National Trust properties are not all grand mansions stuffed with antique marquetry furniture ; some, such as Stoneywell Cottage, which the Trust purchased in January, are relatively modest – but are at least as important.
Stoneywell, in Leicestershire, is an unsurpassed example of an Arts and Crafts house. Designed, built and part-furnished by the famous designer-architect Ernest Gimson for his brother Sydney, in 1899, the Grade II* listed cottage remained in the family until it was offered to the Trust.
Remarkably, Stoneywell still has much of its original Arts & Crafts furniture , including a set of Ernest Gimson Victorian dining chairs and an antique dining table made by Sidney Barnsley, who with his brother (another Ernest) helped furnish the house. One particularly interesting feature is the oak leaf emblem carved onto an antique chest, which Cumbrian visitors will recognise as the iconic logo of the National Trust. It was chosen from a competition that the Trust ran in the 1930s.
It will be some time before visitors from Cumbria can see the antique dining chairs and other furniture that Ernest Gimson and his peers custom-made for Sydney and his family. Currently, the Trust is asking for donations to carry out essential repairs to the property and install visitor facilities, ready for its grand opening in 2014. However, the Blackwell Arts and Crafts house at Windermere is open, with a fine collection of Baillie Scott furniture on display.
In Preston, Victorian dining chairs, antique chests and other Arts & Crafts furniture can often be found by visiting an antiques dealer.
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