A visit to Blackwell House and State of the Knitting

Well February came and went, didn’t it?  I won’t bother with the usual excuses and laments about my blog absence — it seems intermittent blogging is my norm, for the moment.  But to those of you who’ve stuck around — thanks!

On Sunday, Mr. N and I braved a rather gray and rainy day and tootled up the road to the Lake District, our sights set on visiting Blackwell, an Arts and Crafts second home built for a Manchester brewing magnate in 1901.

The house (which I, er, didn’t take a picture of the exterior of) commands views of Windermere — which looked no less dramatic for the weather.

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We’d missed a turn on our way to the house, and as a result overshot it by quite a distance — by the time we arrived, we were pretty peckish, so we stopped in at the cafe for a cream tea.  The scones were delicious!

Stomachs lined, we bought our admission tickets and, after speaking a bit with the very helpful staff member, began exploring.

The large main hall:

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The wonderfully light Drawing Room (my favorite). Architect Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott deliberately built the house with attention to natural light, making sure the principal rooms benefited most from it. Even on a gray day, the Drawing Room felt wonderfully bright and airy:

IMG_7307The Arts and Crafts movement is famous for its emphasis on traditional craft skills, and so unsurprisingly, the house was filled with beautiful details.  From elaborate wood carvings, like this one in the Main Hall:

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To beautiful painted Hessian wall hangings

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The Dining Room
To tiled fireplaces

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As beautiful as all of the details were, my favorites were the many stained glass windows peppered through house. I’ve always loved stained glass — I was gutted when I had to leave the Tiffany-style bedside table lamp that I’d had in every bedroom since adolescence back in the US when we moved since the plug wouldn’t work in the UK (it’s waiting for me at my parents). I stopped at every window to admire the floral designs.

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The thing I enjoyed most about the house, though, was that it’s been very deliberately set up as a place where visitors can explore, interact, and relax. The house is filled with nooks and crannies that you’re encouraged to sit and spend time in:

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A nook in the Drawing Room 

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Mr. N looks out on Herdwicks grazing in front of Lake Windermere in the Drawing Room 

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A carved bench by the Delft tiled fireplace in the Dining Room (with more stained glass!) 
Seats that shouldn’t be sat on are clearly marked; exhibits that shouldn’t be touched are labeled accordingly. But on the whole, the emphasis is on visitors using the space, which was really lovely to see!

We ended our visit with a good peruse of the gift shop, which is filled with books on the Arts and Crafts movement and really stunning items made by local artisans — beautiful ceramics, woodwork, and woollen goods (!).  As we browsed, we had a really lovely chat with the staff member on duty; she kindly recommended other areas to visit in the area that we might like!

If you find yourself in the Lake District, I definitely recommend a visit to Blackwell — we’ll certainly be back!  After our pleasant meanderings, we headed to a Sunday lunch at a nearby inn and had the most delicious cauliflower cheese I’ve ever tasted (the secret, apparently, was fresh thyme in the cheese sauce) — a delicious ending to a delightful day out.

Of course, I didn’t leave the house without a bit of knitting … my slowly growing Threipmuir came along with us!

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I’ve simultaneously reached the “am I going to finish this by EYF” and “am I going to run out of yarn” stages of this project. With about 150 grams of grey left, I’ve decided to put the body on hold and begin the sleeves.  While it looks quite short in this photo due to the stockinette rolling, I could work the ribbing on the body, call it a day, and end up with a cropped sweater — which is fine, as I imagine wearing it with dresses quite a bit. If I can squeeze the sleeves out and have anything left over though, I’ll add a bit more length to the body.  I’m slightly more worried about finishing in good time. My goal is to cast off by the March 17 deadline of KnitBritish’s Fieldwork 100% Wool MAL, which should give me plenty of time to block and dry the sweater before EYF. That means I need to be done knitting in 11 days … and I’m just not sure I’ll make it. Here’s hoping!

Thanks, as always, for stopping by.  I’d love to hear what you’re working on at the moment in the comments!

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7 thoughts on “A visit to Blackwell House and State of the Knitting

  1. Look at you incorporating British slang and rompin about in fun exploration. That is a neat house and it’s interesting how it’s laid out as some of it seems vintage wood and modern tile. The stained glass windows are beautiful.

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    1. It’s interesting because they sourced as much of the house materials from the area as they could when it was built at the turn of the century. And I think you’re right — parts of the house feel so modern, while other parts seem much older! It’s a really cool place

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  2. Wow! Those are beautiful pictures ๐Ÿ™‚ I also adore stained glass (I asked DH for a stained glass lamp for Valentine’s Day and he delivered) and those are some stunning example. Your sweater is gorgeous too!

    I don’t know if you saw my sock post last month; however hubby and I will be coming to London at the beginning of May before we pop over to Paris for my 50th birthday ๐Ÿ™‚ I know that Kat and Meg want to get together and wondered if you might want to as well if you have time? I would love to meet you in person ๐Ÿ™‚ We were thinking about doing an evening at a pub or yarn shop where we can knit and chat?

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  3. A nice tour, thanks. I love the carvings and the stained glass too – and how great that you can sit about and admire things – most ‘stately homes’ or other houses aren’t so ‘user friendly’ which I do understand to protect the house and contents, but it does make it a little disappointing if you are rushed through in a crowd past roped off areas when you’d really like to stay a little longer. Oddly, just before I read your blog I was looking at a website of a stained glass maker – you might want to take a peek too – https://www.stainedglasshastings.co.uk/picture-gallery-1/

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