A rare specimen

Buy this former Arts and Crafts artist's studio in north London, and you'll inherit not only distinguished pictures, but also your own award-winning garden

Walking along Carlton Hill, which runs across the top of the very smart Hamilton Terrace in St John's Wood, north-west London, you would never guess that a few yards away there was a most unusual studio house, set in the midst of a similarly unusual garden. The streets in this area are lined with grand Victorian mansions and behind one of these is The Garden Studio, built in the garden of number 61 Carlton Hill by an artist who lived there in the 1870s.

Walking along Carlton Hill, which runs across the top of the very smart Hamilton Terrace in St John's Wood, north-west London, you would never guess that a few yards away there was a most unusual studio house, set in the midst of a similarly unusual garden. The streets in this area are lined with grand Victorian mansions and behind one of these is The Garden Studio, built in the garden of number 61 Carlton Hill by an artist who lived there in the 1870s.

From 1905 to 1945, the house was owned by Sir George Clausen, whose work is exhibited in many galleries around the world including Tate Britain and the National, and hanging in the studio, which is now a fascinating two-bedroom home, are two of his works. "These stay with the house," says the present owner, Rosemary Clive, who - as Rosemary Moore - used to be a well-known textile designer. She is now about to launch her new career as a garden designer, inspired by what she has done to the garden around her home. "I want to create outdoor spaces where people go for recovery, enlightenment and contemplation," she says.

"One of the pictures is a pencil drawing, the other is a watercolour - and both are views from the studio into the garden. I met his granddaughter, Jane Smith, one Christmas and she came to see the house, which she said had changed considerably since the early 1900s. She remembers being painted there by her grandfather."

Most of the work on the house was done by the previous owner, Harriette Nieve, an opera singer, who returned the building to its Arts and Crafts origins and had it beautifully decorated, all in specialist finishes. Rosemary, with her husband, Barry Clive, bought the house seven years ago and she has spent most of her energies on re-designing the exterior space.

They were living around the corner on a very noisy road and were desperate to find somewhere quieter with a garden. "I was walking down Carlton Hill with a friend, saw the sign and could just see the top of the little raised roof down the end of the path. When Barry and I saw it, we instantly knew it was for us, whatever it cost. We had to have it, it was so special."

The couple didn't want to alter much of the interior as they loved the style, which is part-Gothic, part-Georgian, part-Victorian. The living area has a semi-domed ceiling, about 8m high, painted in dark blue to represent the sky, like an Egyptian tomb, with an old-fashioned ventilation space in the roof. The walls are hand-painted with wide stripes of white and soft blue.

"It is also a wonderful entertaining space," she says. "The previous owner had a mini grand piano there when we first saw it and I have had a party for 70 with musicians playing live; the acoustics are fantastic."

All the floors in the house have the original wooden boards. "Some of these do need restoring, but we felt they needed specialist work and we were concerned about disturbing things that had been there a long time, so we have just done what we can and left them," she says. The living area, which measures 21ft 3in by 18ft 6in, also has a very special fireplace - so special, in fact, that they don't use it. Nieve had bought a fireplace in the right style for the period, stripped it back to natural wood and then recreated the plaster relief on the front. "When we bought the house, we were told to take great care of it."

The kitchen, which is up a flight of stairs with ornate banisters, is hand-built to complement the Gothic style of the room, and has a wooden floor painted in a soft terracotta. All the kitchen units, too, have been hand-built, created out of pieces the previous owner found in a church. "The whole place is wonderfully light," says Rosemary. "There is a skylight in the kitchen and even on dark days you feel uplifted. And in the summer, the whole house is full of sunshine."

Off the glazed entrance hall, there is a Victorian conservatory, and the bathroom has a Victorian free-standing bath against a wall of dark oak, with white painted oak panelling on the other walls concealing the cupboards behind. One bedroom has glass doors leading out. "You can see right into the garden, which is lovely," she says. "It's full of wonderful wildlife, including birds and squirrels."

When Clausen lived there, he bought half of the garden belonging to the next door house, which is why the studio now sits in quite a large garden of its own. To reach it, you walk down the path beside number 61, go through a small gate and follow a stone pathway lined with shrubs and through the garden to the house. "When we moved in, the garden was only a garden for existing in, not relaxing in," says Rosemary. "It was a restrictive space with only a little area for sitting in and too many plants scattered around, all in the wrong places."

She has spent three years re-designing the garden and has moved many of the shrubs and trees, some of which are very rare, to make it more friendly. Now there is room to sit and to read with a large space around a very old miniature weeping cherry, beside which Rosemary has put a Japanese-inspired water feature. "The garden is so quiet that it's like your own secret little space, and I love the feeling of the past. It's more like a country garden," she says.

The garden has twice won an award from the Marylebone Society and has rare species of Philadelphus (mock orange tree), Choisya, crab apple, a Chinese wisteria and a protected 100-year-old pear tree. "The path is a very perfumed area and later in the spring, when the clematis and roses are flowering, it is so pretty," she says.

The Garden Studio is for sale for £1.35m through Goldschmidt & Howland, 020-7289 6666.

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