House Design

Design House: A Cotswold Christmas – explore this 18th Century British barn conversion

Take a tour of this historic English home, dressed and ready for the holidays

Cotswold Christmas
Photography/Polly Eltes
(Image credit: Future)

This Christmas marks a turning point as Jo Barnes 
and her family welcome their first guests to celebrate the festive season at Anthology Farm, a pair of 
Grade II-listed barns in the Cotswolds. 

Scroll down to enjoy their beautiful home and read their fascinating history – then jump to our page of the world's best homes to see more beautiful houses.

Cotswold Christmas

Photography/Polly Eltes

(Image credit: Future)

It hasn’t been an easy journey to get here. In 2016, after a decade of uncertainty, the family farm in Staffordshire was compulsory purchased to make way for HS2 - a large-scale transport project. 

For Jo’s father-in-law, John, it was particularly emotional as his family had farmed there since 1921. 
‘It was a difficult time,’ says Jo. ‘Not only had we lost the farm, but my mother-in-law Rosemary and I had to close our businesses, 
a farm shop and wedding venue, and start again.’

Cotswold Christmas porch

Photography/Polly Eltes

(Image credit: Future)

Fortunately, a farm came up 70 miles down the road in Gloucestershire and the family jumped at it.

‘We could see the potential immediately,’ says Jo. ‘Farms have to diversify these days to survive. The land was perfect for John and my husband Henry to farm and we knew the barns would make a fantastic holiday let.’ 

Cotswold Christmas living room

Photography/Polly Eltes

(Image credit: Future)

Set in 500-acres, Anthology Farm is comprised of two barns, set in an L-shape. 


The previous owners had used them as office space and the buildings were full of small meeting rooms, long corridors and 
dark wood partitions. 

They opted to move the huge staircase in 
the middle of the main, bigger barn. Replacing it with a simpler one, set discreetly to the side, opened up a dramatic, double-height space that became the dining room. 

See more: Modern farmhouse ideas – creative ways to perfect this style in your home

Cotswold Christmas dining room

Photography/Polly Eltes

(Image credit: Future)

The huge, arched picture window at the back was updated 
and double-glazed, and most of the windows were changed 
to suit the heritage style of the barns. 

Cotswold Christmas porch detail

Photography/Polly Eltes

(Image credit: Future)

‘We were really keen to expose some of the brickwork. It’s 
lovely, honey-coloured local stone from the Doddles Hill mines opposite the farm and we felt it would add real character to the property,’ says Rosemary. 

‘Even though it’s a huge space, the 
light bounces off the walls and makes it feel really cosy.’ 

Cotswold Christmas kitchen

Photography/Polly Eltes

(Image credit: Future)

The family decided to engage an architect, as well as interior design company Run for the Hills, to work on the project. ‘As soon as I saw the barns, I knew I wanted to be part of this project,’ says Run for the Hills founder Anna Burles. 

Cotswold Christmas bedroom

Photography/Polly Eltes

(Image credit: Future)

‘Jo did the right thing bringing us on board at the beginning, as we could ensure the architectural design also worked for the interior design. It succeeded because everyone collaborated so well together.’ 

Cotswold Christmas bedroom

Photography/Polly Eltes

(Image credit: Future)

The family knew they wanted the interiors of the barns to be neutral and monochromatic, but they also briefed Anna to add some eclecticism.

‘We deliberately gave every bedroom and bathroom its own personality,’ says Jo. ‘We wanted them to 
be cosy, stylish and comfortable, but not too fussy.’ 

Cotswold Christmas bathroom

Photography/Polly Eltes

(Image credit: Future)

Jo and Henry stayed in the main barn last New Year with 
their daughters. 

‘The children thought it was magical,’ says Jo. 
‘I particularly love gazing out of the picture window in the dining room over the Cotswolds. It’s an amazing view, especially when tinged with a little Christmas frost. We love the place so much; 
it’s got everything my dream home would have.’  

Cotswold Christmas bedroom detail

Photography/Polly Eltes

(Image credit: Future)

Anthology Farm is available to rent through Unique Home Stays.

Words/Anna Pattenden

Jennifer Ebert
Jennifer Ebert

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. 


Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.