Sarah Varley talks to Mosney Mill’s creator Emma Sutton about the idyllic Lancashire countryside setting that inspires her hand illustrated interiors and homewares
The moment Emma Sutton drove down the bumpy farm track to Mosney House she knew the place was special.
“It was really overgrown but the hedgerows were absolutely teeming with robins and birds,” recalls Emma. “There were blue tits and finches and it felt like they were showing me, and guiding me in to the grounds.”
“I’ve lived in the area all my life, but never knew this place existed, it was like entering another world.”
Emma knew immediately that she wanted this beautiful piece of Lancashire countryside to be her home and the extensive renovations she and husband Dave undertook, along with discovering the unique history of Mosney Mill, gave her the confidence to pursue her lifelong dream of designing and producing her own products.
“I’ve always loved illustrating and textiles and I took the history of Mosney to be a sign,” Emma explains. “My dad discovered this place had once been a print works and home to the first ever calico printing press capable of printing six colours simultaneously on a wheel. “This was a huge breakthrough in the industry and really led the way for modern textile printing, and as an artist, it became my dream to revive this rich heritage.”
Surrounded by nature, Emma began producing her beautiful illustrations from her perfectly placed studio in the oak-framed conservatory.
“The place is just brimming with wildlife and I draw what I see.”
Emma draws inspiration from the characters around Mosney Mill such as the now-famous robin Mosney Bob.
“He’s a really cheeky little character, and he is actually as rotund as he appears in the illustrations because he knows our routines so well, always appearing when it’s time to feed the horses or chickens. He’s not averse to the odd dive-bomb to get in on the action,” Emma recounts.
Emma’s inspiration follows the changing seasons of the Lancashire wildlife around her, from butterflies and blue tits to pheasants and deer.
“The first time I walked the land, you couldn’t see more than a few metres in front of you. I was walking our Labrador, Finn, and two roe deer leapt out in front of me,” Emma recalls.
“If I’d held out my hand I could have touched them. I don’t know who was more shocked! There haven’t been many days since then that we haven’t had a visit from the Mosney roebuck deer.”
Though now less overgrown, Mosney is still a haven for wildlife, covering 11 acres on the banks of the river including woods and a pond. It is now a family complex, with Emma’s parents and sister’s family having made Mosney home too.
Emma sought out the very best British suppliers and makers to bring her illustrations to life, and now has an extensive range of exquisite products including fabrics, wall coverings, bone china, stationery and kitchenware.
“My business is built around a love of my home,” Emma tells me, and is reflected in the Mosney Mill slogan – ‘Home at Heart’.”
“It encapsulates the sense of belonging that I instantly felt when I first arrived on Mosney and where I gain all my creative inspiration, and also represents my dedication to everything being made here in Britain.”
As Emma explains: “All the products are British made and of the best quality. The British printers we use are second to none.”
Emma has been really involved in every step of the process and ensures that all her products are beautiful but also useful.
“Everything is designed to be used and enjoyed. I make sure everything washes well and works well. I had the oven-gloves made longer because as I make lots of casseroles I know the frustration if they’re too short.”
Emma’s own home, a converted barn, is filled with lovely pieces from the collections, and as she tells me: “My mum and dad love the Reg pheasant range, the wallpaper adorns their dining room overlooking the fields I draw my inspiration from.”
Now two years since launching her business, Emma is delighted with the popularity of her Lancashire countryside depictions.
“It was lovely exhibiting at Country Living’s Christmas Fair in London recently to meet so many fans of Mosney Bob! So much has happened in the last two years, we now have stockists around the world, in Bologna, Sweden and Vancouver,” says Emma. “I think the appeal is that it is so quintessentially British. The blue tits and blossoms are particularly popular abroad for their English afternoon tea look.”