painted on a huge stretched canvas from the studio of her friend Patrick Heron

Panettone boxes and birthday cake, from the Newlyn Gallery’s 2017 group show

Paint table and Salvator Mundi painting with the Lord’s Prayer, just seen

The Nude in Painting

Newlyn harbour, looking towards st Michael’s Mount

Sketch book, one of many dozens

A picture store, including her very first portrait, Man with Flat Cap, bottom right.

Rebecca reading Rebecca, 1973. ‘There’s a lovely story of how I got that painting: Mike left Becky and me in the middle of lambing, so we went out to look. One had just had one. And Becky said, She’s going to have another, I can tell. What are we going to do in the meantime? I’ll finish my book.
I’ll paint you reading it. And it was Rebecca!’

Romi showed her work at the Arnolfini Gallery, Leighton House, The Royal Cornwall Museum, Cadogan Contemporary, the Michael Parkin Gallery, the Rebecca Hossack Gallery and the Newlyn Art Gallery. One of her pictures was selected for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and she was a life member of the Newlyn Society of Artists.

Many more are stored in her studio at Trewartha, family, friends, nudes, a famous musician or author, the High Sheriff, a policeman or fisherman and someone whose name she couldn’t remember simply  labelled ‘Hitch Hiker’.

An impromptu monoprinting session in the kitchen with brand new friend Ben Sanderson from the Cornubian Arts and Science Trust / C.A.S.T.

Kitchen windowsill

Windowsill gallery

Kitchen with chocolate Easter rabbit.

Romi Tunstall-Behrens, 1939-2019.

She died on Ash Wednesday, at her old studio which she dubbed ‘The First and Last’ overlooking the orchard where she met her husband Mike 63 years ago.

https://romibehrens.co.uk/

 

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I’ve called on Peter Hone in his Notting Hill studio flat a few times recently

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It’s always a huge pleasure.

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He offers coffee and some breakfast.

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The pink and white striped tablecloth is always scrupulously clean, but on my last visit ‘tho the cups were out and the French windows were open, there was nobody about.

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After hanging around for a bit, at last I went outside onto the balcony. A few hundred yards off Peter was ‘exercising’ his terrier Basil in the communal gardens.

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Peter is a Master-Plaster-Caster, the only one of his kind. Now he does bespoke commissions and sells some more via Pentreath and Hall’s Rugby Street shop. He used to make exquisitely coloured resin plaques as well that Marianna Kennedy sold in Spitalfields, my favourite the violet coloured Hercules tondo propped against his window. People make appointments to call on him here all the time, to buy and commission pieces or just to marvel at it all and take his photograph, like me.

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During my visits he described his past life as a a custodian of historic buildings, antique dealer and then a fabricator in plaster and occasionally, coloured resin,  in his own very vivid words. ‘I came here in 1961. I’ve been here over 50 years.A friend of mine said, ‘Oh my friend Mary, she’s moving from her flat, why don’t you come and look at it? It was 7 shillings and 6d a week. I took it.

I was working in the zoo serving the fellows, Sir Solly Zuckerman and the man who was the Naked Ape man, what’s his name? [Desmond Morris] Luncheon, and functions in the evening when they would bring animals up for people to look at, it was very nice!’

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Peter with Basil his irrepressible terrier. ‘How do you like my beard? It’s five days old, I thought when I’m brown, the white, it looks good on the brown, and it goes with the interior. It’s marvelous really, I’m a very lucky person, the fact is that I’ve got this aptitude for learning and remembering things and I’ve got a natural calmness and unflappability.

Unlike Basil.’

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‘I worked for the department of the environment, didn’t I? In the Banqueting House in Whitehall, in the Jewel Tower, in Westminster Abbey, Chiswick House. As a custodian. I had a hat with a silver crown on it and a suit like a policeman’s suit with silver buttons with crowns on it and epaulettes and things like that. Nobody ever went to the Banqueting House, to Chiswick House. That was in between when I had my own shops in Camden Passage.’

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‘I was working at Clifton Nurseries, Lord Rothschild’s place. I was running the garden antiques department for him, I designed it.

We used to sit there at the big table. The fireplace we sat in front of was designed by Lutyens. We got all the things at country house sales. I’d been doing it for 20, 30 years before that, I’d had three shops in Camden Passage, we did all beds, Christopher [Gibbs} was there, he had a little stall in the carpet shop, he was in his jelaba and sandals. Then the shop closed, the lease came to an end, I closed the business and went to work for English Heritage at the Banqueting House, Chapter House, Jewel Tower, Chiswick House.

