Monday morning and three of us set out for north Sussex and Standen House – built to designs by the Arts and Crafts architect Philip Webb for James Beale between 1892 and 1894. James Beale was a member of the family law firm in Birmingham which had become wealthy through involvement in the growth of railways. His was the Midland railway and he oversaw the creation of St Pancras Station.
Webb always used local materials, the stone came from a quarry (now a quarry garden) just yards from the house, bricks from Horsham and Keymer, 58,000 tiles from Keymer (replaced in the 90s using the same tile works) and local oak. Some materials seem strange – he specified chimney flues be lined with “well made fresh cow-dung mortar . . . well pressed home and the angles well packed”.
The reason for going was to take the guided tour of servants quarters and the water tower, with grand views, but of course we had coffee and toasted teacake first. The grounds include a great vegetable garden with some old and beautiful espalier apple trees.
On the way home we stopped at Nyman’s, which has been advertising late Friday opening to see an illuminated art installation. This wasn’t a Friday and it wasn’t dark, but we decided to take a look. The description of the art was more impressive than the daylight appearance, “By day the installations exhale an intangible delicacy, whilst at night they reveal their sumptuous fluorescent brilliance”.
I found some night pictures by Adam Hersey which make it look a lot more interesting. I borrowed, but there are more on his blog.