Dorset, the beautiful

12 February 2012
Ben Pentreath

It was a beautiful weekend in Dorset. It feels like a little while since I’ve been at the Old Parsonage, and towards the end of last week we were getting busier and busier in the office. So,very early on Friday morning, when I was finally able quietly to slip out of London and escape on the second morning train, and head west, I could feel life getting calmer by the minute.

The valley, yesterday, was extraordinary still. Nothing moved. The morning air was bitterly cold, but bright sunshine soon warmed the house, and garden, and I went for a walk down to the lake at the bottom of the garden, and I am not sure I have seen such a beautiful scene in a while. Snowdrops are coming. Spring is around the corner in Dorset.


Friday was a happy day. After a few meetings in Dorchester, I got home, met Liz and Midori in the garden, and discussed plans for 2012. In the afternoon my piano was delivered. I don’t think, thinking back, that I’ve mentioned my, um, piano moment on this blog. Over Christmas and New Year, when I suppose I was in the house for the longest time I’ve spent there in one go, I slowly realised that what I was quietly missing in my life was a piano. In pondering this, I did a little bit of internet research and after a little while found the brilliant website of a distinguished piano manufacturers and dealers, Robert Morley of Lewisham. Early in the New Year, my friend Will and I trekked down to Lewisham to try out a 19th century Hagspiel that I had spied.  Really, really, I can’t play; I never once in my life learned to read music, and this is something I’m going to try and put right. Well, maybe. But William can, beautifully. So we thought about it, and I bonded with that piano, and I took advantage of Mr. Morley’s fantastically generous terms; and on Friday, at last, the piano was delivered. I think it feels quite at home already. I’ve been playing it all weekend long. I would have called this post something along the lines of ‘Peaceful Valley’ but I am not sure this can be quite true anymore.


33 comments on this post

The piano is breath-taking! I used to play in high school, haven’t owned one in decades. Kudos for following your passion! (For beautiful furniture, and perhaps for piano playing too!)


Where are your lovely low bookcases from?


Hi Ben , where are the bookshelves behind the sofa from? They look great and are just what I am looking for

Marilyn Barlow (was Cartwright)says:

Hi Ben, I doubt if you remember me from Sandroyd (1979-1984)but it looks like some of my English lessons worked with you!!!You have a wonderful way with words and I have just read your article in the House & Home section of the FT. Brilliant. You are clearly making a great success of your life and I wish you well. Incidentally my children were born while I was at Sandroyd and my son, Jason has a company, not too far from you in London. All the best for the future, Marilyn

Sorry to be a pain. But could you tell me what the paint is on the walls in the room shown here.

Many thanks



Dear Sue – Farrow & Ball – Shaded white


Gorgeous! Reminds me of the Bechstein that Ivor Novello plays in the movie Gosford Park.

I adore your blog.

Daniel – Ottawa, Canada

Christopher Leesays:

Dear Ben, my name is Christopher Lee and I work for Robert Morleys. I, with Janice worked on your piano. I’m glad to hear that your enjoying it and it does look stunning.


Dear Christopher, I am loving the piano. Thank you for working on it so beautifully. All best, Ben


Just to say that the pictures of the Old Parsonage made me feel like I wanted to be there and live the same dream! I am currently looking for somewhere to retire and feel that Dorset could be the place after looking at your pictures. I have kept the picture of the lake on my computer for inspiration and would love just to have the picture on the wall theres just something about it. Is there anyway that I can download this to have blown up slightly for my hall wall, I wish i lived there. Kind Regards

such beautiful images… everything looks like its from a story book… happy weekend!

Thank you for sharing these photos that exemplify the essence of classic rural English beauty!

Jo Ssays:

Could you let me know where you got your cloches and mini greenhouse things (technical gardening term there)… I need these kind of things in the garden to convince my disapointed husband that I am a gardener… beautiful blog btw.


Dear Jo, they are from Hibbitts of Oswestry, find the link here

They can take a very long time to arrive!! All best, Ben

Jo in NZsays:

Just to say .. when I read your blog, I feel as if I am taking a beautiful long breath, the freshest of air. Nothing like it!

Hello Ben, I really love your garden and the clay cloches, and your home is really beautiful with the new piano! Hope you get to play often! I first saw one of your homes in one of Ros Byam Shaw’s interior books, Living with Colour and popped over to your lovely website shop. Have a lovely weekend. Sharon


Dear Sharon – thank you. I love Ros’s books – they are all excellent, check out Perfect English Farmhouse coming shortly. All best, Ben


I’m a Dorset girl, transplanted to London and my heart aches whenever I see the photos of your beautiful west Dorset bolthole. Inspirational blog – thank you!


I am very happy to help relieve the heart ache,


35 degrees and very humid here, nothing for it but out to late dinner on the seafront, lovely Morton bay bugs, but crickets jumping everywhere, think I prefer your cool scenic beauty – waiting for a cool change tommorrow


I am sure your playing doesn’t sound like plumbing.


What I love about Mr Morley is the typed invoices!! Still done on a typewriter… Perfection. My playing sounds a bit like plumbing… 😐


Beautiful shots, Ben. Can almost feel the cool air in them. My boyfriend had a clavichord from Mr Morley. It was one of eight instruments we shunted across London when he moved house a while ago. He sold it soon after and replaced it with a flugel horn, which he is teaching himself to play but which sounds a bit like old plumbing cranking up.


Those photos and the description of that georgeous late winter morning was superb. Thanks

The piano has clearly been waiting all this time to come and live in your beautiful house. My piano is not nearly so beautiful and my guilt at the amount of dust it has gathered is immense. Time to find a duster I think.

Wow what a gorgeous piano and photos. I played as a kid but I learned by ear so now I’ve forgotten everything. My mom delivered my childhood piano to my house last spring. I’m on the hunt for a piano teacher to help. I love the piano. Such a beautiful instrument. Enjoy!


Of course I can, they are from Robert Kime on Museum Street – Christopher Payne over there would be able to organise ones exactly the same. They are silk ikats and they’ve got a lot of different types to choose from… the best!


Ben – can I ask where the beautiful “kilim” lamp shades are from?


I do enjoy reading your blog. Beautiful piano and I’m rather liking the map too. I was wondering if you’ve ever read Beverley Nichol’s books. I thought of him as soon as I began reading your blog a few months ago. I think you’d enjoy them. Am very much looking forward to visiting your shop when I come to London next.


I am very familiar with Beverly Nichols! My friend Chris Stocks gave me one of his books… 😉

oh my. it is gorgeous … and fits perfectly! as if the wonderful photos of country and your garden weren’t enough! enjoy!

a dreamscape, gorgeous in any season I’m sure

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