“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful,” William Morris once declared – a mantra that Amanda Bannister has taken to heart in the creation of The Craftsman’s Cottage, a Wiltshire cottage renovated in homage to British craft, where she showcases work by British craftspeople – and, from April, will invite guests to stay while mastering traditional skills on a series of makers’ courses.
These craft classes range from limited-edition bookbinding to lifestyle photography, basket weaving, handstitched lampshade making, pottery and traditional oak woodworking. The first in the series kicks off on April 30, running until May 2, with carpenter Alex Argo of Burr Woodworks (burrwoodworks.co.uk), who will guide just eight guests through artisanal techniques using hand tools to create an oak lantern. He will also discuss the use of different woods, the importance of their source and the beauty of nature’s simplicity.
“The courses are designed to be intimate and are led by handpicked makers who represent some of the best in their craft,” says Bannister. “Whether you are an absolute beginner or somewhat an expert, they will get the very best out of you. We hope that not only will you take home your handiwork, but also new skills, stories and friends.”
Visitors can expect homemade tea on arrival (including Bannister’s speciality banana bread), supper in the cottage with the maker on the first night of the course, and a three-course dinner at the award-winning Beckford Arms at nearby Fonthill Gifford on the second evening. Breakfast and a picnic lunch are also included. Bespoke packages can be tailored to suit specific requirements.
The cottage nestles in the picturesque rural village of Semley, and offers a cosy ambience amid exposed wooden beams, William Morris wallpapers, log fires and collections of contemporary ceramic pieces by artists such as Nicola Tassie. Rooms are priced from £900 for two nights, and include tuition, materials and meals. It’s a perfect excuse to escape to the country and explore your creative talents.