Bucks Mills Cabin
Perched above the sea in the ancient fishing hamlet of Bucks Mills, the Cabin was the studio and summer residence of painters Judith Ackland and Mary Stella Edwards from the 1920s until Judith's death in 1971. The interior and its contents have remained preserved, almost as the women left them, for over 40 years.
The Cabin looks almost exactly as Judith Ackland and Mary Stella Edwards left it over 40 years ago. You can step through the green door into another world filled with delicate china, a wood burning stove and old cupboards stuffed with bric a brac, all bathed in a wonderful natural light.
Judith Ackland and Mary Stella Edwards travelled widely on their painting trips, but Bucks Mills remained the place they loved the most. The two women spent most summers in Bucks Mills, painting coastal scenes, local landscapes and the village.
Judith Ackland (1892-1971) was born at Stowford House on Bideford Strand. Her father was a well-known doctor, and from an early age she would accompany him on visits to treat his patients at Bucks Mills. She attended Bideford School of Art before going to the Regent Street Polytechnic in London where she met Mary.
In 1945, Judith invented a method of making tiny figurines from cotton wool, naming her process 'Jackanda'. She would make figures and objects for dioramas with backdrops painted by Mary Stella. The subjects for the dioramas were often historical, and this collaboration brought many successful commissions including five dioramas which are on permanent display at the Windsor Guildhall.
Mary Stella Edwards (1898 - 1989) chose to paint in watercolours like Judith, but she was also a published poet and considered herself a poet first and painter second. Her poetry is filled with references to the sea and the sounds of the beach. She was born in Hampstead, where her father was an architect.
The Burton Gallery in Bideford holds a large collection of drawings, watercolours and dioramas featuring local subjects which were given to the gallery by Mary Stella Edwards. The Burton collection clearly shows the women's love of North Devon and of their Cabin in particular.
After Judith died in 1971, Mary Stella never used her seaside studio again, but set up the Ackland and Edwards Trust to look after the property. The Cabin was gifted to the National Trust in 2008.
Keeping the tradition alive
Recently Bucks Mills Cabin has been used as a space for artist’s residencies. Find out more about some of the artists have been inspired by this unqiue space:
" The studio is light and cheery, and affords wonderful views over the sea, to Hartland, Lundy, and Baggy Point...it’s a wonderfully inspiring place, so rich in history."
Unfortunately due to COVID-19 and popular demand we are now at capacity until April 2022 for artist's residencies.
The Burton Art Gallery is situated close to the waterfront in Bideford and holds a large collection of Judith Ackland and Mary Stella Edwards. With regularly chaning collections, and events, the gallery is a dynamic and exciting space. Find out more here.