There is a unique little stone cottage in Leicestershire in the United Kingdom that looks as if it were raised from the pages of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. It is located in the Ulverscroft parish and lies in the center of the Charnwood Forest surrounded by huge trees and wildlife. Designed by the famous architect-designer Ernest Gimson, Stoneywell is a beautiful example of architecture from the Arts and Crafts Movement of the 1880s.
Gimson was a leading architect of this movement, which believed in using local materials to build homes and avoid the effects of industrialization. Several workshops in the country still believed in using individual workers. Many architects and designers joined the movement who didn’t want handmade work to be lost.
Stoneywell was built for Sydney Gimson, the architect’s brother, who wanted a summer cottage for his family to escape to during the warmer months in the year. The house was built from local stone that was dug up from the garden, and its rocky look matches the surrounding landscape. On the stone facade, there are many windows with white frames, each of which was made to give a different view.
The original roof was changed with local slates in 1938 after it was damaged by fire. Upon entering, the difference between the interior and the exterior is immediately apparent. From the exterior, the house looks small, although it seems much larger from the inside.
The rooms are wonderfully made, with white walls and wooden shelves and floors that look as if they were made of marble. Today, the house is managed by the National Trust, who are working to restore it to the way it was when Donald Gimson moved there with his family.
Visitors can enter the rooms and admire the amazing woodwork, the shelves filled with many books, and the beautiful decorations. The first floor consists of the dining room, kitchen, and the spacious lounge containing several pieces of furniture that date from the 1880s. On the upper level are the children’s rooms, five bedrooms, and the bathroom.
The children’s room has two separate beds and is filled with books and games. On the floor, there is a working model railway, which was a popular toy in the 1950s. The house was owned by the Gimson family until 2012 when it was sold it to the National Trust. The organization had many debates about how best to preserve Stoneywell.
Some wanted to keep it as it was, while another option was to return it to how it looked in the 19th century when Sydney Gimson lived there with his family. In the end, they decided to present the house as it was in the 1950s. After the house was restored, many volunteers agreed to work in the gardens which were reopened in 2015.
There is a visitors’ center in the stable block of the house with a tea room and many Arts and Craft souvenirs for sale. Anyone who wants to see Stoneywell has to book a ticket several days before visitation. Larger groups are not allowed because there is no access to the house for big vehicles. Stoneywell was made a Grade II listed building in the mid-19th century, and it remains one of the best examples of residences built in the spirit of the Arts and Craft movement.