Tour Britain Through Its Artists’ Houses

Hepworth, Jarman, Moore and more…

by Anastasiia Fedorova
Jan 29 2018, 8:42pm

We all long for a personal connection with the artists we admire. It can be found through studying art history and reading biographies, but nothing compares to visiting the places they’ve lived. It’s hard to get the full picture of Georgia O'Keefe’s genius without a drive to her home in the desert of New Mexico, and much easier to understand Yves Saint Laurent’s use of colour after a walk in Morocco’s Jarin Majorelle. Experiencing an artist’s landscape, architecture and working environment inevitably brings us closer to the forces that drove their creativity.

When we think of unique artistic hideaways, it’s often lush villas in the Mediterranean or cabins in the wilderness of California. But Britain is also home to a great number of hidden gems, some just around the corner in London, some surrounded by the incredible countryside of Cornwall and Wales. Here are the most atmospheric homes of artists, architects, directors and bohemian cult figures open to visit across the UK.


Henry Moore Studio & Gardens

One of the most renowned figures in British sculpture, Henry Moore lived in the former farmhouse of Hoglands in Hertfordshire from 1940 until the end of his life. Moore used the outbuildings as his studio, and also acquired the surrounding land bit by bit. Today in the vast garden a stunning collection of his signature monumental curved sculptures is on display, while the museum also displays Moores’ personal collection of artefacts, books and works from artists including Picasso, Modigliani, Hepworth, Michelangelo and Rembrandt.

Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage

Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage stands in the middle of the otherworldly nature reserve of Dungeness on the coast of Kent. The black wooden cottage with vivid yellow accents (and a verse from John Donne’s poem The Sun Rising inscribed on the side) is surrounded by the ragged garden the director designed himself in the final years before his tragic death from AIDS-related illness. The place still radiates with the intimacy of Jarman’s refuge here, and is crucial to his artistic heritage: Jarman’s 1990 film The Garden, a meditation on homosexuality, religion and mortality, was set here.


2 Willow Road, Home of Architect Ernö Goldfinger

Located in London’s Hampstead, the family home of Hungarian Architect Ernö Goldfinger is a must-visit for any admirer of modernism. Goldfinger designed London’s iconic high-rises Trellick Tower and Balfron Tower, which were widely hated at the time, but are recognised today as treasures of Brutalist architecture. 2 Willow Road is a perfect reflection of Goldfinger’s clean, functional aesthetic down to the smallest detail — he even designed all the bespoke furniture within the house. The home also contains Ernö’s collection of modern art, including works from Henry Moore, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst and Bridget Riley.

Farley Farm House

Located in the Sussex countryside, the home of photographer Lee Miller and artist and curator Roland Penrose used to be a renowned meeting place for some of the 20th Century’s most notable artists. Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro and Man Ray all stayed here in the 1950s, and left artworks behind. The house is surrounded by a sculpture garden, and holds Lee Miller’s vast photographic archives and artefacts of her years as a war correspondent during the Second World War.


Dylan Thomas Boathouse

A modest boathouse in Laugharne in Wales was Dylan Thomas’s residence in the final years of his life, and the place where he wrote a few of his most well-known poems, including “Do Not Go Gentle”. The small boathouse is located below a cliff down on the water’s edge. Thomas worked in the Writing Shed above the Boathouse with a view of the vast estuary just beneath.


Barbara Hepworth Museum & Sculpture Garden

The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden in St Ives is a world-renowned destination for art lovers. One of many artists to settle in the Cornish town of St Ives during and after the Second World War, Barbara Hepworth purchased Trewyn Studio in 1949 and lived there until her death in 1975. It is a remarkable experience to see Hepworth’s pieces in the environment where they were created, particularly considering that many of the sculptures on display remain in the same position that Hepworth originally placed them in. The Museum has been owned and run by Tate since 1980, and contains the largest group of Hepworth’s works.

Charleston Farm House

The 17th Century farmhouse in rural Sussex was the home of British painters Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, and is mainly known as a meeting place of the Bloomsbury Group which they were part of. Virginia Woolf was a frequent visitor. The house is a powerful memento of the bourgeoning art scene of the first half of the 20th Century, with painted furniture, ceramics, paintings and textiles, as well as pieces of art from painters that the Bloomsbury Group admired, such as Renoir and Picasso.

Dorich House

Located on the edge of London’s Richmond Park, Dorich House belonged to Estonian sculptor Dora Gordine and her husband Richard Hare, an English scholar of Russian art and literature. This hidden gem is worth a visit for the interior, and a walk through Gordine’s vast studio and gallery spaces filled with sunlight. The building also houses a number of Gordine’s own work, and a collection of Russian art.


William Morris Gallery

William Morris Gallery is located in the former family home of the renowned designer, craftsman and socialist in London’s Walthamstow. The gallery is one of the best places to study Morris’s place in the history of the British design: its collection comprises over 10,000 objects including original designs, signature flower pattern textiles, wallpapers, furniture, stained glass, ceramics, metalwork, books and archival materials.