Classic design for Lakes B&B

16 October 2017 1:58PM

Nanny Brow is full of Arts and Crafts features. Since buying the property in 2009, Sue and Peter Robinson have worked to restore original intricate plaster friezes, tiled fireplaces, windows, doors and floors.

The couple didn’t stop there and have sourced Arts and Crafts period furniture, fireplaces and picture frames from a network of specialists to finish off their 14-bedroom five-star B&B near Ambleside.

The result is that Nanny Brow is a magnet for Arts and Crafts enthusiasts, who often visit Blackwell, the Arts and Crafts house near Bowness-on-Windermere, during their stay. “Lots of people stay because it’s an Arts and Crafts house,” says Sue. “A lot of people have either been to Blackwell and they say have you been to Nanny Brow or vice versa.”

A bar area links the original house, which was built in 1904 for architect Francis Whitwell as his family home, with the north wing, which was added in the 1980s.

Although there was already a bar in that location, Sue and Peter refurbished the room and took out a patio door, replacing it with windows to match those in the main house.

Sue wanted continuity between the house and the bar and sourced some classic Arts and Crafts pieces. Furniture includes a Chinese altar table and other pieces from antiques importer Sharon Fitzsimmons.

Sue found a pair of tea caddies at Miles Griffiths Antiques and sent them to a specialist to be converted into lamps using traditional style brass fittings and electrical cord.

A large mirror, which came from a cabinet that was beyond repair, was bought from a dealer who contacted Sue, knowing that she might be interested. She monitors key dealers’ websites and gets in touch with them when she and Peter are preparing to do up a room, so they can be on the lookout for what she needs.

A chair and cushions for the inglenook have been covered in William Morris fabric bought from Woodbridge & Mounsey in Kendal. The two inglenook seats have been made from a pew believed to be from St Mary’s Church in Ambleside, which Sue found in a Penrith reclamation yard and was pleased to bring back to its home area.

An original Shapland and Petter fireplace, with an unusual bow front, was bought from a dealer in London. It was a piece Sue and Peter kept in storage for 18 months before they were able to use it.

Period tiles for the fireplace were imported from France. A brass slippers box was a Christmas present from Sue to Peter and has been placed by the fireplace, where it would have been kept originally to warm the slippers inside.

Sue has introduced an Art Deco element with a pair of bucket chairs. She likes the Art Deco style, which she says continues on from the Arts and Crafts period.

When Sue and Peter bought Nanny Brow in 2009, it had been empty for several years. They’ve carried out work to the six-acre gardens, reinstating long-lost paths and taking out trees to reveal more of the views of the River Brathay, the hills behind Tarn Hows, Wrynose Pass and the Langdales.

“It’s always exceptionally hard work but we’ve no regrets at all. I think probably it’s turned out better than I thought,” Sue said. “I’ve grown in confidence in what I feel I can do design-wise. I’ve done it and it’s been so well received, it’s spurred me on.”

Getting Nanny Brow back into perfect condition has been a labour of love.

“Nobody owns this place,” says Sue. “This is an historic house. We’ve always said we’re custodians. We’ve restored her and it means she’s going to be here for future generations.”

This article first appeared in Cumbria Life.

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