My Rutland Renovation


In 2010 I was lucky enough to buy a two-bedroom stone cottage, dating back to the mid-18th century, in the Rutland village where I had rented for five years.

The deeds, which go back to 1864, reflect the number of times it has changed hands and how it evolved.

Originally two one-up-one-down labourer’s hovels, with outside lavatories (shown on the ground plan), it was owned by a number of women – daughters, wives and widows – over the years.

Modernisation came in the 1970s when it was a bolt-hole for the Bishop of Leicester, when indoor plumbing and a ‘feature’ stone fireplace was built. The unsympathetic replacement windows and pink bathroom suite date to this period. For 15 years before I bought it, the cottage had been rented out and, while sound, was in need of some TLC.

This is the first time I have had the opportunity to put my own stamp on a home, and do everything in one go, before moving in. I was very fortunate with my vendor, my builder and tradesmen and – though of course I spent more than I envisaged – I’m delighted with the result. The cottage renovation was completed in 2011, thanks to:

The garden – plus new driveway and boundaries – is a never-ending project which started in 2012. The design of the garden came from Alison Hutchinson Design  who really understood how I wanted the space to be used. My builder Stuart Naylor returned with diggers to remove tons of earth and replace with tons of gravel and stone to put in new bones for the garden. And when the ancient stone wall that forms the boundary from road-front to back-field almost fell over, James Newsham, a young man from the Rutland village of Wing, came to my rescue and made a fantastic job of repairing and renewing.

Many of the plants in my garden have come from Welland Vale Garden Inspirations in Uppingham, as well as from friends in the village, and I also find Avon Bulbs and Chiltern Seeds brilliant.

I have furnished the house with an eclectic mix from shops in Uppingham and Stamford; from local antiques fairs and centres, and yes – from jumble sales!  Special mentions to J&D Vintage and Antiques, and to St Martins Antiques Centre.

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