For years I have been fascinated by the gardens at Quenington Old Rectory with interesting layout of different rooms and surprises round the corner as more sculptures appear. Rare Plant Fairs are held on the lawn, last year in spring when the Darmera peltata were flowering along the riverbank, they looked fantastic. Lucy and David Abel Smith have lived in the Old Rectory for 37 years have developed not only the exterior, but also the interior as well in their own style. Lucy a self-confessed collector, is also involved in many projects, some outlined in the fascinating Guardian Interiors article in 2019. We have visited two sculpture shows as a Friends' group, and looking forward to visiting the 2024 show Lucy is preparing already. I was thrilled when Lucy agreed to give an illustrated Friends' talk via Zoom and having just returned from a book festival in Transylvania, the timing was not ideal. I took photos from the screen as Lucy talked and will try and fill in with some of the things covered.
Born in Scotland, Lucy was very aware of the Scottish colourists' work and her Father's collection of snuff boxes, seen above, and enjoyed handling them.
Above is a photograph of their east facing dining room in Quenington Old Rectory where the first thing they commissioned was a table designed by Fred Baier and chairs designed by William Burgess. Below the design of the archway fresco is based on the wonderful stone arches over the doors at the nearby Quenington Church,
depicting the first coronation of the virgin.
This flatware set, below, was designed by Lucian Taylor
Lucy is a great collector of glass, and began collecting it aged 21, she mentioned Sam Herman, the great glass collector who talked to us in 2016: Friends of Swindon Museum & Art Gallery: Sam Herman in conversation with Graham Cooley
below you can see one of Lucy's pieces designed by Simon Moore
This bangle was designed by Wendy Ramshaw
and held together with magnets, which must make wearing it quite difficult
This stained-glass piece is by Antony Newell and depicts Lucy and David, I think
Below is a photo of the drawing room where there is lots of inherited brown furniture
Here below is more of the glass collection
and then Lucy talked about the garden where there's a Loutro Bateman split bridge and the beautiful round library seen on the right of the photograph below designed by Michael Gold
Above is a photo of one of the seats in the garden, and below a tribute to Esme Bradburne
who joined the gardening team aged 79and used her organic principles in the garden. The lettering says 'The soul of man resembles the water, the fate of man resembles the wind'.
There are some lovely water sculptures in the garden, like this one below.
My favourite is the large one in the centre of the river which I try and photograph every time I visit:
Lucy finished off by showing us some of her favourite small pieces:
Below is a glass piece by Angela Thwaite
and this ceramic piece is a Hans Coper
Thank you once again Lucy Abel Smith for such an extensive tour around your collections, looking forward to visiting the next Rare Plant Fair and of course the 2024 Sculpture show.
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