I drove on my bicycle round them all, because it was only part time. It was MARVELOUS, £75 a week in the hand!’

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Young Peter, raving beauty soaking up antiquity.

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‘It’s not crammed with stuff any more, it’s as I want it, grisaille. It’s my Brexit moment. I’d been building up a collection for 45 years you see. As long as we’d been in the EU, the moment we were leaving they all had to go. Ive got British Worthies in the hall, did you see?’

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‘The leaves – of Acanthus and Gunnera – are wonderful, and of course each is a one off.’

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‘When they had my sale, they had a sale that was following and I bought the Turkish turban. [an Ottoman grave marker] It never sold, I bought it after the sale, it’s about 1800 I suppose. It’s on a Roman base, I got it from a skip in Clifton nurseries, they stripped a garden out and they chucked it all out. It’s rose violette marble.’

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‘I was making plaster casts for Clifton Nurseries and I was making them for myself. When I left there, retired, I made plaster casts for Jeanette Winterson’s girlfriend. I used to see them when they had the house together in Oxfordshire and she was doing her book on Sappho, I said, I’ve got a plaque with Sappho’s head on it, so I made one for her and she was so thrilled and everybody ordered it, so I started making plaster casts of my own, 87, or something like that.’

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‘Miranda Rothschild moved in next door, and she said, You know my brother Jacob (before he was elevated to the peerage) is looking for someone to open the shop? I said, I’m quite happy on my bike, I don’t want to go into antiques any more, it was LOVELY. I’m not ambitious you know!’

He asked again, he said, What’s the matter with him, is he alcoholic? Third time round I said, Come and see me in my flat.We had a fire in those days, and the great bed from Mereworth Castle and the great Wright of Derby. We had tea. It was to take over from my friend Janet Shand Kydd. We sat over there, he said that’s a nice picture is a copy?’

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‘When I came to this house in 1961 I was 21.No one knows where I was born! There was a piece in the Telegraph or the Times commenting on the sale in 2016 that said I’d been found in basket in an orphanage. It was vaguely true. In Rochdale. I was born wonderful.’ 

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‘Everyone thinks my hands should be arthritic by now,but they’re not. They’re wonderful hands!’

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‘My philosophy is to put big things in small spaces and small things in big places. I think it’s MARVELOUS! Otherwise you’ve got to bank it like this.’ He got the lovely shell pink on these white linen slip covers by washing them with an old crimson velvet cushion.

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‘This stuff, it’s from the Countess of Portarlington, it was huge flags, banners, I got it at a sale. I had it hanging right across this room, I made it into this blind that’s been up there 40 years.’

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‘Good job I’m here to guide you Ruth!’

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The World of Interiors ‘did’ Peter in September 1994, James Mortimer took the photographs and Alistair McAlpine supplied the text. This is his set of rooms crammed with treasures, before the recent Christie’s sale.

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‘I made that chair, I had the paws and just put it together. The arms and the side frame bit, the paws, were there, they were in a garage off the Marylebone Road, the store place where this man used to do props for films. The rosettes, lion heads, I cast of course

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The bedroom used to be a sort of garden room and then a kitchen.

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The bedroom ceiling is a work in progress, more panels going up and more leaves coming

The bedroom ceiling is a work in progress, more panels going up and more leaves coming

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That’s Lord Leighton and that’s Augustus John, a more recent acquisition. It’s a study for a lost painting, unfinished, you can see there’s just a cat sitting there in the folds of her thing, pencil, crayon, white chalk. On the back where it was folded back to fit into a frame there was a tiny stamp the size of a petit pointe, the initials ‘FAS’. When Leighton died the Fine Art Society sold all his collection of drawings. It’s after Ariadne. There are oleographs of it, I had it under this bed a long, long time. It was bought by Angus and David Bourne from the sale of Ivor Novello in ‘53, sold in a lot of picture frames.Then David gave it to me about 35 years ago.’

I took it to Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Bonhams, they all said, ‘Oh nonono nothing…!’ I was so infuriated I took it round to Leighton House. And they just went bananas. It was on view in Christie’s sale with all of my stuff, they said, ‘We must have it, it’ll be 35,000!’ I said, ‘No you won’t!’

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‘The table in my bedroom, it’s early C18th, probably by – I always forget his name. It’s absolutely marvelous! We’re all on a learning curve here.’

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Acanthus.

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The bedroom in its earlier incarnation, as seen in World of Interiors.

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Bathroom.

