There comes a time though, when the city lights don’t seem to dazzle like they used to and some strange absence evokes a longing for the unseen stars and green forests, and the hills as well. It was this desire to be in nature’s company that once spirited the Romantic Movement and incited a rallying cry that sent countless idealists running for the wild.
Included in that crowd of nature-starved runaways is the model we’ve chosen for this instalment of ‘H&J’ – we’re talking about the warm and naturally stunning Laura Bailey, of course. You only have to take one look at her enchanting manor house, framed by plumes of verdant foliage and ancient trees, to see how far she has retreated from bustling city life. But let’s take a closer look shall we?
From the Streets to the Fields
Former model, now working as one of Vogue’s esteemed contributing editors, Laura Bailey is the quintessential bohemian runaway. She moved to her country manor in November 2012, when she was ready to hang up the edgy city girl style that earned her a small fortune, swapping tomboy dungarees and Liberty-print Nike wedges for woollen jumpers and loose-fitting shirts.
It might sound like a drastic turnaround, but there was no love lost.
“I grew up always wanting to be in London,” Laura said, “I love London, I’m a London girl.”
Given her busy urban start in life, it’s difficult not to see this country house as a respite of sorts. It’s a very stately hideaway, encircled by a wide chequered lawn, not to mention the bucolic surroundings, which offer a typically English touch of verdant greenery. The house itself is part-Elizabethan and part-Georgian manor, which Laura shares with her partner Eric Fellner, the co-chairman of the production company Working Title. Together they took on this restoration project eight years ago and, after a mere two years, had transformed the manor to unite the two disconnected halves of the large house. They’d also entirely redone the shoddy internal structuring in a surprisingly short space of time, aided, no doubt, by the fact Eric was used to planning and organising large groups of people, having wrestled with numerous big-pictures on behalf of his studio.
When asked why they chose this particular property Laura said, quite simply: “It was love at first sight.”
It’s easy to believe her, especially when you consider the two lakes included in their grounds, one of which has its own wooded island, as well as the softly gurgling stream that snakes around the house. Just imagine roaming through several acres of fruit orchards, meadows and forests dotted with ancient, gnarled oaks, alongside willows and pines. It all sounds rather idyllic, doesn’t it? And that’s not all – occasionally the manicured grounds are visited by colourful pheasants and other wild animals, like red squirrels and smaller birds, can often be found wandering the secret passages that writhe through their tall yew hedges.
Finally, although you might be sold on this house already, take a look at the interior of this magical redbrick manor (pictured above.) The décor effortlessly fuses tradition and history with the unique flair of a modern family. Note the contemporary art that fills the walls, offering a hint of cultured style, complemented by muted colours and vintage leather furniture. It all helps to create the atmosphere of a sanctuary, wherein the usual ties that keep us tethered to the Earth are gone. Yet at the same time, the cultured décor and grounded, familial touches serve as a reminder that they haven’t floated up into the ether and disappeared from the view of society altogether.
The Charm of Being an Individual
Usually we take a peek at our celebrity’s jewellery box, but this time we can go one step further and take a look at the jewellery Laura designed in collaboration with Sheherazade Goldsmith. Backed by the luxury jewellery company, Loquet, Laura and Sheherazade have channelled a young creative team, with designs from Michael Ventura, to bring us a contemporary take on the classic keepsake locket. These gold-framed pieces (pictured below) feature a refined selection of collectibles, offering the wearer a chance to accessorise with everything from metal charms to birthstones.
These bespoke gifts are also available in a variety of designs, from horseshoes to gold initials, with emphasis on heart and round shapes in 9 and 18ct yellow gold. They can be found in three different sizes with prices starting at £350 and the bonus of being able to attach additional charms, many of which are themed around nature, in keeping with Laura’s escape to nature. You’ll find floral studs, runic symbols and animals, including little delicate elephants and dragonflies. Take a look for yourself at: www.loquetlondon.com