Joan Bakewell (resident 2014)
Quotation from the opening of Stop the Clocks: Thoughts on what I leave behind
(Virago 2016) which was largely written at Church Cottage.
In the middle of old age I find myself in a small cottage.
No more than two rooms: a latch opens the door into a tiny entrance then directly into the lower room…. Just straight into the one room- there is no other. This is for eating, working, living…..So, open the door and come in.
Inside is the creation of a woman of country taste, a woman who obviously takes time, who pays attention to detail, who is not in a hurry. The room is no bigger than a small study. And that is exactly what it is. Along one wall extend allt he facilites a writer needs: a desk, rows of electric sockets, a CD player and radio, a television set, a router and a printer. This working space is tucked beneath the slop of the stairs which in turn supports a set of narrow shelves for paperclips, stationery, a jar of pens, a torch. It is all I need.
Central to the room is an elegant round table and two Edwardian chairs. And beyond, a series of cupboards with pine doors and drawers that open to reveal a fridge, pots and pans, tablecloths, rolls of silver foil,,,the active components of good and easy cooking. Walls front and back have leaded windows opening onto beds of daffodils: crowded below, a comfy sofa, cushions, standard lamp, all nudging up to a small wood-burning stove and a display of sepia family photographs. The whole is an exercise in minimal space with all anyone could need. And if it has a feel of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle about it that’s appropriate because in the single upstairs room is a full set of Beatrix Potter’s little books, their box-set cunningly pinned to the wall of a large cupboard that conceals the lavatory. Such economy of space leaves room for a large, tall and wide ned heaped with pillows and a duvet in the William Morris fabrics that feature elsewhere. Under the window is a free-standing bath.
Here I shall stay….and set out my pages. There won’t be time for more.