A History Lesson

Delighted to see our feature in the latest issue of 25 Beautiful Homes, September 2022, gracing the front cover.

Owner, Jo Tutton Lifestyle and interiors, on Instagram, has become a dear friend and colleague. We have photographed a number of her properties over the years. All exquisite, but this project is definitely the most exciting and extensive yet. A small stately home in beautiful grounds, tucked away in a quiet corner of Herefordshire.

The house started life as a coaching inn for a nearby 12th century Medieval church. It was converted into a home by a sea Captain, in 1861. He added a substantial wing with a number of extravagant features, that he had picked up on his travels, including Italian mosaic floors, moulded ceilings, a ballroom, a Jacobean staircase and a fireplace dated 1621, all of which survive today.

Jo bought the glass topped central table while she was living in Mexico

When it came up for sale a few years ago, it was in need of further restoration. It had been in the same family for three generations and was being run as a holiday let and tearoom. The owners held regular ‘open garden’ events throughout the summer. The Tutton’s came here for a cup of tea and bought a ticket for the garden. ‘I could see how amazing the grounds were’ Jo recalls, ‘and ended up chatting to the owner.  I came back on a guest changeover day to have a closer look round.’ The rest, as they say, is history! 

There is definitely a hint of the Hamptons in Jo’s decor, years of stateside living have stayed with her.

‘I had the vision that this tired and leaking country house would one day come back to life, a home that would be comfortable and welcoming, Jo explains. Jo and Nigel have four adult children and so far, four grandchildren, so they have a lot of visitors and need a lot of space. ‘We wanted a home that would work as a base for our growing family.’

The morning room is perfect for a quiet cuppa

The house, which had been the subject of an episode of Country House Rescue, was bursting with possibilities. Jo and Nigel have already restored the Garden cottage for guests and there is also an old stable block, hay loft and grain stores still to be tackled. Plans are afoot for the restoration of the ancient courtyard around which all these properties are centred and work on the garden continues with the hope of reopening them to the public in the future. ‘As for a tea shop… well watch this space’ Jo hints!

The dining room is perfect for family gatherings, the joyous, courful tablecloth is from Mrs Alice
The kitchen by local cabinet makers Harrison & Pope is extremely smart and relatively compact, which is no problem thanks to the generous laundry and boot room and the adjoining larder…
Cool and airy, traditional larder is a game changer in a large country house

‘Nigel’s career took us all over the world, we have lived in some amazing places, and our travels have hugely inspired my work as an interior designer, but we were brought up in this area, so we feel as if we have come home’ Jo shares. They bought it shortly before lockdown and took the opportunity of those tricky years to push ahead with the restoration. ‘It was always our belief that this house should have a gentle touch, there is not a straight wall or floor in the whole place. Thankfully our decorator also shared the same vision. We feel very fortunate that we were given that extra time to bring our dream to life.’

The master bedroom is the piece de resistance for me.
A wonderful sanctuary when the guests start to overflow!

Jo really enjoyed discovering new suppliers during the renovation, favourites include the sustainability conscious company, the Haines Collection, who sell surplus high end interior fabrics and make beautiful cushions. ‘I design schemes by searching in Antique shops, auctions and salvaging and repurposing heirlooms’ she shares. ‘I then blend my finds with the aim of creating soothing, restful interiors, that are full of stories and interest.’

The show stopper double ended ‘London’ bath is from Burlington, marble floor tiles are by Mandarin Stone.
The guest room has a darker, more masculine vibe.
Jo designed this bedroom for her grand children. She calls it her Out of Africa nursery, ‘we have a number of family connections to Africa and it’s the most loved room in the house” 

The house is ready and available as a location for film and TV. Jo can be contacted through her instagram. Please follow her, for her serene interiors inspiration, she has a unique and soothing style, inspired by a lifetime of property renovating and many years of globe trotting. Jo can help with interiors projects as well. Find out more in the current 25 Beautiful Homes article.

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