Visiting Blackwell Arts and Crafts House
I must admit that I was a reluctant visitor to Blackwell, the Arts and Crafts House. Though I'm a big fan of English historic art and architecture of many periods, the Arts and Crafts style is never one that has particularly appealed to me. However, my dear wife wanted to go, so like a dutiful husband I tugged my forelock (figuratively speaking) and agreed.
We were staying west of Keswick, so we drove through some lovely countryside past Hawkshead to the Windermere ferry Once off the ferry, its a short drive south along the lakeshore to Blackwell. The house is well signposted, and easy to find.

The first thing you notice, even before you reach the interior of the house, is the view. Blackwell is built on a terrace, looking out over Lake Windermere. The views are wonderful, and are enhanced by a lovely floral border.

From the outside, Blackwell is an interesting house, bristling with gables at every angle, but it is not particularly striking. It is when you come indoors that you begin to appreciate what a special place this is. For a start, many of the rooms have been adapted to serve as public galleries, featuring works of art by many historic and contemporary artists and designers, not necessarily limited to the Arts and Crafts Movement.

Apart from the furnishings, which are indeed striking, what really makes a visit to Blackwell a treat is the wonderful architectural detail. MH Baillie Scott, who designed the interiors for brewery owner Sir Edward Holt, was given almost free reign to express his ideas on light, space, and texture, and the result is a set of rooms at once airy and comfortable, with extraordinary attention to finishing detail. Every architectural join, every finial or structural element is like a work of art in itself. There are door handles crafted in the shape of leaves, extraordinary stained glass and plasterwork, and wooden panelling decorated with scrolling foliage.

Despite my previous ambivalence towards the Arts and Crafts movement, I found Blackwell an inspiring place to visit. The sheer quality of craftsmanship evident in the detail of the house is quite wonderful, and if you have more than a passing fancy for history, art, or architecture, you will enjoy a visit to Blackwell immensely.