Millennials love to think they discovered everything and have even come up with a whizzy term – cottagecore – to describe an appreciation of the aesthetic beauty and romance of rural life.
Fuelled by the power of social media, the cottagecore trend is currently sweeping the United States, but this idealisation of style has been around in Britain for more than 150 years thanks to the Arts and Crafts movement. It was driven by William Morris and his followers, who set about championing the quality of design and celebrating traditional workmanship.
Hipsters before their time, every detail mattered; the Arts and Crafters wanted to design everything from door knobs to drawers, often using flowers and plants as inspiration. Railing against industrialisation and mass-produced furniture, pioneers headed to the Cotswolds and set up guilds to protect ancient trades. Morris’s Cotswolds home, the 16th Century Kelmscott Manor (sal.org.uk/kelmscott-manor), is currently closed for renovation, but there is still plenty for devotees to see when travel restrictions are lifted.
Winsford Cottage Hospital, Devon
Winsford Cottage Hospital, pictured, is located in the village of Beaworthy in Devon. It was once a local hospital treating First World War soldiers
Conservation charity the Landmark Trust has highlighted the Arts and Crafts trend with its new property in the village of Beaworthy.
Built in 1900 and designed by the eminent Arts and Crafts architect Charles Voysey, this was once a local hospital treating First World War soldiers wounded on the front line.
Voysey created everything from the motifs of hearts and trees to the windows and the doors. He also designed the wards so that patients could look out on to the sunny, south-facing garden.
Everything has now been serenely updated, with proper kitchens and tasteful bathrooms.
The property sleeps up to six people, and four-night stays cost from £503 (landmarktrust.org.uk).
Gravetye Manor, Sussex
One of the bedrooms at Gravetye Manor in East Grinstead, which dates back to the 16th Century. It was transformed into a hotel in 1958
Gravetye Manor is ancient – it dates back to the 16th Century – and in 1885 it was bought by William Robinson. Originally a gardener’s boy, Robinson became one of the most influential horticulturalists of his era and Gravetye was his home until he died in 1935.
The manor, near East Grinstead, was transformed into a hotel in 1958, and today the rooms still adhere to Arts and Crafts principles: they are grand yet serene.
Guests can also sign up for daily tours of the meadows, kitchen and flower gardens.
B&B doubles cost from £295 a night (gravetyemanor.co.uk).
Perrycroft in Malvern, which was built by Charles Voysey in 1893. It has been refurbished to contain plenty of modern conveniences
On a smaller scale, Perrycroft, near Malvern, was built by Charles Voysey in 1893 for John Wilson, an MP and industrialist. It’s a private home but it is open to the public between May and September. There are three holiday cottages on the estate too, including The Lodge, which was also built by Voysey.
Although The Lodge has been refurbished to contain plenty of modern conveniences, much care has been taken to maintain Voysey’s vision, thanks to whitewashed walls, green painted woodwork, red curtains, and antique furniture and fittings.
The property has three bedrooms and sleeps up to six people. A four-night stay costs from £585 (perrycroftholidaycottages.co.uk/the-lodge).
Llangoed Hall, Wales
Llangoed Hall was originally an ancient manor house near Hay-on-Wye. It has an art collection that includes works by Augustus John and James McNeill Whistler
Originally an ancient manor house near Hay-on-Wye, Llangoed Hall was rebuilt as a mansion in 1912 by Clough Williams-Ellis. He was fascinated by the notion of village life and would later go to build the Italianate village of Portmeirion in North Wales.
Keeping the Arts and Crafts flame alive, in the 1980s Bernard Ashley, husband of designer Laura Ashley, turned Llangoed Hall into a country house hotel, with kitchen gardens and an art collection that includes works by Augustus John and James McNeill Whistler.
The property has since changed ownership but the ethos remains the same. B&B doubles cost from £160 a night (llangoedhall.co.uk).
Standen House, West Sussex
Inside Standen House, which was built in 1891 by Philip Webb, an influential Arts and Crafts designer
Philip Webb was another influential Arts and Crafts designer and in 1891 he built Standen House, near East Grinstead, for a wealthy family.
Now owned by the National Trust, the place is an Arts and Crafts time capsule, with William Morris furnishings and wallpaper, and you can still see the original electric light fittings. Guests staying in the property’s Morris Apartment can explore the gardens after visitors have left for the day.
The one-bedroom apartment sleeps up to four people and features an elegant sitting room and a light and airy kitchen. A two-night stay costs from £494 (nationaltrust.org.uk/holidays/the-morris-apartment-sussex).
