Crazy for Conran Country

Anyone who knows me, understands my obsession with all that is anything English country house….and after seeing some of the photos from the weekend house of British fashion designer, Jasper Conran, maybe you will understand.  Conran’s country estate, Ven House, in Somerset was recently featured in the November issue of my favorite “decorating porn” magazine, World of Interiors.  The conservatory is straight out of a Jane Austen movie set.

                Conservatory complete with mature Tree Ferns imported from New Zealand

According to an article in The Telegraph, Conran’s ideal weekend includes walking his dogs, growing blowsy peonies, browsing through second hand bookshops and buying antiques.  He loves to wake up early on a Saturday and listen to BBC Radio 4 while making a cup of tea and a poached egg from one of his Rhode Island Red hens,  in this most  well appointed English kitchen.

                       English kitchen love

            Antique butcher block made into a drawer refrigerator

             More Conran kitchen

Conran recently published a book of great inspirational photos of English country homes and people called Jasper Conran Country.

Lost World

While searching a website for interesting postcards, I came across some photographs of  English country life that I thought at the time were from the World War II era.  After looking up the photographer, James Ravilious, I was amazed to discover that the photos were taken over a seventeen year period during the seventies and eighties.

The  black and white photos were all taken in an area around North Devon, England as part of the Beaford Archive project that started in 1972 when Ravilious moved to Dolton, North Devon.   Ravilious was self taught and never posed any of his subjects.  He took over 80,000 photographs of the same area of the Devon countryside and captured a way of life that has essentially disappeared in less than a generation.

There is a great article about Ravilious and his work that appeared in the London Daily Mail in 2007 and a BBC documentary and gallery that can be viewed on their website.  Unfortunately Ravilious passed away in 1999 at the age of sixty from lymphoma, but his photos live on and can be viewed online, and in print in The Photographs of James Ravilious by Peter Hamilton.

                 James Ravilious at work  

                 James Ravilious at work


Any lover of this lost way of country living, will be warmed by this visual sociology project.  Postcards of the photographs are available online from Ben Pentreath Ltd. in London and they do ship to the states!