Marchmont House in the Scottish Borders, now restored to its Georgian grandeur and Arts and Crafts glory, will this year be hosting its inaugural season of design events, starting this month, with the opportunity for guests to stay on the magnificent estate.
The mansion’s first event, Ernest Gimson and the Art, Craft and Business of Furniture Design (May 11; £85, including lunch; drinks party and speakers’ dinner £45 supplement), focuses on the English designer and architect whose work gave Hugo Burge – the property’s co-director and a member of the family overseeing the award-winning restoration to date – a lifelong passion for design. It was the Gimson-designed Bedales Memorial Library that gave him a particular interest in the Arts and Crafts movement. “I think it was the tranquillity and the humble style of the library that got under my skin,” he says. “Just after leaving university, the first furniture I bought was a set of six rush seat chairs similar to the Bedales library ones.”
The occasion will mark the centenary of the death of Gimson, who was described by art critic Nikolaus Pevsner as “the greatest of the English artist-craftsmen”. Speakers will include Annette Carruthers, Mary Greensted and Barley Roscoe, who are writing a book about his work (to be published later this year by Yale University Press), and designer and conserver Hugh Parsons from Charles Taylor Woodwork, who will enlighten guests with details of making Gimson trestle tables and other specialist pieces for Marchmont.
“The events are a new voyage – and coming more rapidly than I imagined,” Burge enthuses. “But the restoration of Marchmont over the past few years has become a canvas to celebrate the Arts and Crafts of Scotland and the Borders.”
Conversations in Wood on August 3 (£75, including lunch and drinks) offers the opportunity to explore the relationship that makers working with wood have with the material as they carve and shape their unique pieces. Following this, Exploring Modern Scottish Sculpture (£85, including lunch and drinks) on September 21 will highlight some of the collection Burge has gathered, including works by the much-acclaimed William Turnbull, Gerald Laing, Eduardo Paolozzi and Steve Dilworth, alongside local artists Keith McCarter, Charlie Poulsen and Frippy Jameson.
For guests wishing to stay overnight at the events, ensuite rooms are available in Marchmont House (about £300), The Bothy cottage on the estate (£130), which has four double rooms, and at nearby Duns Castle (price on request), with all meals taken at Marchmont House.