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More Bathroom

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Linen cupboard

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Towels and Bromo

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The Hone Collection – Peter’s sale of plaster casts and works of art, held at Christie’s in October 2016. ‘Getting rid of all these things, it’s not going to be the end of the world: it’s the beginning of a new world… A grisaille world.  It’s not going to be minimal here:in fact it will be more than what’s here now, it will be the essence of me, the essence of my love for things,’ he said at the time, anticipating the rooms as they  look now.

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The Trafalgar Urn, a Regency alabaster Warwick Vase commemorating Admiral Nelson, and two sets of plaster reliefs of the C18th and C19th, some in the manner of Robert Adam.

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Peter photographed with Basil, possibly for Hole and Corner magazine.

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The serpentine C18th Hall chair originally designed by William Kent for Lord Burlington’s Chiswick House that Peter found and sold on to English Heritage. The rest of this set were taken by the dukes of Devonshire to Chatsworth House.

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‘They asked me, What is the most unusual thing you’ve ever bought? I said, It’s Camilla Parker Bowles’s bikini. I said, Don’t you print that! And they did. It’s in the cupboard there, its ‘60s. Well, Camilla’s sister is an interior decorator and she was at my sale view.And she said, You did mention my sister, about her bikini? I said, I’m terribly sorry, I’ll be in the Tower! And she said, What’s it like?’

My friends the Edens lived next door to the Parker Bowles’s. They used to sell all their cast-off things for charity on their lawns, Miranda Eden kept it because it was so smart!’

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Grateful thanks to Peter Hone. He says he is going to ‘modernise’ this kitchen one day soon, but he may be teasing.

All photographs copyright bibleofbritishtaste. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to bibleofbritishtaste, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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As some of you will know, architect and designer Ben Pentreath and plantsman, florist and collector Charlie McCormick live for most of the time in a small hamlet in West Dorset, although they have a London life as well. The dogs and their cat Henry live here too, and there has been talk of chickens. The two previous photos show Charlie’s flower room, in what was once Ben’s sort of drawing office, when it was hung with framed architectural designs and cast plaster plaques by Peter Hone. He’d been doing the party flowers for our friend Bridie’s Hall’s birthday in there, before shipping them up to London, mostly dahlias, but with a twist. The house has been photographed quite a few times before, but soon it will be in metamorphosis. Charlie and Ben will be sending stuff up to their new place on the western seaboard of Scotland, so this was a last chance to make a record of its full-up, glorious profusion, ‘as found’ and not tidied.

When I arrived at the Old Parsonage there was a sort of harvest festival cornucopia going on at the front door.

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The whopper  – or possibly its older brother – had been the toast of Dorset, having won Charlie more than one first prize at the local agricultural and flower shows in which he competes vigorously and joyfully each summer.

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Sibyl and Mavis dashed round to join in, Sibyl always getting there first.

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There was one fox glove hanging on. Behind is the little Victorian church where their marriage was blessed.

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The garden was going into its green September plumage (except for the dahlia beds)

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So we had a cup of tea and I began to take pictures ( this one is from my last visit in June or August)

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Charlie was stewing and bottling the apple crop, Ben was absent, working, in London, alas

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I like this gloss yellow that went up in the kitchen at least a year ago. The walls used to be off white, then Farrow and Ball’s Wet Sand. This is better.

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‘Three Classicists,‘ the architectural exhibition put on at the RIBA by Ben, George Saumarez Smith and Francis Terry ( HRH the Prince of Wales wrote the foreword to the exhibition catalogue, I wrote the introduction, it was fun). And the letterpress poster cum invitation for their wedding celebrations, a harvest-home summer feast held in a marquee on the cricket ground a few years back in 2015, followed by the glorious disco. Table flowers were brought by Charlie’s friends Bridget Elworthy and Henrietta Courtauld, aka the Land Gardeners , Live Camels! laid on by Ben

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The china cupboard is groaning

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with a growing hoard

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This lovely horsehair sofa was in Ben’s mum and dad’s house on the Isle of Wight. It transforms the kitchen. But its needed up in their new smallholding in Scotland one day soon.

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Charlie had put his winning certificates up edge to edge and they almost covered the dresser that Ben bought on ebay

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Aga plus washing

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Ben’s baby photo hangs by the door, unmistakable

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next door, the dining room. As Ben describes, when he moved in, the builders stripped buckets of glue from the floorboards. Later the room had a brief moment of being painted an intense 60s purple, Victoria Plum, which divided opinion strongly. Charlie hated it ‘quite rightly,’ so they repainted in this eye-popping Cornflower blue.

