Thursday, 16 February 2017

Staunton Harold & the Ferrers Centre for Arts & Crafts

What do you do when you need a change of scene but can't afford a holiday? Last week Mitch and I headed out to Staunton Harold near Ashby de la Zouch, to a stately pile not far from the Derbyshire border, long time home to the Shirley family who belatedly became the Earl Ferrers. Hence the name of the very interesting Ferrers Art Gallery located on the site.

The Gallery occupies the Hall's large old red brick stable yard, every corner of the four-sided, three- floored area now taken up with exhibition space and shops selling contemporary British artware, mostly original work and much reflecting the glorious natural world around the Gallery.

Mitch doesn't walk well so sadly she wasn't able to see half of what was on offer, including the upstairs gallery space. But downstairs we found everything from textile work to very high spec jewellery and metalwork, glassware, crockery, fun gifts and ornaments including animals and birds in a variety of mediums and forms. And several places to sit and try delicious cakes!
We were particularly fascinated by the Victorian Model Workshop making and selling mechanical puppets, worked by levers & pulleys and designed for private collectors and commercial customers world-wide. I particularly enjoyed the little faeries with their moving limbs and beating wings and it was no surprise that these were best selling items. Mitch admired the boxed mechanicals for home assembly - DIY animation. Genius! For a glimpse into this animatronic world, see

The full title for this stimulating corner of creative enterprise is the Ferrers Centre for Arts and Crafts. It is owned and run by Rachel Chambers, who is also contemporary craft editor for craft&design magazine. With Rachel's enthusiasm, an exhibition runs continually at the centre, taking up all of the second and third floor space. 

There's little practical help for the disabled in such a building, well, not at present, so it was as well that Mitch was entranced with the craft pieces on display downstairs, some very reasonably priced, while I ventured upstairs to the Gallery proper to view excellent and varied works by the region's best known artists and sculptors. 

Interested in visiting Staunton Harold? The Hall is privately owned but there's a well-stocked garden centre plus cafes and plenty of parking. (Paid parking at weekends). And it's all located in the National Forest.

Nearby is Calke Abbey, a National Trust property well worth a visit, together with the rather special Staunton Harold Church and the Severn Trent-owned Staunton Harold reservoir (with boat club!) Go on a sunny day and see the lot, only wear sensible shoes as there's a lot of walking. 
Tel 01332 863337  
LE65 1RU

Shown are a selection of the art and craft works to be found in Ferrers Gallery.