ONCE UPON A TIME

In Somerset

In 1965 Angela and Alban Bunting purchased the two condemned terrace houses that were to become Spindle Cottage. Turning this dilapidated structure into the work of art it is today would be a life’s work for the couple.

“Built in 1640, it was definitely the worst cottage of the six we looked at, but the cheapest at £1,250 and the most exciting prospect. It had two bucket toilets and one of them leaked. And the roof leaked too – the walls were green from the rain pouring in and the wallpaper hung off in sheets. Every period feature had been cemented over, boxed in or covered up.”
— Alban Bunting

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HOW THIS ALL STARTED

Alban and Angela set to work, calling in favours from friends and family and using all of the skills Alban had honed as a carpenter. Two years later the the house was in a good state and fit to call home. In 1968 Angela and Alban moved in permanently with their three small children. At this point the houses still had no access to running water and after moving in one of Alban’s first jobs was to dig down at the bottom of the garden and build a well – which still stands today.

In 1980 Alban built a workshop in the garden and began to fashion the features and fittings that give the houses their unique character today. All kinds of native woods were used to build the cabinets, doors, staircases and panelling. Each piece a showcase for Alban’s craftsmanship and creativity, and most adorned with a small mushroom engraving that has become his signature.

He often worked in miniature too, creating two mouse houses – one of which is in the holiday cottage – within in a skirting board and toy cupboard. Glass swans were built into a door and into the beams were carved the arrival and departure dates of a family of swallows that shared the garden in the summer months. Several local artists have also made their mark, supplying stained glass, painting and sculpture.

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The arrival of their three grandchildren spurred even more creativity as Alban and Angela went about turning their large garden into the ultimate playground. The playhouses were built between 2002 and 2005 and are another example of Angela and Alban’s imagination, meticulous attention to detail and appreciation of traditional building techniques. By 2009 the Jousting Tent and Guardrobe were added to the garden, alongside the Sentry box – complete with life-size cutout of Alban – and the Potting Shed, complete with a barrel ceiling inspired by a trip to India. The most recent addition to the garden is the Shepherd’s Hut, built in memory of Alban’s grandfather.

“Over the years it has become a home to share, and it is so enjoyable to meet such interesting people. All of our guest have shared in, and I hope felt, the magic of Spindle Cottage. Long may they continue to come. ”
— Angela Bunting

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