Shilstone House: A grand conception magnificently realised

Work to a new drawing room in the Jacobean style brings to completion the remarkable rebirth of Shilstone House in Devon, the home of Sebastian and Lucy Fenwick. John Goodall reports.

It’s eight years since Country Life first visited Shilstone to discover how the surviving fragment of a historic manor house and its landscape had been magnificently revived to create a modern country house. At that time, the building had been both completed and furnished, but the project was still fresh. Now, the landscape and gardens have matured almost beyond recognition, beautifully integrating the house within its intimate valley setting below Dartmoor (Fig 7). Over the same period, the interiors have also developed and been loved to life.

Of themselves, such changes might justify a return visit. In this case, however, Shilstone has also acquired one outstanding new interior that merits individual attention: the first-floor drawing room at the head of the main stair. It was always intended as the culminating creation of the project and the care and labour necessary for its completion meant that work to it was set to one side as the rest of the interior was realised. Not only does the room round off the rebuilding project in a formal sense, but it also draws together some of the themes that have informed the project more generally and make it so special.

Fig 1: A view of Shilstone House from the south-west, showing the restored home with the farm buildings beyond. The 17th-century gardens extend above and below the house, with a walled garden to the west. One of the ponds is visible below the drive — Shilstone House, Devon. ©Paul Highnam for Country Life

The history of Shilstone has already been rehearsed in the magazine (September 30, 2015). A

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