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Once a sober temple to the pleasures of the knife and fork, now a marvelous smorgasbord of ceramics bought at auction and from the stalls at Bridport market

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seed harvested from the garden

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Wedgwood and generic candlesticks, a contemporary Ionic column creamware version was reproduced for sale with Pentreath and Hall

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In the stone flagged hall, Mavis was patiently waiting…

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at the bottom of the stairs. Charlie was up there somewhere. The wallpaper is Malahide by David Skinner, based on a C19th original.

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Sibyl was hanging about too

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coyly posing for the camera with her smoochy, kohl-rimmed, young Princess Margaret look

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Together we withdrew to the drawing room where she chewed a stick to matchwood and I carried on

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Yellow sofa from Max Rollitt

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Charlie’s botanical prints, huge vintage kelim cushions. The walls are Parsonage Pink, mixed by that brilliant ex-guardsman Patrick Baty.

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The ottoman loaded with books, Jasper Conran’s iconic Country, Haute Bohemians, Pleasure Garden magazine (Charlie writes for it), The Private Gardens of England and Ben’s excellent second book, English Houses.

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In the window bay the C19th Howard armchair that Ben bought at auction and reupholstered in a blue antique linen by Polly Lyster, with its deep bullion fringe

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Looking towards the hall and kitchen

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Staffordshire china spaniels sit on almost every chimney piece, friendly appealing household gods. The Regency marble chimneypiece is from Jamb.

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More books on the grand piano including Charlie’s albums of pressed seaweed specimens

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More books

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I counted sixteen – sixteen! – units of seating in the drawing room, which seems nicely convivial. Only this one chair was broken, waiting for the menders

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Charlie’s photo album of corgi pin-ups

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My well-thumbed copies of Ben’s books, Three Classicists, English Decoration and English Houses, the latter two have become classics in the canon of ‘ English taste, and ‘how to get the look.’ The Old Parsonage features in both, but in English Houses Ben writes, ‘One of the things that has made me happiest of all is the way in which Charlie has made the Parsonage his own; both in the garden, where he is in the midst of creating an extraordinary work of art that is scented, multi-textured, richly coloured, and in the house, which has never felt so friendly and alive. The Parsonage has  been transformed by becoming a shared space… Charlie has turned the house into our home.’

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Out of the drawing room door and straight into the garden

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Sibyl hurried round and composed for her next shot

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Back inside and upstairs where the oeil de boeuf window that Ben cleverly put in when he moved to the Parsonage looks out over trees, valley and the church. Charlie’s pelagoniums

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and the second best spare bedroom

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which has the beautiful atmosphere of one of the convalescent attic bedrooms painted by Eric Ravilious. This truly lovely  patchwork quilt bedspread was made by Ben’s mother.

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and three little Ravilious china mugs to match

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Master bedroom

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Lots of books, seed catalogues tucked behind the bedhead on Charlie’s side

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Cosmos, Wedgwood King George Coronation mug by Ravilious

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This bull’s eye window on the bedroom passage looks up to the hillside in front of the house

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Bathroom harvest mugs and a Roberts radio

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holiday portrait in the lav

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And then the corridor leading to Charlie’s flower room at the back of the house, hung by Ben with Peter Hone’s plaster casts

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The Queen reigns here

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Her Beswick china corgis glassily adore her

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Ostrich eggs and huntsmen

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The blue painted dresser holding a collection of unglazed Fulham pottery vases designed in homage to that great artist of flower design, Constance Spry

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Bunting and stripes

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Apothecary jars

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DAHLIAS!

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tools of the trade

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And lining the corridor leading to the best guest bedroom (mine), Ben’s hundreds of copies of the World of Interiors. In Engish Decoration, Ben writes, ‘I love seagrass square which last really saw the light of day in the 1970s. Of all the things we have sourced in the shop, I am probably proudest of seagrass squares.’

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Sweet peas, dahlias and moss green walls, a colour from Patrick Baty’s 1950s range

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Above the chimney in my bedroom, the landscape by Ben’s Cornish ancestor Richard Thomas Pentreath (1806-1809), the son of a Mousehole schoolteacher

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books at the foot of the bed

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My bedroom dahlias, I badly wanted to take then home

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Charlie’s glorious pelagonium growing in my bathroom

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Seen from my bedroom window, Charlie working on the borders, Mavis waiting

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low clouds were turning the verdure khaki colour

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back down to the garden

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Braces no belt

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we went to see his shy marrow camouflaged in the vegetable garden

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back in for another cup of tea and a walk up the valley with the dogs

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Charlie took his boots off and I took this portrait a la Gertrude Jekyll

 

