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HER Number:MDV118916
Name:The Cabin, Bucks Mills

Summary

A former mid 19th century fisherman's store which was used as a summer home and studio by artists Judith Ackland and Mary Stella Edwards from the 1920s until 1971.

Location

Grid Reference:SS 354 236
Map Sheet:SS32SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishWoolfardisworthy (Mid Devon)
Civil ParishWoolfardisworthy (North Devon)
DistrictTorridge
Ecclesiastical ParishPARKHAM

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • BUILDING (Built, XIX - 1801 AD to 1900 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

Building shown.


Ordnance Survey, 2017, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV359962.


Historic England, 2017, National Heritage List for England, 1446295 (National Heritage List for England). SDV359963.

The Cabin.
Summary of Building
A former fisherman’s store, dating from the mid-C19, with some C20 alterations; used from the 1920s to 1971 as a summer home and studio by artist couple Judith Ackland (1892-1971) and Mary Stella Edwards (1898-1989).
Reasons for Designation
The Cabin, a mid-C19 fisherman’s store, used in the C20 as a studio and summer cottage by artists Judith Ackland and Mary Stella Edwards, is listed at Grade II, for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: as a well-preserved and little-altered former fisherman’s store, an increasingly rare building type, set on the cliff above Bideford Bay; * Historic interest: for its association with Judith Ackland and Mary Stella Edwards, artists and devoted lifelong companions, who used the building as a studio and summer cottage from 1924 until Judith’s death in 1971; * Group value: with the numerous other listed C19 buildings which make up the small, cliff-top estate settlement of Bucks Mills. .
History
The Cabin was built in the mid-C19, probably as a fisherman’s store, on the cliff above Bideford Bay in the tiny settlement of Bucks Mills (formerly Buckish Mill); it post-dates the 1838 tithe map, but is present on the first edition Ordnance Survey map of 1886. It was owned by the Walland Cary estate, the manor which held the land, and leased to various tenants. A photograph from circa 1890 shows the building unheated, with a window in the first floor of the west gable end wall where a stove and fireplace would later be installed. By 1906 the window had been closed, the building whitewashed, and a brick stack added to the west end of the ridge. The tenancy had been taken on by Mrs E Ackland, the wife of a doctor from nearby Bideford, by 1913. From the 1920s The Cabin, as it was christened, was used by Mrs Ackland’s daughter, Judith and Mary Stella Edwards, as a summer home and studio. The tenancy passed to Judith Ackland in 1938, and in 1948, when the Walland Cary estate was broken up, Judith purchased the building for £625.
Judith Ackland was born in Bideford in 1892. She began her artistic life at Bideford Art School, before moving to London to attend Regent Street Polytechnic (now part of the University of Westminster). Here she met Mary Stella Edwards, a fellow student, and they began a lifelong partnership, ended only by Judith’s death in 1971. Judith and Mary Stella were inspired by the beauty of the North Devon coast, painting, principally in the open air, views around the area, including those around and of The Cabin, and still life compositions with shells and other found objects. They travelled extensively throughout the country, painting and selling their work, but The Cabin remained their summer home and studio. After the Second World War, they began work on a new project. Judith, seeking a more settled life, began to produce dioramas, inventing and patenting a new process for model-making which she called Jackanda, in which highly-detailed, realistic figures were constructed using a base of wire and compressed cotton wool, and arranged in historical tableaux; the portraits, costumes and backgrounds were extensively researched before they began work. Judith made the meticulous figures, while Mary Stella painted delicately-coloured, exquisitely-detailed backdrops. A number of the dioramas were commissioned by the town of Windsor to celebrate various important moments in its history, including an ambitious and large-scale piece showing scenes of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of George III in 1809, which included portrait figures of the royal family based on paintings in the Royal Collection. The dioramas remain in the collection of Windsor Museum. Mary Stella painted a warm and intimate watercolour of the interior of The Cabin, showing Judith at work with her model-making materials beside the window in the ground-floor room.
