Leicester Decorative and Fine Arts Society
A member of the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies
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Ruth Armitage, a founder member and past Chair died a few days ago. Ruth was an enthusiastic member of the Heritage Volunteers group.
Visits must be pre booked. The tour of the house is guided, the gardens are beautiful and the tea room is excellent! The house is small and the staircases are winding, it is an uphill walk to the house so it is not suitable for people with mobility problems.
Gimson’s drawing of Stoneywell July 1898
Why save Stoneywell?
Set in the Charnwood Forest, Stoneywell is the only remaining cottage of its kind in Leicestershire. It’s one of only a handful of notable Arts and Crafts houses in England. It will also be only the second place National Trust property we have in the county.
As well as the cottage, gardens, outbuildings and woodland, Stoneywell retains many of its original contents. There is also a significant archive which has a wealth of historical material.
The history of Stoneywell
Stoneywell, a Grade II* listed property, was designed in 1898 by the locally-
Gimson designed the cottage for his elder brother Sydney and wife Jeanie, and Stoneywell has remained within the family ever since.
The Gimson family
Ernest Gimson’s father, Josiah and his brother Benjamin, were also significant figures in Leicester during the 19th century when they set up the Gimson and Company factory in the city, making heavy machinery.
It was one of the largest employers in the city and prided itself on being a model employer in terms of wages and conditions of work. The firm cast the great beam engines which can still be seen at the Abbey Pumping Station and cast two bridges over the Grand Union Canal in Leicester.
Below is an article written for us by a member, Douglas Smith, who used to live in a Gimson house in Leicester.
Ernest Gimson 1864-
He was born in Leicester, the son of Josiah Gimson of the successful engineering firm.
Early influences were Letherby, Ruskin and William Morris from lecturers at the Secular Society.
Gimson was articled to Isaac Barradale the local architect before he moved to London and was articled to J D Sedding in 1885. In 1887 he travelled to France and Italy but returned to England and worked on modest projects.
White House. North Avenue. Leicester; 1897 Ernest Gimson designed for his brother Arthur is the best example of the two town houses. It has an ‘L shaped Plan with the end gable ploughing into the Avenue like the bow of a ship.
Stoneywell 1898 was built for Sidney A. Gimson Ernest Gimson. It is in my opinion the outstanding design of the cottages built in the Charnwood Forest.
The great chimney is like a buttress and develops from the rocky outcrop as it grows out of the forest rock. The plan twists to follow the contours of the site. This is the fascination of the building with changing levels and interesting movement of space. Originally the cottage has a thatched roof which enabled the designer to use the fluid lines evolved from the plan.
Gimson had too much respect for the past to to attempt to reproduce it. He believed each generation could and should make a contribution to a splendid tradition
A plan of the ground floor of Stoneywell. The plan relates to the photograph and sorry the words are upside down.
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There are now several films about NADFAS in YouTube Click here to views these short and informative films about different aspects of the organisation.
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