Welcome to Stonywell cottage. A place
which I think is absolutely amazing. It’s truly organic. The stones that you see that it’s
built of were harvested from its four acre surrounds. It’s the summer house of a Leicester
industrialist called Sydney Gimson. He commissioned his younger brother, the
Cotswold based architect, Ernest Gimson to design and build for him this
incredible house. Let’s go in. Stoneywell wasn’t just an Arts and Crafts gem, which, of course, undeniably it is. It’s also a house of Swallows and Amazons childhoods. And children just love houses, I find, with two staircases. They hurtle up one staircase and down the other, and then out into the garden. They can run off then to the fort down the garden, or turn left into hundred acre wood. Stoneywell, because of its many levels and twists and turns and endless windows framing different views, you never know quite where you are. So you’re never bored. There’s always something new to look at and somewhere new to look. Here we are in the main bedroom where you get a very clear impression of the rather primitive and traditional construction of Stoneywell Cottage. In fact, a carpenter who came here to do some repairs when the cottage was only forty years old couldn’t believe it wasn’t four hundred
years old. This coffer on its own would have been reason enough for the National Trust to acquire Stoneywell Cottage. It’s made of walnut in 1912 by a man called Joseph Armitage. And his real specialism, what he was so good at, was carving bands of leaves. Oak leaves and acorns, which only a few years later he was to enter into a National Trust competition to design the Trust’s new logo It’s really very rare for the National Trust to take on a new property. And when we do, it’s the beginning of many months of work in its preparation before opening. That’s not to say that Stoneywell Cottage is a museum, it absolutely isn’t. It’s a family home and we hope that you will enjoy seeing it as it was in the 1950’s when Donald and Anne Gimson were first bringing up their young children here.