Arts and Crafts, at its best

East Grinstead, England. We had an absolutely beautiful day for our trip to see Standen House and Garden, a stunning example of a house that shows how beautiful the Arts and Crafts Movement could make a home.

Between 1891 and 1894 architect Philip Webb, who was a friend of William Morris, designed the house for a prosperous London solicitor, James Beale, his wife Margaret, and their family of seven children. The house is constructed in the vernacular style with sandstone quarried from the estate and locally made bricks and tiles. The interior is decorated with Morris carpets, fabrics and wallpapers, with furnishings also by Morris, and the garden complements the beauty of the house. From the start the house had electric power, and the house still has its original electric light fittings.
Rather than tear down an old farm house on the property, the architect kept it and all its cottage charm, and then tucked the new house through an arch creating a lovely but unpretentious approach to the front. The back is equally attractive, and faces a meadow and gardens.

After Beale’s death in 1912, Margaret Beale continued to live at Standen. When she died in 1936, their unmarried daughter, Margaret, succeeded her, and after her death in 1947, Standen came into the possession of Helen, their youngest daughter, also unmarried. On Helen’s death in 1972 the house passed by bequest to the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty.

The fact that it never went through other hands means that what we see now is a very authentic representation of a fully realized house in the Arts and Crafts style. It was designed as a summer/holiday/retirement home, and it reflects an unpretentious family who wanted a comfortable place to relax and entertain friends.

The old barn on the property is now the cafe, and it adheres to National Trust standards. We had a very nice carrot and coriander soup, asparagus quiche and a cheese jacket potato. An excellent break in the day.

 

 

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