5th January 2017
A couple of weeks ago, a family friend of ours was lucky enough to go stay in Standen House in West Sussex, now a National Trust owned property, with stunning views of the Medway Valley and Ashdown Forest; a perfect location for a country home. Originally it belonged to James Beale, a prosperous London solicitor, who lived there with his wife Margaret and their family. It was between 1891 and 1894 that William Morris’ close friend Philip Webb designed the house; filling it with beautiful Morris & Co. carpets, fabrics and wallpapers, even designing the gardens to perfectly compliment the splendour of the house. After James Beale died in 1912, his wife lived there, and afterwards two generations of unmarried daughters until Helen’s death in 1972; when the home was left to the National Trust as a Historical Place of Interest or Natural Beauty. Having visited Standen multiple times throughout the years, and being lucky enough to have a range of our products sold in their shop, we’re very glad the family were generous enough to leave their house for everyone to enjoy!
The Arts & Crafts house was built as a modern home; which was complete with central heating and electricity, which was a complete luxury. Today, the house has been so well looked after that the original light fittings remain. Webb’s design vision was to make it look like it had always been there, ‘grown’ from the rock face, becoming part of the landscape; according to the National Trust website, “the land that Standen now stands upon was originally made up of three farms: Stone, Hollybush and Standen.”
Though it was built as a modern home, Webb preserved some of the medieval farm buildings already on the site, incorporating them into the design.
Webb, in line with the Arts & Craft Movement, ensured the house was built using traditional methods, using local materials. The Arts & Crafts Movement is one you can see examples of all over the World today; begininning in Britain in 1880, it spread across Europe and America, reaching Japan as the Mingei (Folk Crafts) Movement, leading it to be called one of the most influential design movements in modern times. Growing in Britain at a time of industrialisation, the movement was born from concern that traditional skills from ordinary people were being replaced, so it turned the home into a space where art produced by the every man was appreciated and encouraged. Two of the most influential figures of the movement were John Ruskin and William Morris.
“Have nothing in your house you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”- William Morris
Webb definitely stuck to his friend’s advice when decorating Standen, which is kept up in the apartment which is available to rent is filled with beautiful wallpaper and furnishings. The apartment lies in the original rooms the Beale family would have lived in and features lots of beautiful Morris designs:
Thanks to our friend Margot and her family for these photos of the apartment and Standen itself, what a beautiful setting for a short break!