In addition to her painting, which included book illustrations and jacket designs, Mary Stella Edwards was a poet, who published several volumes throughout her life. The women’s love for each other, and for The Cabin, was tenderly evident in her piece ‘The Words of Others’, written in 1973, two years after Judith’s death:
'The North Star’, the half-heard radio said, No matter in what connection; and the tears sprang Sliding across my eyes – so that I heard no more - Hiding this paper, but not that constellation That shines in my brain and ever at that door Where we stood always when stars were bright at bedtime, Stood in the dark night air, joined in love and gazing. And in a book I read – a few words only - ‘The rowan already bright with berries’; And at once we stand together in that enchantment and place First found that day, and I picked the oak-leaf spray To hold it always – but now only with tears. I have it still, shrivelled and dry, among my treasures.
After Judith’s death, Mary Stella closed The Cabin and did not return. She moved back to her family home in Staines, Middlesex where she died in 1989. She presented a collection of her own and Judith’s work to Burton Art Gallery and Museum in Bideford, which included watercolours, drawings and dioramas of local topographical and historic interest, dating between 1913 and 1965. Other work by the pair can be found in public collections at The Victoria and Albert Museum, the Museum of London, The National Museum of Wales and Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Kendal, Westmorland.
The Cabin, which had been left unaltered since 1971, was cared for by the Ackland-Edwards Charitable Trust, which maintained it almost as it had been left, occasionally allowing it to be used as a painting retreat. The building was passed to The National Trust in 2004, on condition that it continued to be used as a place of inspiration for artists. Each summer artists take up short residencies, and the building is also occasionally opened to the public. .
Details
A former fisherman’s store, dating from the mid-C19, with some C20 alterations; used from the 1920s to 1971 as a summer home and studio by artists Judith Ackland (1892-1971) and Mary Stella Edwards (1898-1989).
MATERIALS Brownish and grey stone rubble, brick stack and dressings, and slate roofs.
PLAN The building is a simple one-up, one-down, orientated east-west, set against a bank, with a small, single-storey addition at the east end.
EXTERIOR The cabin is a two-storey building with a pitched roof, standing on a platform on the cliff above Bideford Bay, its south side set against the bank. The doors and windows are set in openings under segmental brick arches, and the windows have stone cills. There is a wide doorway with a plank-and-batten door giving level access to the first-floor room in the otherwise blind south elevation, which is single-storey only to the path above the building. The west gable end has an off-centre doorway to the ground floor, with a C19 plank door. Above it is an inset slate plaque inscribed THE CABIN. To the left is a nine-pane, fixed window. The long north elevation has a roughly central multi-paned timber casement window to the ground floor, with a two-over-two horned sash window to the first-floor to right. At the west end is a rectangular brick ridge stack with an offset to the top. The east gable end has a four-paned fixed light to the ground floor, and a narrow, one-over-one horned sash above. Attached at the east end, with a lean-to roof against the retaining wall to the south, is the former privy, with a plank-and-batten door with notched top.
INTERIOR Internally, the stone walls are whitewashed. The ground-floor room, whose ceiling is clad in timber, has a high inglenook fireplace at the west end, with a deep timber bressumer and mantleshelf, and a woodburning stove (replaced 2016). At the east end half the width of the building is taken up by a pantry, partitioned off with matchboarding, which has a plank-and-batten door and wrought-iron door furniture. The pantry has shelves fixed to both side walls. Adjacent to the pantry door is a second, similar door giving access to the stair. The stair is boxed in with matchboarding in the ground-floor room, creating small understairs cupboard. The stair, which turns through 90 degrees, has timber treads and risers. The first-floor room, its floor covered in brown, patterned linoleum, has a narrow, cast-iron fireplace with a round-arched grate and a timber mantleshelf extending the width of the chimney breast. A matchboard balustrade separates the stair from the room and is extended over the stair void as a deep shelf. The long elevations include narrow timbers running part of the length of the room, each with rows of nails inserted, likely to have been associated with the building’s original function as a fisherman’s store, perhaps for hanging nets. The roof is ceiled, but the ends of the principal rafters of the mid-truss are visible, and the exterior shows that there are twin purlins.


