In retirement our winter trips are being dictated by the weather forecast rather than the weekend and this freedom is liberating. With some cold sunny weather forecast last week we baked a cake, packed some warm clothing and set off for the Lake District. Windermere is easy to get to from Salford and we were soon soaking up the views along the lake from Orrest Head, pottered by the Windermere and seeking a cosy pub to warm up in.
In the afternoon we visited the lovely Blackwell Arts and Crafts House. We had been here before many years ago and since then the staff and volunteers have been busy and many improvements have been made. Built by M H Bailie Scott as a holiday home for Edward Holt, this is a beautiful example of an Arts and Crafts house that retains many of its original features that, in keeping with the movement, are both decorative and practical. The door handles are leaf-shaped, the window catches are interesting. There is attractive stained glass and plaster work too but just as important, the atmosphere is relaxed, rather than stuffy and visitors are encouraged to linger.
After being a holiday home the house became a school and then offices before being bought by a Trust in 1999 and it opened to the public in 2001. The White Drawing Room has slender columns with decorative capitals, a sunny aspect over the lake and is a room where the sunlight dances around the room.
The Arts and Crafts Movement began in Britain in the 1880s and spread across Europe and America. As the V&A writes:
‘It was a movement born of ideals. It grew out of a concern for the effects of industrialisation: on design, on traditional skills and on the lives of ordinary people. In response, it established a new set of principles for living and working. It advocated the reform of art at every level and across a broad social spectrum, and it turned the home into a work of art.’
The Arts and Crafts Movement has strong links with the Lake District. The three founder members, William Morris, Edward Burne Jones and Phillip Webb were supported by George Howard from Naworth Castle near Carlisle and he used William Morris’ wallpapers in many of his properties. John Ruskin, a Lake District resident, strongly influenced the Arts and Crafts Movement. He considered machine-made items to be dishonest and that craftmanship was linked to dignity.
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