Wednesday, 28 May 2014

last tango in tisbury

We spent last weekend in Wiltshire, not too far from where we were at the beginning of the month. We were staying with our good friends Edward and Charlotte, at Edward's parents' charming house in Tisbury. I cannot tell you how much I'm enjoying getting out of London on the weekends at the moment - it's such a cliché, but it's so good for the soul, and one gets to enjoy the countryside in all its springtime glory.

Edward's parents' living room. I think Ed's mother was an interior designer for several years, which explains why this room looks so warm and inviting.

Clearly, we had rather a good time on Saturday night. Several roast chickens and carrots from the farm next door and lots of wine. The rooms at the back of the house, including the kitchen, enjoy this incredible view over the hills. We woke next day to a view of brilliant green, soft grey mist and hoards of lambs.

After a long lunch at The Beckford Arms complete with several post-feast games of pétanque and a healthy country walk, we spent most of Sunday afternoon lounging around, surrounded by stacks of books and newspapers. I discovered this copy of Love in a Cold Climate stuffed away in a downstairs bathroom - what a cover!

In other news: I'm in dire need of an orange Smeg fridge.

On Monday morning we headed back to London via Salisbury; we wanted to take a look at the cathedral, and even more excitingly, the Cecil Beaton at Home exhibition, which has just opened at the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum. I've always loved the cathedral (I used to spend the odd weekend in Salisbury as a teenager), but my favourite thing about the place this time might have been the brightly coloured needlepoint prayer cushions - this swan version in particular. Outside, the surrounding Cathedral Close (the largest in Britain) was quiet and lovely.

Another weekend in Wiltshire, another Cecil Beaton exhibition. I cannot recommend this one enough. It presents a biographical view of the legendary designer, photographer and artist through his two Wiltshire homes - Ashcombe and Reddish. Simultaneously a retreat, an inspiration and a stage for impressive entertaining, these two houses also fuelled his passion for gardening and delight in village life.

Ashcombe as portrayed by Rex Whistler.

Gosh, there were so many incredible things to see. Particularly fascinating were the recreations of Beaton's extravagant interiors at Ashcombe - the famous Circus Bed, complete with gilt unicorns and seahorses - being the highlight. (The Circus Bed was actually manufactured by a maker of fairground carousels, a detail which I totally love). I left feeling completely invigorated and inspired, with a copy of Beaton's Ashcombe: The Story of a Fifteen-Year Lease in my pocket. Now we're wondering, could we rent a folly, a tower or a little gatehouse in the countryside? I suppose perhaps not for a while, but it's something to aim towards at least...

Beaton in the Circus Bedroom at Ashcombe. I think I'd eventually love to have a Circus (Guest) Bedroom, complete, of course, with ridiculous bed.


  1. Hello Luke:

    We really are rather envious of your having seen the latest Beaton exhibition in Salisbury. This is something about which we have read and which we should dearly love to see. From all that you show and say here, it really does look to be fantastic. Indeed, we have been wondering whether we can get to Salisbury when we are next in Brighton in July. Not so easy without a motor car. Years ago we acquired a First Edition of 'Ashcombe: The Story of a Fifteen-Year Lease' which is an intriguing read.

    Your friend's mother's drawing room is most appealing - so very English.

  2. Hi Luke
    So glad you came to the show and enjoyed it, there's lots of information in there for anyone interested in interiors, fashion, photography, art... and so on! How funny you were in Tisbury, which is where Beaudesert and the Cecil Beaton Fabric Collection are both based, who curated and created the show at Salisbury Museum. And for anyone who can't get there, a catalogue is in production, so keep up with it all at

  3. Hi Roger,

    Yes I loved the exhibition - most enlightening!

    I work for Ben Pentreath - in his interior decoration department - we've specified a bed or two from Beaudesert before. I loved their work in the show...