Blackwell Arts & Crafts House
The graceful sweep of a casement stay outlined against the winter’s sky is what I think of when asked what is special about Blackwell Arts & Crafts House … and what is a casement stay? It’s the arm that keeps the window open – an everyday object that we all take for granted … except that here it is a “thing of beauty and a joy forever”. No photo – you will have to go there yourself to see it – and the many other lovely things that the treasure trove of Blackwell will share with you.
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” – thus spake William Morris, one of the founders of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Blackwell is a wonderful illustration of this philosophy taken to its ultimate expression in architecture, furniture and art work. The Main Hall is reminiscent of a medieval banqueting hall with its huge fireplace, inglenook window and overhanging Minstrels Gallery. The contrast between this room and the bright and airy White Drawing room is made all the more impressive by the journey one takes to get from one room to another.
Baillie Scott’s design echoes another of the Arts & Crafts movement founders, John Ruskin, who said “Good art flows from the craftsmen who create it.” Each of the many rooms has its own distinct personality and there is an artistic gem wherever you turn; a leaf-shaped door handle, a curvaceous lamp standard, a rowan-berry wall frieze, an elegant flower glowing iridescently in exquisite stained glass… The furniture is either original or in keeping with the Arts & Design ethos of that period – the house was built between 1898-1900.
Blackwell House Rowan Berry
Blackwell offers more than most historic houses; several of its first floor rooms have been adapted for use as galleries, and exhibitions are held throughout the year. The Gallery Rooms show contemporary work by established as well as emerging craft-makers and often display historical exhibitions that explore different aspects of the Arts & Crafts Movement. On my latest visit photographs from the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle were showcased alongside a small but perfectly-formed collection of Lake District Photography artefacts and pictures.
And of course, after you have had your fill of the architecture and history what could be better than a tasty baguette, a delicious pastry, a scrumptious scone and a refreshing cuppa at the Blackwell café – and if the sun is shining you can sit on the terrace overlooking England’s longest lake, Windermere.
It’s Blackwell’s 10th Birthday so there are plenty of great exhibitions and events planned throughout the year – more details here www.blackwell.org.uk The house is open all year round. Further information on Blackwell and the Lakeland Arts Trust www.lakelandartstrust.org.uk
If you would like to discover more of the Lake District, Cumbria & NWUK go to www.thequirkytraveller.com
Zoe Dawes is the Quirky Traveller Editor for Wandering Educators.
For more Quirky Traveller's Tales and information on Tours & Walks in the Lake District and beyond www.thequirkytraveller.com