The heart of the home is also the home in miniature, a multi-purpose room that is all things to all family members, as much a repository of secret, fleeting hopes as of the good things that emerge from cupboards and oven doors.
The perfect kitchen lends itself to assertive Modernism or a retreat into the past, its surfaces made from poured concrete and coloured Corian or reclaimed French fruitwood and scrubbed pine. Careful planning underlies the siting of oven, sink, food-preparation areas and washing-up machine. Zinc-topped or covered in oilcloth, the kitchen table will draw family members and visitors alike. This Queen Anne building was built by George Mason circa 1700 and has recently been repaired and redecorated by Edward Bulmer. That combination of shared laughter and mouthwatering diversions makes every kitchen an Aladdin’s Cave.
Its table seats upwards of eight and is more often used for entertaining than the dining table.

In round pots grow aromatic clouds of basil, coriander and oregano; there are goldfish in a tank or, come the spring, a slick of opaque frogspawn.
Here, raffle tickets for the church appeal come to rest beside a scurf of pens, the newspaper television supple-ment and a china footbath planted with scented pelargoniums. UK, publisher of Country Life and other iconic brands about its goods and services, and those of its carefully selected third parties.
Like soft rock, it bears the impress of daily life, its tabletops scored by a variety of hands, walls busy with children’s artwork, noticeboards bristling with new and spent invitations. Perhaps an island or a sofa with an upright back provides a partial screen between the busy cook and his or her guests.
Its magnet-like status arises through consensus-and when parents yearn to listen to the radio undisturbed beside the Aga, they learn to quash what is, after all, a foolish notion. It’s a place for physical and metaphorical nourishment, and is happy-warm with the heartbeat of a shining range oven and the breath of sleeping dogs.

First fingers of natural light add cheer to winter breakfasts; after dark, electric lighting targets food-preparation areas. Possibly, the cook-host distracts their attention with a glass of something delicious taken from the wine racks, which, as in trendy restaurants the world over, are a feature of the decoration. Here, the dresser is partly decorative, its shelves rainbow bright with old Majolica and Sunderland lustre, spongeware, ironstone breakfast cups and vintage Coronation mugs.

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