The Dining Room is decorated by a rare hessian wall hanging. Designed by Baillie Scott the hanging would have once been a dark blue with colourful motifs. Alongside this, the historic fireplace features original Delft tiles and pink sandstone lintels.
The Main Hall
The Main Hall was the hub of this historic house, where all the family and their friends could come together. The room is filled with ornate original carvings and décor inspired by nature. The combination of the intimate window inglenook, ‘treehouse’ Minstrel’s gallery and succession of spaces creates the sense of a Medieval courtyard.
The White Drawing Room
The end of the ground floor oak panelled passage widens to form an anteroom where light floods in on the white walls from the windows overlooking lake Windermere. This room is a delicate sanctuary of shimmering light and in comparison to a gloomy and cluttered Victorian parlour, it feels impressively modern.
The Master Bedroom
This display has been inspired by Baillie Scott’s designs and recreated by contemporary designers in the room that was originally the master bedroom. The central feature is the specially commissioned bed by furniture restorer and maker, Robert Leach.
The bedroom and dressing room was one of the principal suites and enjoys spectacular views of the lake. From paint analysis it is clear that the room would have originally been yellow, as it is today.
Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott (1865 – 1945) had already made a name for himself when Blackwell was completed in 1901. He achieved this by publishing his sketches and ideas in The Studio, a magazine read by everyone interested in art, architecture and interior design. Blackwell offered him the opportunity to put his ideas on the use of space, light and texture into practice on a grand scale. He experimented in ways which might not have been possible had the property been intended as the client’s main home, rather than a holiday home away from urban life.
Blackwell was built as a Lake District rural holiday retreat for the Manchester brewery owner, Sir Edward Holt (1849 – 1928), his wife Elizabeth and their five children. A wealthy industrialist, Holt was active in local government and had the honour of being made Lord Mayor of Manchester for two consecutive years, 1907-9. Sir Edward, who was made a baronet in 1916, worked for numerous good causes. These included improving buildings, libraries, water and sewage works for the people of Manchester.
Perched overlooking lake Windermere, this Grade I listed building is a masterpiece of artistic design. Architect Baillie Scott designed Blackwell as a holiday home for Manchester brewer Sir Edward Holt, Lady Elizabeth Holt and their five children in 1901.
The historic house itself makes a strong statement. It is asymmetrical in design and the gables of the first floor rooms form a complicated roof profile. Influences from local architecture are evident in the tall round chimneys and the use of local slate and sandstone.
The principal rooms of the house are south facing, making the most of the natural light to enhance the features of each room. Baillie Scott’s clever design encourages you to explore the house, drawing you to its west side with breath-taking views. The light and the views are constantly changing in the dramatic Lake District weather, meaning no two visits are the same.
Blackwell retains many of its original decorative features. During the late nineteenth century there was a resurgence of interest in hand-made crafts, encouraged by such figures as William Morris and John Ruskin. In a reaction to the mass produced and impersonal designs available at the time, artists, designers and makers drew inspiration from the skilled makers of the past. They reinvigorated traditional techniques and process of making, and placed an emphasis on quality and natural beauty.
Throughout the house the architect, Baillie Scott, has incorporated a wide variety of crafts. These include tiles in the fireplaces, carved stone and wood panelling, stained glass, mosaic floors, wrought iron and lead work, hessian wall hangings and the beautiful plaster work of the White Drawing Room. Each of these details are carefully woven into the fabric of the historic building rather than being ‘applied’ simply as decoration.
The rooms also contain furniture and objects by many of the leading Arts & Crafts designers and studios. These include metalwork by WAS Benson, ceramics by Pilkingtons and Ruskin Pottery and furniture by Morris & Co., Stanley Webb Davies, Ernest Gimson and Baillie Scott himself.
The original gardens were laid out by Arts & Crafts garden designer, Thomas Mawson, in a series of terraces to achieve the very best views from the house, looking over the lake towards the Coniston fells. Today, Blackwell is bordered by beautiful flower beds set against a terrace of York stone paving, providing shelter for garden chairs and tables surrounded by fragrant flowers and herbs. On the lower terrace there is a long sweep of lawn where visitors can stroll and take in the intoxicating beauty of the Lake District, whatever the season.
In the Holt family’s time the south lawn was used for croquet and the lower lawn was two grass tennis courts. Trees were carefully sited in the fields owned by the Holt family (now privately owned) to enhance the natural beauty of the landscape extending down from the terraced garden.
The history of Blackwell
When Lakeland Arts acquired Blackwell in 1999 it did not contain any original Arts & Crafts furnishings. Today the objects in the house’s period rooms are drawn from our own collection, as well as a selection of exceptional loans from other galleries, institutions and private lenders. When you visit, you’ll discover beautiful furniture and objects from leading designers and makers. These include leading members of the Arts & Crafts Movement, such as MH Baillie Scott, Archibald Knox and William De Morgan, and local makers and designers, such as Annie Garnett and Arthur Simpson of Kendal.