My home in one word is temporary. It comes with the job.


My next renovation project is doing up our narrowboat. I’d live like a student if it were up to me, but my partner [Reverend David Coles] has a genius for designing and building things.

The first piece of furniture I bought was a large wood-framed mirror, which sounds rather narcissistic. I bought it in a junk shop behind Euston station in 1980, and there was a Dymo-printed label on it saying ‘Property of JT Pooley’. It’s currently hanging on my bedroom wall.

The oldest thing in my home is a little clay oil lamp that we sometimes use for Evening Prayer. It’s nothing special, but it was made for a church in Egypt in the 3rd century.

I have been a collector of contemporary ceramics for a while now. My interest began when I came across the work of Welsh potter Phil Rogers at the Goldmark Gallery in Uppingham. I bought a pot by Phil and fell in love with it. I have since bought a few pieces by other potters such as Shōji Hamada, who worked with Bernard Leach in St Ives in the 1920s, and Sandy Brown, who makes marvellous sculptural pieces in North Devon today.

The newest thing in my home is an Amazon Alexa and I hate it.

At the top of my wishlist is a Windsor chair made by carpenter David Saltmarsh of Fivepenny Chairs in Dorset.

If my house was burning down, excluding family and pets [Richard and David live with four dachshunds], I’d save an 18th-century Karelian icon of the Virgin of Smolensk. She has survived quite a few adventures already and I would hate to lose her.

My favourite museum or gallery is hard to choose, but it would probably be the Hamburger Kunsthalle for the Friedrich landscapes, or the Fondation Bemberg in Toulouse for Bonnard.

If I could add an artistic skill to my repertoire, for some reason I have always wanted to yodel.

My favourite period of design is Queen Anne. I like it for its elegance and restraint, and especially for the cabriole leg. A part of me would have loved to have been a parson siting in a Queen Anne rectory, in a Queen Anne wing chair, possibly taking a glass of port to toast Queen Anne for her Bounty – funds that greatly improved the circumstances of the poorer clergy of the Church of England.


The object in my home that only I can love was given to me by a friend of mine, the son of a bishop, as a confirmation present. It’s a wind-up toy duck driving a car and I have to keep it in the wardrobe.