Rodmarton House, Gloucestershire
This house was built by Ernest Barnsley, a follower of Morris, and is still owned by the family who commissioned it in 1909.
Rodmarton is packed with early 20th Century treasures, including furniture and pottery by Alfred and Louise Powell, wall hangings by Hilda Benjamin, lead and brass designed by Norman Jewson, and ironwork by Fred and Frank Baldwin and Alfred Bucknell.
Visitors can take tours of both house and garden, and craft events take place regularly (rodmarton-manor.co.uk).
The beautiful gardens at Hidcote in Chipping Campden, which are among the most charming in Britain
The 17th Century property was bought by Lawrence Johnston in 1907 and he quickly set about putting into practice all that he had learned from books by Arts and Crafts devotees.
Today, the gardens at Hidcote, in Chipping Campden, are among the most charming in Britain – a series of colourful and intricately designed outdoor ‘rooms’.
The site is now owned by the National Trust (nationaltrust.org.uk/hidcote) and continues to attract 175,000 visitors a year. Also in Chipping Campden is Court Barn (courtbarn.org.uk), a museum that showcases the Arts and Crafts period.
The William Morris Gallery, pictured, in Walthamstow, East London, houses the largest collection of his designs
However much the Arts and Crafters loved the countryside, they couldn’t escape London entirely. The William Morris Gallery is housed in Morris’s very grand childhood home in Walthamstow, East London, and has the largest collection of his designs (wmgallery.org.uk).
Following their marriage, Morris and his wife Jane went on to live at Red House in Bexleyheath, Kent.
Built in 1860 by Morris and Philip Webb, it’s another jewel, with paintings and murals by Pre-Raphaelites Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Rossetti and a touch of utopianism – the servants’ rooms are unusually light and airy (nationaltrust.org.uk/red-house).
Martin Randall Travel has been conducting Arts and Crafts tours of the Cotswolds since 2016, offering guests a chance to visit museums, churches and private houses.
A four-night tour in September starts at £1,890pp including all transport and accommodation, and most meals. The itinerary includes visits to a branch of the world-famous Ashmolean Museum in Broadway, which includes a collection on vernacular British decorative arts, and the Museum and Art Gallery in Cheltenham, which has a nationally important Arts and Crafts collection (martinrandall.com/arts-and-crafts-in-the-cotswolds).
Meanwhile, Historic Houses also arranges tours of privately owned Arts and Crafts houses, including Owlpen Manor in Gloucestershire (historichouses.org).
Hill House in Helensburgh, near Loch Lomond. It was built by renowned architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret
Renowned architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret built Hill House in Helensburgh, near Loch Lomond, between 1902 and 1904 for publisher Walter Blackie.
The house is considered to be his domestic masterpiece – Mackintosh and his wife built the furnishings too and even gave the owners instructions on what colour flowers should be put in to vases.
However, the exterior materials used have not withstood the test of time, so the National Trust for Scotland is embarking on a ten-year restoration project. A protective steel structure has been built over the house so that work can continue away from the elements (nts.org.uk/visit/places/the-hill-house).
TREASURE TROVES OF THE LAKES
Troutbeck Church in Cumbria, which has Arts and Crafts interiors
They were built largely as holiday homes for Manchester industrialists, and nowhere in Britain has a better collection of Arts and Crafts mansions than the Lake District.
Even though many of them are still private homes, you can visit Blackwell (blackwell.org.uk). Overlooking Windermere, it was built in 1898 by Baillie Scott for a brewing magnate.
It’s an Arts and Crafts treasure trove, with peacock friezes, an all-white drawing room and leaf-shaped door handles.
The garden is just as important, with a series of terraces framing the water below. Blackwell’s craft connections are kept current with a shop that showcases contemporary artists, particularly ceramicists.
There are many churches in the area worth seeing too – those at Staveley and Troutbeck have Arts and Crafts interiors, including stained-glass windows by Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites.
Brantwood was the home of the art critic John Ruskin. Overlooking Coniston Water, it has eight gardens to explore plus a museum containing his art and belongings.
If you want to soak up the view a bit longer, you can even stay here. The Lodge sleeps up to nine while the Eyrie is a one-bedroom apartment overlooking the water. Two-night stays start at £247 (brantwood.org.uk).
Birkdale House in Bowness- on-Windermere shows off its Arts and Crafts roots with fireplaces and stained-glass windows, although the cellar’s transformation into a cinema room may not fit in entirely with Morris’s views on modernity.
Three-night breaks at the property, which sleeps ten, start at £3,675 (birkdalewindermere.co.uk).