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Inspiration

Contrasts….



Ben

Two weeks ago we were in Cheltenham, for the happiest wedding, one of Charlie’s old friends getting married to her wonderful man. So much laughter along the way and a lot of dancing (no photos on the blog, sorry).

But we started at Chastleton on the Friday afternoon – I’d had a meeting nearby and Charlie came and met me – a place I’d dreamed of visiting for so long, I could hardly believe I’ve never been. Is this perhaps the perfect National Trust house? So gentle, so beautiful, so simple in its presentation “this is what it is”. The house has been preserved essentially as the family left it, when the Trust took over in the early 90s.

The dovecote is the first building you spy on arrival, set in fields before the house. A wonderful building.

And then the great dreamy stone Jacobean facade, so grand, yet so intimate in scale. 

The interior really speaks for itself. It is a dream, requiring no interpretation or explanation. But here are some favourite moments, among too many to mention. 

The attic stair leads to the astonishing long gallery, set high in the roof, a beautiful room. 

Back down to the internal courtyard in the middle of the house…

The old kitchen…

And the garden.

Great gate piers on the edge of the east garden look as if they have been buried, such is their scale.

Next door, in the church.

A fine assortment of Bridie’s and my favourite chairs, the monobloc, featured so many times on this blog before. 

We left and went on our way to stay the night with our friends James and Arthur – calling in at Lodge Park, Sherborne, on the way – another building I’d dreamed of seeing but had never visited.  Heavenly especially in the flat autumn light.

The best of Friday evenings, catching up after too long; we woke with slightly sore heads and headed up to Cheltenham where it was time to start all over again – and even more sore heads on the Sunday morning.  A walk around the cool, lucid, 18th century streets of Cheltenham felt clearing. It was a city I’d never visited for long before and lovely to get to grips with, albeit briefly. Rather curiously American in feel, like being in a great federal town, Charleston or Savannah.

And then back to London and a full week and the weekend hurtled around. On Friday, early, I left from Heathrow with Danny and Manan from the office – heading out to beautiful Piedmont, in Northern Italy. We are starting an exciting new project – restoring old buildings, and designing a fine new farmhouse, on a lovely tumbling site, a small farm filled with vineyards and fruit trees, and hazelnut groves.

We arrived on the softest late afternoon, the sun gently glowing.

Inspiration is close at hand.

The following morning we were back, in hazy, misty light – for a further visit and to meet with our local architect collaborators. A happy meeting and a highly fruitful one – which ended in a long lunch washed down by copious local red wine.

And then to Milan – Torre di Pisa for supper that night…. 

A walk through the Milanese night…
And the next morning, Villa Necchi – another building I had LONGED to visit for years. A sensation – and so beautifully presented and displayed.  I loved especially the service quarters, which is of course so often the way….

And the amazing Art Deco bathrooms… a dream. 

The stairs to the basement. 

The orangery really is the finest room in the house….

So good to see it in the garden in that autumnal moment.  I loved the vegetable garden too. 

And we were intrigued deeply by Villa Mozart next door, even more amazing perhaps?  That was it for the sight seeing – by the power of social media, I’d seen that our friends Sam and Alex were in town, and we had met for a long and happy lunch, and I just about managed to catch my flight home.

London looked dreamily beautiful as we came floating in on Sunday evening, glittering in the night. 

It was a weary but happy head that hit the pillow that night, although I’m seriously looking forward to seeing Charlie and the dogs tomorrow – I will admit.

 

12 comments on this post

  • David Sanders

    A veritable visual treat. The decorative plaster ceilings at Chastleton are ‘incroyable’ and the aged patina of the whole place is just perfect.


  • Mary

    Glorious, from start to finish. Thank you!


  • Phil Golden

    Those balusters at Ch. House are going to give me nightmares. Great building/property. Thanks!


  • Dana

    Whats better than happily going to sleep with sweet memories of where youve recently been and excited thoughts of who youll soon see? That a good life lived well.


  • Ann Collins

    Thank you so much for my armchair travels this morning. These building are so amazing, the ceilings in the first group are works of art in themselves and the photos of Italy are magical. I look forward to more from Italy when you get further into the restoration.


  • Georgi

    Beautiful photos, all breathtaking, lightens the soul!
    Keep at it Ben, you bring a lot of joy to us all in these times.
    Thank you


  • Gillian Charles

    Those images of Chastleton – heavenly. I want to go there NOW. Why, oh why, oh why does the National Trust website not carry images like that?


  • John Revill

    We went to Chastleton many years ago when it was still privately owned, much the same now but without the pervading smell of damp.


  • Matt

    Wow! You have a way with photography. I’ve been in love with Villa Necchi since seeing it in ‘I Am Love’, but your photos expose a rawer beauty I’ve never appreciated. So happy you are posting more regularly too. Hope I’m not jinxing anything by saying that 😉.


  • Elizabeth

    Loved the pictures of Chastleton. I was taken there in the early 70s by my boyfriend’s father. He knew Alan Clutton-Brock, who was still living there at the time with his wife Barbara. They basically lived in the kitchen, which was unbelievably cluttered and dusty — squalor barely held at bay. I do remember walking along the gallery and being astonished by it.


  • Lynda

    I love Chastleton, thank you for that. My husband and I stumbled onto it on a visit to the area a couple of years ago. I was amazed at the diversity of visitors, families with young children, older people, etc. With so many grand houses to see, it surprised me so many people would be drawn to it. But I was enchanted. When I want to calm myself I think of the walk from the parking lot, with the sheep grazing on the hill ( and no fence, or signs warning you not to get near them), and the feeling of sitting in the ancient churchyard having tea from a china mug and a delicious homemade cake.


  • Jane Charlotte Corbett

    What a wonderful mix and contrast! My father-in-law grew up at Lodge Park, his parents lived in it as his mother acted as hostess for her unmarried cousin at Sherborne House. I visited while it was still lived in, before the Trust returned it to its previous form. I have lots of photograph albums showing it as it was then, which I keep meaning to give them – and her housekeeping book.

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