Cragside is a National Trust property designed by R. Norman Shaw, the renowned architect who happened to design our home. Ian and I have plans to renovate and remodel areas in the house and garden, so we paid a visit to get some inspiration and to see if we could spot any similar features or architectural details. Shaw designed the house for William Armstrong, a forward-thinking engineer, whose inventions led to him creating Britain’s original smart home. Illuminated by hydro-electricity and powered by hydraulics. (Read more here).It is in Northumbria, an area in which Ian lived for more than twenty years. He’d visited on many occasions but this was my first visit.
Garden Inspiration From Cragside
We were more interested in the gardens than in the interior, simply because the garden here at home, although mature, is something of a blank canvas. We have a lot of beautiful trees, (some with preservation orders), and few paved/patio areas which make up the bones of the garden. There’s a side garden which leads to a larger back garden. The latter slopes away from the house, (though this is difficult to see on the photographs below). It has an increasingly unruly border down each side of a lawn which is currently enjoying, ahem, wild status. The future side garden is quite easy to envisage. The back garden is where we wanted some inspiration. We visited on July 1st, so the garden was in full bloom.
Our Current Side Garden
Our Current Back Garden
Terracing at Cragside
The formal garden at Cragside has raised beds built into a slope alongside steps which work with the gradient. Our garden doesn’t need steps, but we will take inspiration and build a series of terraced beds at the bottom of our garden. This will save a huge job in trying to excavate to level the land.
Other Garden Snapshots at Cragside
Interior Inspiration From Cragside
Even though our house and Cragside were designed by Shaw within two years of each other, there is no obvious similarity with the exterior appearance.
However, we were delighted to see stained glass windows at Cragside which were very reminiscent of the three glazed doors in our entrance hall. The collage below is Cragside. The one below that, is our entrance hall.
As one would expect with a Victorian property, Cragside has an abundance of decorative mouldings and original features. (See the period features that we love in our home here). There is relatively more panelling at Cragside and of course, it is many times larger than our house, but it was really interesting to see the wall colours and wallpaper designs and textures. Plenty of food for thought.
Ian and I have been working every spare (dry) hour in the garden over the last two months, We want to clear and cut it back enough to enable us to see the wood for the (many) trees before winter. I’ve lost count of how many runs we have done to the tip with a van full of garden waste. I’ve become nigh-on obsessed with gardening podcasts, magazines, books and tv programmes and I cannot wait to get to a position where we can plant some bare root roses and spring bulbs. It is going to take years to get the inside and the outside of our home to suit our taste, but it already feels like a wonderful joint project.
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