Grateful thanks to Charlie McCormick and Ben Pentreath. Charlie writes for Luxe magazine, and sometimes for Pleasure Garden. Ben writes everywhere, fluently and cogently, there is his regular blog, Inspiration,  but his next publication will be with Bridie, to celebrate a decade of their glorious trading company and shop, Pentreath and Hall, coming out in a few weeks time with an introduction written by me…

All photographs copyright bibleofbritishtaste. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to bibleofbritishtaste, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

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They rebuilt the ‘new’ house at Trereife in 1710, on and around the older one, as has so often been the case. There’s a back drive with high stone gate posts and rhododendrons and this front one, running up beside the old park palings. The Le Grice’s have owned Trereife since the early nineteenth century, after Charles Valentine Le Grice  arrived here to tutor the son of the widowed Mary Nicholls in 1796. Charles had been a pupil at Christ’s Hospital with the Romantic poet Samuel Coleridge and counted Charles Lamb and Leigh Hunt among his friends. Within a few years he had married his employer and taken holy orders; and after his wife and stepson both predeceased him, Charles inherited Trereife, leaving it to his son, Day Perry Le Grice.

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Tim Le Grice has lived here since the 80s with his wife Elizabeth, their family and their black Labrador, Milly; their old Labrador Duke, a noble dog, died earlier this year and is buried in the garden here. This is the mare, Grace, one of Tim’s much cherished horses.

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Just inside the front door

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Beyond it, this lovely drawing room, re-paneled in 1920 ( the original paneling had been replaced with more fashionable wallpaper). ‘This room’s had several re-paintings,’ says Elizabeth Le Grice. ‘Below the dado, that turquoise colour was done quite a few years ago, I painted it with my nanny in the 80s. But then a painter tried to match that colour and got it wrong, so it’s a sort of mixture but it works. It was a sort of Salmon pink that Tim’s mother had had for years, and when I painted the doors Lyn [Lyn Le Grice, the interior designer] said, ‘Make sure that the pink comes through the paint,’ which I like. The curtains were a gift from Tim’s sister, Tasmin Sowerby, when her son got married here, to thank us; Lyn Le Grice found the fabric for us.’

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‘Over the chimney is Harold Harvey ‘s Newlyn Gala Day at Whitsun, set in front of the house. It’s a copy, we no longer own the original.’

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‘What do you keep in these cabinets?’  ‘Nothing. That looking glass, we don’t know what it is.’ This is also the sitting room for guests who stay here for bed and breakfast.

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‘The NADFAS specialist told us this china isn’t all that valuable. The plates are hand painted. My grandfather collected those.’

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This is the Le Grice family crest on one of a set of hall chairs.

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‘The two small paintings on the left of the door, they’re by Sickert’s most promising pupil, through the connection with Alethea Garstin.’ Garstin was a central figure among the Newlyn Painters. Patrick Heron called her ‘England’s leading Impressionist.’

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‘I was Alethea Garstin’s family lawyer,’ says Tim Le Grice. ‘I found them in our safe, two pictures by the same person in two parcels. She had told me about the love of her life who was killed in the war, and I couldn’t help wondering if it was the same person who had painted these, the painter Edward Morland Lewis. He was killed. and he was only 26. He comes from Newport in Wales and his paintings are in Newport Museum, they are of the same era as Cedric Morris.’

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‘All the cutlery boxes and quite a lot of the furniture came from my mother’s side. She was a Ward,’ says Tim Le Grice. ‘My father loved the sea and sailing and all those things, I was more interested in books and history.’ Peter’s mother Wilmay was a wartime bride, marrying to Charles Le Grice who had joined up with the Devon Yeomanry in 1940. After following his regiment, she went to live with her mother and father in law at Trereife and much of its present appearance is owed to her. For a while the house was let as as an old people’s home and the young couple and their family could only move back in when its proprietors, Mrs Cherry and Miss Chapman, did a flit. “I was bicycling up the drive with a friend of mine,’ says Tim, ‘and a lorry came down with all their furniture, they were doing a runner. They were difficult tenants, they had refused to pay rent for a long time, but it was worth it to get this extraordinary house back! They had run out of money and lived the last few months in the boiler room, leaving Trereife dirty, rat-infested and painted in strange colours, ‘including a really shocking pink in the drawing room.’ Wilmay and her husband ripped up the linoleum which had been on the bedroom floors and began to make it a ‘little bit more human.’ 

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This little portrait of Mary Nicholls, who came from a local gentry family in Botallack, hangs in the hall.

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Tim and Elizabeth’s daughter Georgina is here too, as photographed by Country Life magazine.

