Monday, 20 May 2019

Stoneywell, etc.

My latest Mercian jaunt began with Stoneywell, a National Trust property hidden away in the rocky, rolling Charnwood forest in Leicestershire. The house, or rather cottage, is an Arts and Crafts gem, designed by Ernest Gimson and built by him and the wonderfully named Detmar Blow for Ernest's brother Sidney and his family, several generations of whom lived there until finally handing it over to the National Trust. A small house on several levels, it seems to emerge organically from the rock it's built on. Nothing about the interior is predictable or regular, and every room is a joy to be in – at least for an inveterate Arts and Crafts fan like me. There's plenty of beautifully made furniture, by Gimson and others, to admire too. I didn't care for the planting of the parts of the garden near the house, which look more Fifties seaside than Gertrude Jekyll (not the Trust's fault), but apart from that, it was a delight – and (having booked ahead) we were taken round by a knowledgable and enthusiastic guide.
  Later there was a walk in Lathkil Dale, one of the most beautiful of the Derbyshire dales (and much quieter than, say, Dove Dale), and a morning visit to a nature reserve adapted from an abandoned quarry, where I saw more Wall butterflies than I have ever seen in a day since my far-off, butterfly-rich boyhood.
 Not a single church on this visit. That's surely a first.

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