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Visit Standen, the Arts and Crafts masterpiece

Standen House
A dresser with Arts and Crafts ceramics and other decorative items
A corner of one of the rooms inside Standen. You can see the Morris and Co curtains and fabric on the chair

Standen is an important , large Arts and Crafts property, owned by the National Trust, located in East Grinstead, 20 minutes’ drive south-west from The Design Gallery.

Standen began construction in 1891, designed by Philip Webb as a weekend house for The Beale family. Webb was also the architect of the medieval styled Red House in Bexleyheath, Kent, designed for William Morris and his new bride Jane Burden (a National Trust building). He was a founder member of ‘Anti-Scrape’, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings or SPAB.

The house was one of the first with central heating and electricity, the latter installed in 1893 by WAS Benson Lighting. The house has been restored but has retained its Arts and Crafts interior, designed/commissioned so carefully by Webb.

MORRIS & CO WALLPAPERS   All of the wallpaper was supplied by Morris & Co.  The Beales had commissioned the firm to decorate their London home, 32 Holland Park. While Morris drew the native plants found in the Red House garden, he was less skilled at drawing animals and his assistant John Henry Dearle drew the birds for the Trellis wallpaper found in Morning Room and Conservatory Corridors.  The designs were hand-printed from wooden blocks by Jeffrey & Co is Islington. Pomegranate is found in the Billiard Room alcove and Sunflower covers most of the Drawing Room. Batchelor’s Button appears in the Staircase Hall, up the stairs and along the Bedroom Corridor. Looptrail and Merton were used for the bedrooms of the Beales’ two sons, Grafton for the Day Nursery and Oak Tree for the Servants’ Hall. The Powdered wallpaper hangs in the North Bedroom.

TEXTILES Margaret Beale, who founded the Royal School of Art Needlework in 1872, embroidered one of Morris’s finest, early hangings, now in the Victoria & Albert Museum. Maggie Beale, her daughter, had studied Fine Art at the Slade and in paris and designed her own cushion covers, bedspreads and stool-tops, inspired by the flowers in the garden at Standen. The ladies of Standen embroidered the Artichoke silk on linen hanging in the North Bedroom, around 1896. Daffodil chintz (designed by Dearle) was ordered for the Morning Room walls.

FURNITURE   This was a relatively small part of the Morris & Co enterprise. Pieces designed by Agnes Garrett and her suffragist cousin Rhoda Garrett, was probably bought in the 1870s and probably came to Standen when the London house was sold in 1912. Furniture was also purchased from manufacturers Collinson & Lock, Liberty and Heal’s. Furniture designers included E W Godwin.

Standen also has a large collection of art pottery by William de Morgan, Burmantofts and Brannam and pictures by Pre-Raphelite and Arts & Crafts Movement artists including Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Frederick Sandys, Henry Holiday and William Blake Richmond.

In the Drawing Room: copper light fittings, desigend by Webb and made by John Pearson.

In the Dining Room: repousse metal ‘cheeks’ designed by Webb for the fireplace.

Standen has an extensive garden, divided into a number of areas and designed originally by landscape gardener G B Simpson. The southerly views over the High Weald of Sussex and the Ashdown Forest are glorious. There are beautiful walks: the Hollybush Wood walk of about a mile, while the Weirwood Reservoir walk is extensive. The Rose Garden was re-instated recently.

We have drawn on the official guide book “Standen West Sussex” for this short post. The book tells of the silver snuffbox given to Webb by the grateful family. It is inscribed: ‘When clients talk irritating nonsense I take a pinch of snuff.’  Further details will be added soon.

For up to date opening days and times, visit The National Trust website www.nationaltrust.org.uk








About Us

The Design Gallery was launched in 2002 to specialise in progressive design movements of the 19th and 20th Century. We met whilst studying at Sotheby’s Institute of Art and discovered that we shared a passion for design, especially Art Deco, Art Nouveau and the Arts & Crafts Movement.

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