Just outside Bowness-on-Windermere is Blackwell House, one of the UK’s finest examples of Arts and Crafts architecture.
This Grade 1 listed building is an absolute must if you’re interested in the Arts and Crafts movement. We think it’s an absolute must even if you’re not.
Designed by noted architect, Mackay Baillie Scott, Blackwell House was built at the turn of the 20th century as a luxury country retreat for Sir Edward Holt, a wealthy Manchester brewer. Situated in a stunning setting overlooking Windermere, the house boasts glorious views of the Lake District landscape and the Coniston fells. This would have been the perfect holiday home.
Today the house maintains many of its original decorative features. From intricate carved panelling to stained glass windows, decorative plaster and metal work to bespoke fabrics, much of the house remains exactly as Sir Edward Holt and his family would have seen it over one hundred years ago.
It is also home to a wonderful collection of furniture, objects and paintings, many of which have their origins in the Arts & Crafts style. Visitors are also able to take in the multiple displays which are available to see throughout the year, exhibitions and events which offer visitors the opportunity to learn more about the Arts and Crafts movement.
The Arts and Crafts Movement
The Arts and Crafts movement began in the late nineteenth century and marked the beginning of a change in how society viewed how things were made. There was a renewed interest in hand-made and traditional crafts. This was not only a direct reaction to the fear that mass production would create a characterless, bland world, but also an attempt to boost the relatively lowly status of the decorative arts.
The development of the movement was driven by figures such as John Ruskin, who lived at Brantwood on the shores of Coniston Water, and the designer, William Morris.
Taking its name from the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, a group founded in London in 1887, the movement reformed the design and manufacture of everything from buildings right through to jewellery.
For more information about the Arts and Crafts movement, visit the Victoria and Albert Museum website.
Blackwell House – a potted history
After the First World War, the Holt family stopped visiting Blackwell, but continued to employ a small staff to maintain it.
Like so many other large country properties, Blackwell House was home to a school which had been evacuated due to the threat of air raids. The girls from Liverpool’s Huyton College are said to have enjoyed their time at Blackwell. Following the war, the house continued to be used as a prep school for girls.
In 1999, the Lakeland Arts Trust, which also owns Abbot Hall in Kendal, acquired the house and in 2001 it first opened its doors to the public. Twenty years on, we’re looking forward to being able to visit this magnificent house once again, to soak up its atmosphere and to take in its beauty and craftmanship.
The gardens and tearoom are well worth a visit too.
For more information take a look at the Lakeland Arts website