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 has been Grade II listed by Historic England. Read more about the lisiting here.
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."
Are you a contemporary artist? Are you interested in helping us to keep the artistic heritage of the cabin alive? We would love to hear from you. Each year we aim to run two projects which give artists exclusive access.
For more information please call 01237 441976 or download a proposal form: Bucks Mills Cabin proposal form (PDF / 0.1MB) download
*UPDATED DATES* 2019 Open days
Keep an eye out for more details on this year's open days and artists in residence - this page will be updated with more dates and details when they are all confirmed.
2019 Open Days (all 10am-3pm)
2019 Artists in Residence Open Days
30 March, 10am-3pm - Bob Walters, photographer.
5 May (outside only - in conjunction with Bucks Mills Poetry Festival) Live Poetry Performance/Poetry Reading Session.
15-16 June, 10am-3pm - Victoria Owen, artist.
5-6 July, 12pm-4pm - Emma Johnson, illustrator.
12-13 July, 12pm-4pm - Emma Johnson, illustrator.
24-25 August, 10am-3pm - John Piper, watercolourist.
14 September, 10am-3pm - John Piper, watercolourist.
15 September, 10am-3pm - Helen Kent, writer.
See the collection
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 changing collections, and events, the gallery is a dynamic and exciting space. Find out more here.
In 2017 the Cabin was featured in a new six-part podcast series, presented by Clare Balding, which explored the lost and hidden LGBTQ stories from our places as we marked the 50th anniversary of the partial-decriminalisation of homosexuality. Listen to the whole series here.