Luxurious self-catering cottage and annex in a peaceful rural location, showcasing impeccable design and craftsmanship (sleeps 2-8)
William Morris famously said: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” In an age of excess, these sentiments seem more pertinent than ever. So it was with delight that we learned of Amanda Bannister’s beautiful 19th-century cottage, new for 2017 and hidden deep in the Wiltshire countryside, in the sleepy village of Semley. Designed as a living homage to British craftsmanship, every detail has been carefully chosen. DeVol units are stocked with David Mellor kitchenware, Nicola Tassie ceramics sit on shelves carved from a Semley oak tree, and bespoke upholstered beds accent Morris’ own wallpaper designs.
The 3-bedroom cottage is comfortable and spacious, with a huge open-plan living space and garden. Next door, a self-contained 1-bedroom annex is perfect for couples. Take your pick or book both together. Windows gaze out onto this bucolic corner of England, where the closest thing to a noisy neighbour is the joyful dawn chorus. Don your wellies and explore from the front door, seeking out the enchanting Pythouse Kitchen Garden and historic Old Wardour Castle. It’s the perfect place for a restorative change of pace.
- The interior design was a true passion project; you’ll leave inspired and utterly enamoured with the Arts & Crafts movement
- Lots of space and flexibility: families and friends will love the 3-bedroom cottage, couples the cosy annex. Big groups can book both
- The peaceful setting on the edge of a sleepy Wiltshire village, with country walks from the door and Pythouse Tennis Club membership included in the rates
- The cottage has a huge open-plan kitchen-dining-lounge room perfect for sociable suppers, plus a big garden and BBQ for summer evenings
- Lots of thoughtful details: Bramley bath products, a bountiful welcome hamper, the cottage has an honesty fridge with homemade chicken pies
- Although family-friendly, it’s best suited to teens and babies (precious furnishings and limited kids’ equipment)
- Guests staying in the annex may feel a little overlooked by the owner’s house, but heavy drapes help
- The annex’s mezzanine bedroom is more of a sleeping deck, with low ceilings and downstairs clothing storage
- If you want to dine out, there are limited options within walking distance (but lots a short drive or taxi ride away)
- A hefty security deposit is required – bear in mind that replacing a broken bowl will cost more than the usual IKEA restock
The Craftsman’s Cottage combines a 19th-century 3-bedroom cottage with a loft-style 1-bedroom annexe next door. Take your pick or book both together for a big group getaway.
A riot of colour and influences, the cottage has real wow-factor. Downstairs, there’s a sociable open-plan living space for hearty suppers and playing board games in front of the fire. Across the hall, the snug has a Sony internet-connected TV for lazier moments. We slept blissfully in the double-height master bedroom (complete with ensuite shower). As with the second double bedroom, the master bedroom’s original oak beams, designer wallpaper and artful colour palette create a classic yet contemporary look. At the back of the house, the twin bedroom’s elegant blush walls are accented by mustard handmade beds, mint Anglepoise lamps and framed Lucienne Day fabrics. Siberian goose-down bedding and 400-thread-count sheets are present throughout. In the main bathroom, you’ll find a wood-panelled bathtub, drenching walk-in shower and botanical Bramley products.
Next door, the timber-clad annexe has a more understated colour scheme. Striking crittall doors open into an airy open-plan lounge and Sebastian Cox kitchen. Upstairs, there’s a compact mezzanine sleeping area; downstairs, a metro-tiled shower room. A wood-burner and underfloor heating keep things cosy. Outside, the seating area and gravel garden are overlooked by Amanda’s home, but we’d be perfectly happy taking our morning coffee there nonetheless.
The cottage’s light-filled kitchen-diner comes with David Mellor cutlery and glassware, plus every pot, pan and utensil you could need. A Dualit toaster and Ruark DAB radio nestle on the oak counter; the old chimney breast holds an enormous Rangemaster. Outside, a west-facing dining terrace and brick BBQ catch the last of the afternoon sun.
Amanda provides a welcome hamper – the longer you stay the ampler it becomes. We were welcomed with a fresh seeded loaf, delicious homemade granola, Greek yoghurt, ruby-red strawberries, butter, milk, sweet lemon curd and jam. You’ll also find Kilner jars of tea and Dorset coffee waiting for you, plus olive oil and the like. It’s a similar story in the annex, whose compact kitchen includes an oven, hob, toaster, kettle and fridge.
You can request a fresh fish delivery from Tisbury Fishmongers. For good measure, add a wine delivery from The Beckford Bottle Shop. If you’re celebrating a special occasion, Amanda can also recommend a local caterer (prior arrangement is essential). The cottage also has an honesty fridge filled with homemade chicken pies.
For additional supplies, Semley has a simple village shop, while nearby Shaftesbury and Tisbury have independent delis and supermarkets. The area has plenty of tempting gastropubs and restaurants, too – we love Pythouse Kitchen Garden (a mile along the lane), The Beckford Arms, The Forresters and The Riverbarn. Some are walkable during the day, but you’ll want to drive or get a taxi at night.
- Take a country walk straight from your front door to Old Wardour Castle or Fonthill Lake – choose a route from the books provided, and borrow wellies from the utility room
- Play tennis at Pythouse Tennis Club, a mile up the lane – you get free membership as part of your stay
- Spend a morning perusing Tisbury’s handful of independent shops before visiting Messums art gallery, a multi-purpose arts centre housed in a Grade-I listed thatched tithe barn (the largest in England)
- Hill-top Shaftesbury is a medieval market town replete with boutiques, inns and history. Seek out iconic Gold Hill (from the Hovis advert) and Park Walk for expansive views over the Blackmore Vale
- Visit one of the area’s many National Trust properties: Stourhead Gardens is a favourite and particularly picturesque during spring and autumn
- Back at the cottage, watch a movie in the snug, soak up the sun in the large lawned garden, or unwind with a massage or beauty treatment (recommended local therapists use heavenly Neal’s Yard products)
Like a particular item? The Craftsman’s Cottage serves as a gallery and much of the décor is for sale. Better yet, Amanda’s close working relationship with the artists and makers means there may be exclusive discounts to be had.
If you want to learn more about the Arts & Crafts movement while you’re here, look out for relevant books dotted around the house. Fiona McCarthy’s biography of William Morris is a great starting point
If you would like to talk about a freelance project or creative ideas, that would be just lovely.