Monday 29 May 2017

A visit to Standen

In yesterday's post I told you about our walk on Saturday. On Sunday we were wide awake at 6 am so after a couple of cups of tea John decided to go for an early morning walk leaving me to do some stitching. Sitting by the open window with the morning sun streaming in, and listening to the bird song whilst stitching was most enjoyable. On his walk John had taken a photo of the village sign. When we got home we had to look up the village history as the sign made it look a bustling industrial area rather than the sleepy village it is today. Back in the 16th century there were 5 iron furnaces within 2 miles of the church, which was opposite the hotel.

The village is old with its church being founded in 1100 and the present nave and tower being built between 1375 and 1415. John took a picture of the rose window. The yellow and red on either side are the bunting that was hanging from the trees in front of the church in preparation for the village fair today, Bank Holiday Monday.

When John got back we went for breakfast. Mmmm the Eggs Benedict was delicious. Whilst enjoying breakfast we planned our day. Saturday was rather tiring for me as the walk had involved several steep ascents and descents. We had stopped regularly to rest, but for Sunday we wanted something less challenging but fun. We also wanted to visit the A A Milne memorial in the forest and John wanted to walk to the highest point of area. Neither of these involved much walking as the map indicated that there were car parks close to both. Breakfast over, our belongings packed in the car and a good dollop of sun screen generously applied to all skin that was showing we headed for the first stopping place.

The map was accurate and within a short distance of the first car park we reached the 360 degree viewing point. Over the years the gorse and small trees have grown up so I couldn't get the whole 360 view but I made use of the broken topograph to increase my height and so get a better view. I managed to climb up without difficulty but as I stood up I'd felt a little giddy but the view was worth it.

There was still a lot of fog around as the sun hadn't burnt it off so the view wasn't as clear as I had hoped but it was still good. After that we drove a little further to the next car park so we could walk a short distance to the memorial.

From the memorial there were views across the landscape.

From here we walked a little further to the triangulation or trig point. These are usually concrete pillars and were set up by the ordnance survey to be able to map the whole of the UK. If you want to find out how this was done click here

Trig points are not necessarily at the highest point as clear line of sight was important. As you can see the highest ground is behind the trig point and was a covered with trees. I'd watched some children playing hide and seek amongst the tree as we'd walked up so decided to hide from John. In the end I had to peep round the tree for him to find me.

After all the excited of hide and seek we headed out to our final destination of the day Standen House. Standen is now owned by the National Trust and you can find out more about it here  This is the view of Standen that we took later in the afternoon as we complete the Hollybush Wood walk. I didn't get a photo of the house from the terrace.

The house was built between 1892-94 for a prosperous London solicitor, James Beale. It was designed by Philip Webb, an English architect who is sometimes referred to as the father of Arts and Crafts Architecture. Webb was a friend of William Morris and the house is decorated throughout with Morris carpets, wallpapers and fabrics. I love William Morris designs so this was a real feast for my eyes. The main entrance to the house was through a courtyard.

Throughout the house there was embroidery with a lot of it having been completed by Margaret, James' wife and their three daughters. The house would have been a lively place as they also had 4 sons. Some of the cushions were made using kits put together by Morris and Co so that ladies could stitch their designs. I love the sewing table, perfect for threads and your latest project.

To the left of this room above there was a wall hanging that I couldn't get a good picture of. The colours were very faded and this area of the room was protected from the light. One of the volunteers at the house had stitched this small sampler of the hanging to show the original colours

I loved this blue bedspread but it must have taken ages to stitch.

In the same bedroom was this beautiful hand embroidered cushion. You can see the sensor in the bottom right corner to make sure that the fabric didn't get damaged by light.

In the dressing room next day this piece was behind glass. The colours have faded but the hand work was beautiful when viewed close up. 

This heavily embroidered bedspread was delightful.

and I liked the sentiment on this piece. 

This last piece was a set of seat covers for the dining chairs and the volunteer giving information in this room told me they were stitched by Margaret and her daughters.

As we reached the work end of the house i.e. the business room and the kitchen I spotted this writing desk and fell in love with it. There was a large desk in the room but the grain on the wood of this one was beautiful and I love the drawers and little cupboards. It would fit perfectly into my home.

After our tour of the house we needed lunch so visited the cafe for pea, mint and lettuce soup served with a wedge of homemade bread. It was very tasty and filling. After lunch we explored the gardens and also took a walk along Hollybush Wood walk. As we headed out to the wood we passed the Rhododendrons which were a riot of colour

The wood walk was about a mile long and under the trees it was lovely and cool. For most of the walk there was a boardwalk which made the going very easy. Standen is built at the top of a hill and the first part of the walk descended into the valley. The walk had been thought out well and the ascent back up to the house was very gentle. Along the way we encountered this lizard coming out of the undergrowth. It was a very clever and creative use of a fallen tree.

As we came out of the wood we entered a wild flower meadow to head back to the house. There was a lot of buzzing from all the bees.

Our day at Standen ended by visiting the gift shop. From about end of May onward I am always on the lookout for small gifts to put into my Christmas present box. I found two very nice recipe books that are perfect. Obviously I can't say what they are or who they will be gifted to as that would ruin the surprise for the end of the year.

For our trip away we hadn't travelled far, and Standen was on our way home so our return journey was just over the hour. We could have done the trips as two days out but staying overnight meant we relaxed completely on Saturday night and weren't tempted to do any work. I really enjoyed the trip and I'm already trying to plan when we can do it again and where we'd visit.

Today in the UK is a Bank Holiday and I'm looking forward to spending some of this afternoon sewing. I want to finish my tote bag and I have some blocks I want to make. I can't wait to get my machine out.



  1. What a wonderful visit! There is nothing in America as old as the 11th Century, except possibly burial grounds of some of the indigenous peoples, and so these very old villages and structures are fascinating to me. Thank you for sharing your walks with us.

  2. Great pix of the country side and all the details of the house with Morris embroidery designs. I think I might borrow that saying to put on one of my quilts! Looks like a lovely place to visit, it will be added to my list (already very long) for my next visit to the UK. Thanks for sharing your adventure, 'hope you had a good day of sewing!

  3. What a wonderful weekend for you both - staying in such lovely countryside. But the icing on the cake must have been seeing all those beautiful embroidered William Morris designs displayed throughout that grand house.

  4. What marvelous needle work. This was a fantastic post and I plan to research the places you mentioned. Being a history buff I so enjoy learning about new places.