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Trereife was rebuilt by John Nicholls, a successful Middle Temple barrister whose family had farmed in Cornwall since before the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. In the early C18th he remodeled the old house, adding a new front in the Queen Anne style in 1711.  He died almost bankrupted by what he had undertaken. This is one of three views made in 1766 hanging in the small hall leading to the dining room that show the house and landscape as planned by John Nicholls, in all its Queen Anne symmetry.

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The Dining Room, laid for the ‘Full English’ breakfast offered to every guest staying in the bed and breakfast rooms here. ‘That’s another ancestor of yours, with a long face, Colonel Perry, master of the King of Spain’s Horse. There’s one dummy door for symmetry. And the Le Grice family crest on a plate. The little achievements of arms, one is for the Nicholls family. Nicholls was sent up to London at only 17, and established himself so well as a barrister that he was able to do this incredible thing, turn a Cornish farmhouse round! The fireplace dated 1603, he would have remembered that from the old house.’

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‘This court cupboard was given to us about 2 years ago. A man from St. Erth village said he’d inherited it from his granny in Wales, he’d offered it to the National Trust and they didn’t want it, so he said, Would you like it? We keep a lot of stuff in it. That painted cupboard was French, that was your mother, Wilmay’s. Her father was ambassador in Paris. It came from Rolleboise, their converted farmhouse outside Paris. A lot of furniture came back before the war from there, it was thought the Germans were likely to take everything.’

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‘All those photos are Tim’s family, the Wards, and his mother Wilmay’s godfather there, Sir William Nicholson.’

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The beautifully carved knee of a C18th chair in the dining room.

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‘That fanlight there was originally above the front door. My grandfather decided it didn’t suit the Queen Anne part of the house.’

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‘I came here 35 years ago when we were married, in ’82 or 3, the children were small, Peter was born here,’ says Elizabeth Le Grice. ‘We had a cottage up the road, Tim’s mother Wilmay lived here and I thought, I don’t want to move in, nobody will visit! And I got used to it over the years.’

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Turning the corner of the house, into the stable yard.

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At the back of the stable yard is the Flower Loft. Post-war, Tim’s father had tried running the estate as a flower farm growing anemones, violets and early daffodils,that were bunched and packed in boxes in the flower loft (overseen by his wife, Wilmay) and sent to London by train. He became very interested  in the science of daffodil production. Violets were picked by the gardener’s wife and her friend and bunched in the Trereife scullery, stored in a galvenised bath, but when Wilmay asked to be shown how to do this, she was told, ‘Mrs Le Grice, you are not Cornish, you will never learn how to make a pasty and you will never learn how to mange violets, and we re not going to tell ‘ee.’ Wilmay found that the Cornish did not really like people ‘from away.’ ‘My children are accepted whole-heartedly but I know that it can’t be quite the same for me.’

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‘The staircase is probably from an older house, probably 17th century.’

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‘That little horse picture by Jeremy [Le Grice], it’s Georgina’s pony.’

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Landing window sill on the attic staircase

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The charming floral wallpaper surviving in one of the attics.

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Detail of the wallpaper which was recently uncovered

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Tim Le Grice receives the King George V Champion Cup from Sir  Watkin Williams-Wynn at Newmarket in 1985, for his winner, Shaab. He has kept and bred thoroughbreds ever since in the stables and paddocks here.

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‘Everything was put up there in the attics. It wasn’t until the late 40s, early 50s, that my parents decided to move back into the house, after the war. For some reason the pictures remained up there all that length of time, I never had the opportunity to ask them about these. We don’t know who they are. Quite recently, a year ago, the whole side of the house was falling down and a friend who was an architect decided that we needed to build a wall inside, a sort of buttress, and it worked!’

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Wilmay’s grandfather Herbert Ward was of Irish ancestry, a sculptor and explorer who had been with Stanley in Africa, and spent much of his adult life living in Normandy in France; this small bronze is one of his . Wilmay’s uncle was the British Ambassador in Paris, so Wilmay did the Paris season, which coincided with the state visit of King George the VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1938 and included a banquet at Versailles and another formal occasion at which Hitler was present.’

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The stable yard at Trereife

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Stables still in use

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Stable

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Chest of drawers in the family corridor.

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 First floor Bedroom, with its very simple, Baroque-meets-Palladian, overmantle.

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‘Over the chimney is a drawing on newspaper, our friend gave it to us as a wedding present.’

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The bedroom wallpaper came from Heals.

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‘This is the beautiful room with all the French furniture from Wilmay’s grandmother’s house at Rolleboise, this was the Withdrawing Room, on the piano nobile overlooking the garden. It’s our only spare room, and we also use it when there are weddings here.’ Tim Le Grice and Daniel Slowik of Colefax and Fowler.
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‘That’s Wilmay’ (painted by Willian Mouat Loudan (1868-1985). She had to hold an apple because she was being naughty. She suffered from a mother who always said she was ugly.’

