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.
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.]