THE NEWPORT Road in Stafford is usually a busy one with people dashing about their daily lives, travelling to and from the town. However for the eagle eyed there is an unobtrusive gateway, easily missed amongst the hedges, which gives access to a long gravel driveway leading straight back as far as the eye can see.
The driveway then bends suddenly to the left, presenting a private courtyard and a fabulous slice of the town’s history in the shape of a large house called Upmeads, which is a striking Grade II listed Arts and Crafts property deigned by the artistic and flamboyant architect Edgar Wood and built in 1908. Wood was a contemporary and acquaintance of Charles Mackintosh.
Upmeads has been a much-loved home to Philip and Ruth Hunter for the past 29 years, however it was first built for Fredrick Bostock and his wife Mabel, who owned several local companies at the time including Lotus Shoes and Evode Adhesives.
It passed through the family until 1985 when Philip and Ruth bought it to raise their own children in. Now they have five grandchildren who come to stay, roaming about the six bedroom house spread over three floors and having adventures in the extensive gardens which include a section with swings, a slide, treehouse and a revolving summer house. However Philip and Ruth feel the time has come to downsize, creating a fantastic opportunity for another family to take up residence.
“We are only the third family to live here in 100 years,” says Ruth proudly.
“The Bostocks moved in when their son was a young boy, but he died at the age of 21 and the father passed away later, but Mrs Bostock was here for almost 50 years. Then the house went to a niece of Fredrick .
“There are a lot of memories in this house. We came when our children were in their late teens and now we have grandchildren who come, but sadly it’s too big for us now,” says Ruth.
The property has a peaceful and elegant feel to it with lots of lovely natural light spilling into every part of the house, thanks to a number of features including huge windows, artfully placed skylights and even the entrance hall, which being double height with a groin vaulted ceiling means lots of light spilling in.
The hallway gives access to both formal reception rooms though the double doors – which creates an amazing entertainment area which runs the width of the house when all the doors are opened, which the couple tell me is the perfect for parties.
“The drawing room hasn’t really been changed in 100 years, apart from the wallpaper,” says Ruth, smiling as she leads me in. The room still features the original fireplace with an unpolished mahogany screen and a little inset mirror which has withstood the test of time. A warm and cosy room, despite its size, the walls are dotted with original artwork by their son Jonathan who lives with his wife and fellow artist Alison Pilkington.
The room also has a piano tucked into one corner, although they admit it’s rarely played now. “It was my father’s,” says Ruth. But it might have to stay if the new owners want it as we may not have room for it!” she adds with a laugh.
The dining room has wooden panelling along with the original ornate frieze which Ruth and Philip tell me they believe to be an Edgar Wood design, ceiling paper as well as a marble fireplace.
“I love the windows and the outlook of this room,” adds Ruth, gazing out onto part of the gardens filled with flowers.
Next Ruth leads me to the far side of the ground floor to access the kitchen and breakfast room, which was originally three rooms. “They were all knocked together in the early 60s to create one large room which has always really been the centre of the home,” she says. A nice spacious room, with a dual aspect and lovely views, Ruth admits they spend a lot of their time here, especially as the room gets the sun in both the morning and the afternoon during the summertime.
The kitchen also has a number of rooms leading off it, including a unique large cloakroom which still has the original tiling to both the walls and floor and butler’s pantry which is now used as a utility room. There is also a garden room leading from the cloakroom which leads to the greenhouse.
A short flight of wide stairs leads to the first floor where there are five bedrooms, with each door having a fingerplate, beneath which is written the original purpose of the room.
If you think Uplmeads may be the home for you, contact the agents, Savills on 01952 239 500.
This and other properties are featured in the August issue of Staffordshire Life, available to buy from July 15.