Discovering English country house style
H&A's vintage blogger, Sarah-Jane finds ideas for English country living in an unusual Somerset home
H&A blogger Sarah-Jane Hosegood runs the weekly Twitter vintage networking event #vintagefindhour. In her blog for H&A she’ll be writing about her most recent finds, fair experiences and tales of the interesting folk she meets along the way. This month she has a wistful moment in search of English country style…
Since becoming a vintage dealer, I have noticed there are more aspects to decorating your home with vintage items than it might appear. Many a time someone has contacted me on Twitter having had their memory jolted by an image of a piece that I have tweeted.
Heartfelt responses such as, ‘Oh, my grandmother had one just like that, it takes me back,’ are a joy. Vintage treasures evoke precious memories but they also give me the next best thing to owning my own cottage in the countryside. I daydream of my country home nestled in a utopian green valley far away from the hustle of everyday life, with birdsong drifting in the breeze.
A cosy farmhouse kitchen would have a huge pine dresser crammed with my antique china collection, along with enamel saucepans hung from the beams. In a stone-walled rose garden teeming with pretty wild flowers, I would sit shelling peas and taking in the heady scent of the garden, while drinking tea from a vintage teacup.
Recently, I was lucky enough to visit a breathtaking Somerset house dating back to the early 1400s (above). Steeped in history, The Old Rectory is the epitome of English country living with its thatched roof, ancient barn, Tudor features, flagstone floors and charming gardens. Its present owners have set about breathing life into the house with their vibrant flair for interior style.
Antique oak furniture and vintage treasures sit alongside bold Indian textiles from their business Somerset Souk. It’s an eye-catching blend that brings a pleasingly eccentric twist to this traditional home.
I was intrigued to discover that several priests inhabited the house during the medieval period. They ran a hostel for pilgrims travelling along the road outside, which is still known as The Pilgrims Way. I felt I’d had a personal style pilgrimage there and took away a good many ideas for fresh takes on classic English decor.
As you might expect, I am in love with the TV series Downton Abbey, these days probably England’s best-loved country pile, and I was delighted to discover a peak behind the scenes in the latest issue of H&A.
Inspired by this and my Somerset sojourn, I’ve been thinking about ways to achieve a similar look and ambience with carefully chosen vintage objects. You may have a small flat in the city or a new-build house, but something as simple as a vintage Kilner jar or a pretty china jug filled with wild flowers provides a stylish nod to country interiors. Vintage photo frames, collections of china, floral prints, watercolours and enamelware are other easy starting points. Sometimes one purchase is enough to set the tone for your whole interior.
Of course hunting down vintage treasures is half of the fun, so try scanning your local flea markets, antiques fairs and car boot sales to see what you unearth. I’ve no doubt something out there will bring back some cherished family memories - and that is priceless.
For a full gallery of Sarah-Jane's pictures of The Old Rectory, take a look at our Facebook album