Historic England, 2017, Pride of Place: The Cabin, Bucks Mills. (Correspondence). SDV360140.

Notification of application to add building to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.


Historic England, 2017, The Cabin, Bucks Mills, Bideford (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV360200.

Historic England has undertaken Pride of Place, a ground-breaking research project that will uncover the untold queer histories of buildings and places people have lived alongside for generations. Led by a team of historians at Leeds Beckett University's Centre for Culture and the Arts, people were invited to give examples of the buildings and places special to them; from the private houses of trailblazing individuals; to the much loved local gay bar; to the first venue in town to host equal marriage and everything in between. The resulting map of England plots the multitude of buildings across the country that hold a sometimes hidden, sometimes public LGBTQ history. As part of our celebration of diversity, Historic England is taking the opportunity to consider amendments to a number of existing List entries and a small number of buildings and places for addition to the List; The Cabin at Bucks Mills, is one of these.

The Cabin was built in the mid-C19, probably as a fisherman’s store, on the cliff above Bideford Bay in the tiny settlement of Buck’s Mills (formerly Buckish Mill); it post-dates the 1838 tithe map, but is present on the first edition Ordnance Survey of 1886. It was owned by the Walland Cary estate, the manor which held the land, and leased to various tenants. A photograph from circa 1890 shows the building unheated, with a window in the first floor of the W gable end wall where a stove would later be installed. By 1906, the window had been closed, the building whitewashed, and a brick stack added to the W end of the ridge. The tenancy had been taken on by Mrs E Ackland, the wife of a doctor from nearby Bideford, by 1913. From the 1920s, The Cabin, as it was christened, was used by Mrs Ackland’s daughter, Judith, and Mary-Stella Edwards, as a summer home and studio. The tenancy passed to Judith Ackland in 1938, and in 1948, when the Walland Cary estate was broken up, Judith purchased the building for £625. Judith Ackland was born in Bideford in 1892. She began her artistic life at Bideford Art School, before moving to London to attend Regent Street Polytechnic (now part of the University of Westminster). Here she met Mary Stella Edwards, a fellow student, and they began a lifelong partnership, ended only by Judith’s death in 1971. Judith and Mary Stella were inspired by the beauty of the North Devon coast, painting, principally in the open air, views around the area, including those around and of The Cabin, and still life compositions with shells and other found objects. They travelled extensively throughout the country, painting and selling their work, but The Cabin remained their summer home and studio. After the Second World War, they began work on a new project. Judith, seeking a more settled life, began to produce dioramas, inventing and patenting a new process for model-making which she called Jackanda, in which highly-detailed, realistic figures were constructed using a base of wire and compressed cotton wool, and arranged in historical tableaux; the portraits, costumes and backgrounds were extensively researched before they began work. Judith made the meticulous figures, while Mary Stella painted delicately-coloured, exquisitely-detailed backdrops. A number of the dioramas were commissioned by the town of Windsor, to celebrate various important moments in its history, including an ambitious and large-scale piece showing scenes of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of George III in 1809, which included portrait figures of the royal family based on paintings in the Royal Collection. The dioramas remain in the collection of Windsor Museum. Mary Stella painted a warm and intimate watercolour of the interior of The Cabin, showing Judith at work with her model-making materials beside the window in the ground-floor room.

In addition to her painting, which included book illustrations and jacket designs, Mary Stella Edwards was a poet, who published several volumes throughout her life. The women’s love for each other, and for The Cabin, was tenderly evident in her piece ‘The Words of Others’, written in 1973, two years after Judith’s death.

