Susan Hartnell Beavis calls her Blackdown Shepherd’s hut a ‘visitor’s paradise’, despite the fact that she bought the hut as her own private den. She says that her hut is so beloved by friends and visitors that they always want to take their tea inside the garden retreat.
Susan, 80, from Somerset, adores her hut and says that her love of shepherd’s huts comes from her childhood. Susan tells the story of her father who knew a hermit who lived on the Downs in Berkshire in a shepherd’s hut. She regales: “The man looked like a tramp, but my father visited him regularly and took much delight in telling me how his hut was full of books in Latin and Greek. He reminded us of the Matthew Arnold poem ‘The Scholarly Gypsy’.
“His name was Bob, and many would have passed him by as insignificant, but he wasn’t. I was enamoured of his shepherd’s hut then and loved to hear stories about Bob and the life he lived in his hut.”
It was a few years ago that the idea of having a hut dawned on Susan. “I wanted to take my grandchildren on holiday and to stay in a shepherd’s hut, but it didn’t work out.” However, the seed had been planted and when Susan, who is a painter, was looking into having an extension built so she had extra room to paint, a shepherd’s hut seemed the perfect option for her garden.
Susan says: “I abandoned the idea of having an extension because I would have lost space and it was so expensive. Instead my shepherd’s hut gives me a sanctuary. It is close by, but also hidden by shrubs and trees. It is perfectly positioned, sheltered by a willow tree which gives dappled light on the Westside.”
Susan’s painting retreat is filling up fast with books, but she keeps her computer in the house still. “It is a place to disconnect,” she says. “My friends love coming to see me and insist on taking tea in the hut. It really is a visitors’ paradise – they always sigh when they see it and step inside. It is a place for us to have a cup of tea and to relax.”
Susan’s hut has a log burner and a hob, as well as a creative area. She says that when she goes in her hut it feels like she really is getting away from it all. “I feel like I’m on holiday. With no radio and no phone, and definitely no computer, it is a completely different place.”
Susan is full of praise for the Blackdown team. “The team delivered on time and in two hours my hut was in. So much less disruption than months with an extension in the house, and it also looks wonderful. I have never seen any huts as good as the Blackdown ones.”