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Tim’s Study occupies the huge double height old kitchens. Above his desk hang a set of prints showing scenes at the Grand National by Cecil Aldin.

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Filing system in the study

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Reading matter in the study

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Tim’s study.  ‘Once this was the servants quarters, that door goes through to the outside courtyard.’

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Corner at the back of the study

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Over the old kitchen chimney (now Tim’s study) hangs a C18th estate map. Above it is the mechanism for a meat spit.

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‘These are the Back Stairs, these were the main stairs of the house before its was tuned round. This is my pottery collection. I painted that it was just pine.’

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‘My pottery collection.’ Elizabeth trained as a potter at Redruth. She has always bought pictures and ceramics whenever she had a bit of money.

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‘One of the things that fascinates me most is the fact that this house was built as it was, so far down at the Land’s End. Did we mention that the ceiling in the Breakfast Room has been dated earlier than the house itself ? 1690 rather than 1710, purely because we were behind with the fashions this far down,’ says Elizabeth. She was formerly the Art Librarian for Cornwall and purchased and set up the Cornwall Art Library. ‘These are Romi Behrens’s paintings, of Georgina and Peter growing up.The others include a head by Elizabeth Hunter and Romi’s Vase with Flowers. The pot is by Jason Wason, I got given that, because I wrote the foreword to his catalogue.’

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‘We live in a two up two down since doing bed and breakfast. We used to be spread over the whole house.’

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Next to the chimney piece, one of two framed birthday cards sent to Wilmay by William Nicholson.

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Sir William Nicholson was one of Wilmay’s six godfathers, a youthful friend of her father’s. He lived then in a converted stable in Apple Tree Yard just off St James’s in Piccadilly. “I used to take my special friends to tea with him sometimes. It was very exciting, we had tea in the stable loose box, with a round table in the middle and on the table, a big dish of prawns. He used to stand with a large spoon and throw the prawns in the air. We caught what we could, and enjoyed the ‘prawn-chase.’

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Portrait of Tim as a child.

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‘That’s a painting of Cornish Wrestlers by Alethea Garstin. Her executors gave it to me.’

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Window in the wing at the end of the house.

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The walled garden, now laid down to grass

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Walled garden growing

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Elizabeth Le Grice serves up some lunch in the stable courtyard

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Old wrought iron gate on the front drive

 

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Visit or stay at Trereife House. Tours conducted by Tim Le Grice, bed and breakfast and weddings are catered for here. The gardens are often open for charity and special events too. https://trereifepark.co.uk/

 

https://trereifepark.co.uk/weddings/

Grateful thanks to Tim and Elizabeth Le Grice.

All photographs copyright bibleofbritishtaste. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to bibleofbritishtaste, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

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Min Hogg lives round the corner from the V and A and the Brompton Oratory. She is the creator and founding editor of the World of Interiors magazine, generally considered to be outstanding in the western world. Interiors (as it was originally called) launched in 1981 above a florist’s in the Fulham Road. It focused on startlingly beautiful things, all taken from a list of places she ‘knew from life.’ The magazine was so successful that within six months of its inception, Conde Nast offered to purchase it.

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In 1983 she described her approach as celebrating homes personalised by their residents rather than interiors created by professional decorators.

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‘The one hanging at the top is an Italian funeral citation.’

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How old were you when you met Nicky Haslam. Was he your best friend? ‘Yes, by miles. We met at a deb dance in the country, we discovered he lived round the park in Cumberland Terrace. Then we saw each other all the time, he was still at school, his mother thought it was quite a good idea.’ In his autobiography, Redeeming Features, Nicky remembered, ‘ She had long dark hair, rather naughty eyes, and the tiniest gap in her front teeth. It gave her smile a special attractiveness… she became then and there, and has remained, the closest, most beloved person in my life.’

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‘I had to smuggle Nicky past my father, in case he saw Nicky. He was wearing … vaguely gay … winklepickers? … I can’t remember.’ Her father was a personal physician to the Queen.

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She is good at stripes

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This little needlepoint cushion worked by Min’s mother. ‘It was my mother Polly who awakened my love of all things beautiful.’

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Miniature watercolour bedroom mantle-scape painting by Min, porcelain she has collected on trips to China, Egypt, Persia and Holland.

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The kitchen. ‘My belief about kitchens is that absolutely everything must be on show.’