After Judith’s death, Mary Stella closed The Cabin and did not return. She moved back to her family home in Staines, where she died in 1989. She presented a collection of her own and Judith’s work to Burton Art Gallery and Museum in Bideford, which included watercolours, drawings and dioramas of local topographical and historic interest, dating between 1913 and 1965. Other work by the pair can be found in public collections at The Victoria and Albert Museum, the Museum of London, The National Museum of Wales and Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Kendal, Cumbria. The Cabin, which had been left unaltered since 1971, was cared for by the Ackland-Edwards Charitable Trust, which maintained it almost as it had been left, occasionally allowing it to be used as a painting retreat. The building was passed to The National Trust in 2004, on condition that it continued to be used as a place of inspiration for artists. Each summer, artiststake up short residencies, and the building is also occasionally opened to the public.

MATERIALS
Brownish and grey stone rubble, brick stack and dressings, and slate roofs.

PLAN
The building is a simple one-up, one-down, orientated E-W, set against a bank, with a small, single-storey addition at the W end.

EXTERIOR
The cabin is a two-storey building with a pitched roof, standing on a platform on the cliff above Bideford Bay, its S side set against the bank. The doors and windows are set in openings under segmental brick arches, and the windows have stone cills. There is a wide doorway with a plank-and-batten door giving level access to the first-floor room in the otherwise blind S elevation, which is single-storey only to the path above the building. The W gable end has anoff-centre doorway to the ground floor, with a C19 plank door. Above it is an inset slate plaque inscribed THE CABIN. To the left is a nine-pane, fixed window. The long N elevation has a roughly central multi-paned timber casement window to the ground floor, with a two-over-two horned sash window to the first-floor to right. At the W end is a rectangular brick ridge stack with an offset to the top. The E gable end has a four-paned fixed light to the ground floor, and a narrow, one-over-one horned sash above. Attached at the E end, with a lean-to roof against the retaining wall to the S, is the former privy, with a plank-and-batten door with notched top.
INTERIOR
Internally, the stone walls are whitewashed. The ground-floor room, whose ceiling is clad in timber, has a high inglenook fireplace at the E end, with a deep timber bressumer and mantleshelf, and a woodburning stove (replaced 2016). At the E end half the width of the building is taken up by a pantry, partitioned off with matchboarding, which has a plank-and-batten door and wrought-iron door furniture. The pantry has shelves fixed to both side walls. Adjacent to the pantry door is a second, similar door giving access to the stair. The stair is boxed in with matchboarding in the ground-floor room, creating small understairs cupboard. The stair, which turns through 90 degrees, has timber treads and risers. The first-floor room, its floor covered in brown, patterned linoleum, has a narrow, cast-iron fireplace with a round-arched grate and a timber mantleshelf extending the width of the chimney breast. A matchboard balustrade separates the stair from the room and is extended over the stair void as a deep shelf. The long elevations include narrow timbers running part of the length of the room, each with rows of nails inserted, likely to have been associated with the building’s original function as a fisherman’s store, perhaps for hanging nets. The roof is ceiled, but the ends of the principal rafters of the mid-truss are visible, and the exterior shows that there are twin purlins.
Date first listed: 21st July 2017


Historic England, 2017, The Cabin, The Cabin, Bucks Mills, Bideford, Devon (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV360295.

Notification that The Cabin has been added to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest at Grade II.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV359962Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2017. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #78192 ]
SDV359963National Heritage List for England: Historic England. 2017. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Digital. 1446295.
SDV360140Correspondence: Historic England. 2017. Pride of Place: The Cabin, Bucks Mills.. Notification of Application to Add Building to List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. Digital.
SDV360200List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Historic England. 2017. The Cabin, Bucks Mills, Bideford. Consultation Report. Digital.
SDV360295List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Historic England. 2017. The Cabin, The Cabin, Bucks Mills, Bideford, Devon. Notification of Addition to List. Digital.

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded


Date Last Edited:Aug 4 2017 3:56PM