Visiting the cottage at Stoneywell
The cottage at Stoneywell is a model of Arts and Crafts ideals. More recently lived in full-time by the grandson of its first owner, the cottage is furnished with many original pieces made by Ernest Gimson and his circle of craftsmen. Here’s what to look out for when you visit Stoneywell.
Arts and Crafts at Stoneywell
There are many special objects in the collection at Stoneywell that help us tell the story of the Gimson family and the Arts and Crafts Movement. In each room, you'll see glimpses of family life among unique Arts and Crafts items.
Discover an Orkney chair, pottery painted by Grace Barnsley and a coffer by Joseph Armitage, which features an early version of the oak leaf design that Armitage would use in his winning entry to design a logo for the National Trust.
In the dining room you'll find eight Ernest Gimson ladder-back, rush-seated chairs surrounding an oak refectory table designed by Sidney Barnsley.
Highlights in the collection
Stoneywell is now an amalgamation of objects passed down through generations of the Gimson family, alongside items that were bought, loaned and gifted to the National Trust to bring the past of Stoneywell to life. Here’s a brief highlight of objects to look out for.
A wooden cot dominates the nursery at Stoneywell. Made by Ernest Gimson for a friend, the original cot was part of the Leicester Museum Service’s collection and was offered on loan to Stoneywell. However, because of the tightly winding slate staircase, try as they might, the team couldn’t manoeuvre the cot up to the nursery, nor dismantle it.
Volunteer and retired engineer Chris Barrow, a gifted craftsman, offered to make a replica Gimson cot, that could be dismantled and would fit up the stairs, which now takes pride of place in the nursery.
Nooks and crannies are crammed with books at Stoneywell, and it’s clear that books were at the centre of life for the Gimson family, particularly Basil and his wife Muriel who lived at the cottage up to his death in 1953.
Many of the books owned by Basil were made personal by his words: 'from Father's library', or simply 'from his father' inscribed inside the front cover.
The 1912 coffer in the master bedroom features 11 carvings on its coffer depicting a tree, shrub or flower – a fitting example of the Arts and Crafts Movement bringing the natural world inside.
But what makes this coffer so significant is just one of these carvings: an oak leaf on its right-hand side. Carved by Joseph Armitage, this coffer is the place where his oak leaf design first appears, a design that Armitage used in his winning entry to design a logo for the National Trust in its 1935 competition.
A picture of the past
In the nursery, your eyes are drawn to the painting that hangs above the door on the other side of the room. Although it’s over 100 years old, the picture's rich display of striking primary colours appear untouched by time.
Much about this painting remains unknown. There are two smaller, but similar works, on the opposite wall of the nursery.
Also look out for...
- On the sitting room wall is a double-candle wall light with a detailed design of oak leaf and acorn motifs, made by a local blacksmith to Ernest Gimson’s design.
- Look out for a small collection of ceramics in the dining room, decorated by Grace Barnsley, whose father Sidney was an architect and designer.
- Sitting next to the fireplace in the sitting room are the fire dogs and irons, made by local blacksmith, Alfred Bucknell.
- An electric train set can be seen in the well room, although today its route runs under the beds, rather than lowering the tracks from the ceiling as the Gimson family did.
Discover how one man’s vision changed a summer house into an Arts and Crafts-inspired family home.
From a show-stopping rhododendron collection to an 11-acre woodland, find out what you can see in Stoneywell's colourful garden here.