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Chicken wire cupboard door panels and gingham check

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‘Nicky [Haslam] rang one day and said, Oh you know about colour and patterns, I’m trying to find a wallpaper for a client.’ He gave her a C18th portfolio of  botanical seaweed to source her designs from. ‘And we never did it. But Michael and I [Mike Tighe, the former Art Director of The World of Interiors] just couldn’t stop, we went on and on, so then we found we’d got a collection.’ The Seaweed Collection is at minhoggdesign.com

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‘Designing the collection took quite a long time. And then we had to find a printer. I would scribble because I’m not computer savvy, and then Mike had to reproduce one bit of seaweed over and over and over again to get the curves.’

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What’s the best seller? ‘At the moment it’s the Feathers, it was much, much smaller originally. They re all real, real seaweed engravings, but there may be more than one seaweed in a pattern. We did repeats, we learned how to do it by doing it, me and Michael. The way we did it, we made it solid-er, so they look like block printing.’

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How long did it take you to get the colourways right? ‘Ages! Ages and ages. Every time they change the paper or they change the ink we have to start again. But we don’t change the colours to keep abreast of fashion at all, fuck that. I’ll do what I fancy at the time.’

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‘We didn’t bother to discover what the standard size of wallpapers was, we did all our designs any size we jolly well liked. Which means it’s terribly awkward in some ways.’

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‘That’s what we’re working on now, putting them [the seaweed patterns] behind chicken wire, like the cupboard doors in my bathroom.’ Min’s bathroom.

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Cupboard door panel in the bathroom.

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More of the bathroom

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Box of wallpaper samples in the bedroom.

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Dining and work table in the sitting room. She has collected antique textiles since the age of eight.

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Seaweed fabric samples and antique textiles

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Fabrics: https://minhoggdesign.com/Fabrics/  Linens cost from about  £40 a metre

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In the toy box is the ‘Action Min’ doll made by a friend and his young son that she posted on instagram

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‘Mini Min,’ from @minhoggdesign

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‘It’s a family tree but it sort of takes them back to God.’

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‘What did you have in your bedroom when you were little, did your mother give you lovely things? ‘Yes! Pictures. I had two bedrooms in the same house, because the nursery which was my bedroom became my parents bedroom. Oh no, I had three! We lived in Regents Park, Upper Harley Street. My mother always had very nice houses, but when she died this place was choc-a-bloc already, so I hardly took anything. A chair. Sad.’

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‘This is Kitty Fisher, it’s by the Rev. Matthew William Peters R.A.’

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‘I got it at Sotheby’s, I saw her from miles down the room. She was the absolute toast of London.’

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A nice bit of chinoiserie lacquer.

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Wallpaper samples closeup

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‘You’ve worried me now, about my bedrooms. I only decorated once, a very nice ivy trellis wallpaper. I had blue hangings on the four-poster, that’s when I was at art school, the Central School, I was doing interior and furniture design. My idea was to be a window dresser. I never did it.’ The chintz on the bedhead is from John Stefanidis. Witch balls above the bed.

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‘i once had to judge a window dressing competition in Bond Street with Roy Strong and Jean Muir, and when we’d finished, I said, ‘None of them were remotely interesting, don’t lets award the prize.’ But she said we had to.’ At the Central she had been taught graphic design by Terence Conran, whose wife Caroline proposed her for her first job in journalism, at Harpers. Min Hogg is very beautifully dressed; in the 70s she returned to Harpers and Queen as fashion editor.

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‘That’s Queen Victoria on her blind horse. My mother got it in a sale, she just knew.’

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Min Hogg, accidental portrait.

‘Timner Wollard painted the wallpaper. She used to do rooms sets and backdrops for us, and then she and I concocted it together. That’s the best bit there, [in the right-hand corner next to the bed head], that’s before her boyfriend told her they weren’t going to Paris.’

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Min’s other house in the Canaries was photographed for Haute Bohemians by Miguel Flores-Vianna last year, Min and Wendy Harrop published this volume of the very best of the World of Interiors in 1988.  According to Nicky Haslam, ‘ Almost overnight the magazine lifted people’s attitudes to interior design by showing that the profession was not merely airy-fairy whim but one employing a vital grid of artisans, specialists and craftsmen. One of the earliest of Interiors featured the Chelsea flat I had recently decorated for Bryan Ferry…  Min put together a book with her choice of its very best articles. The party to celebrate the publication took place at Drayton Gardens, and noticing the alacrity with which the kultur maverns pounced on The World of Interiors: A Decoration Book, I saw the possibility of doing, someday, something along the same lines about my own work.’

xhttps://minhoggdesign.com/Gallery/

Very many thanks to Min Hogg.

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