My friend Zoe asked if I fancied accompanying her to visit a fairly local National Trust property, Standen, and I agreed. After all, it would be nice to go somewhere that didn’t have toddler fingerprints over everything…
We drove out to Standen, in East Grinstead (it was the first time I’d been out that way; all I knew about East Grinstead is that it’s where a major Scientology centre is.) The journey was lovely- it was the morning after the massive storms and all the plants were lush. Everywhere was quiet.
After about an hour, we arrived at Standen, a house and garden built in the 1890s by the Beale family, initially as a summer residence, although they took up permanent residence there after Mr Beale retired. What makes it an attractive place to visit is the fact that inside it’s decorated in the Arts and Crafts style and is therefore a haven for a William Morris fanatic like me.
I love the calm of stately houses and the fact that they’re SO PRISTINE. You’d get through quite a few feather dusters at Standen, I can tell you. By the way, does anyone else ever go to these sort of places and try and imagine what it would be like to have lived their at the time each house was built? It can’t JUST be me, surely?
The house is truly lovely and if I didn’t live with a man whose favourite colour was beige, I would totally emulate the Arts and Crafts style in the new house. As it was, I took inspiration from the accessories and artwork around the house. If you keep your eyes peeled, you can definitely spot some Rossetti and Burne-Jones art, which was definitely super exciting for a Pre-Raphaelite nerd like me.
As well as the house itself, the gardens are well worth a visit- I was endlessly snapping photos of plants in order to get ideas for when (ha!) we move. I sat in the Victorian conservatory and looked out onto what seems like endless greenery. I could have quite happily taken my own needlework in there and worked for hours.
As well as visiting the house and gardens, there’s an exhibition about Helen Beale (one of the daughters of the original owners) and her time as a nurse during the First World War. We were lucky to arrive at Standen on the day this small exhibition opened and it was fascinating and poignant.
Finally, we had lunch in the cafe- it was not as expensive as I’d thought it would be AND it was delicious!
Now I have plans to visit The Red House and Kelmscott Manor, both houses lived in by the great William Morris.