We celebrate the season by meeting the county’s makers of beautiful home decor
“I discovered clay and ceramics when I was experiencing a really difficult time in my life,” says mum of three Jenny Hopps. “Our middle child, Mathilda, was diagnosed with a rare form of childhood cancer in 2017, called Langerhans cell histiocytosis. Thankfully, she is doing well now and we are so grateful to Great Ormond Street.
“I started to experiment with clay as an outlet for my anxiety and worry the year after her diagnosis. I’d also just had our third child and life seemed so unsettled and fraught with worry. Clay gave me something tactile to focus on. I used to sit down and create with clay when the baby was napping and the two older girls were occupied with their own crafting. When the kids were in bed, I watched hundreds of videos on YouTube and read lots of books on ceramics. I decided to purchase a secondhand wheel on ebay and my love affair with clay officially began.”
Once Jenny had mastered the basics, she enrolled on a course at Turning Earth in East London.
She now has her own garden studio at her home near the villages of Beedon and Chieveley and sells her contemporary homewares online.
“I grew up in Berkshire but have lived and worked in London for the last 16 years,” Jenny says. “My husband, Robert, and I relocated our family back to the countryside last year to find some space and to follow our dream of renovating an old property with lots of greenery around us. I have happy memories of growing up in Newbury and Hungerford, and now I am rediscovering Berkshire. It is such a breath of fresh air after spending so much time in the city. The countryside is stunning and we are enjoying family walks around the local area, in particular Snelsmore Common with its wild ponies. The sense of freedom is wonderful.”
One very special place to the couple is Stoke Place Hotel, near Slough, where they got married in the autumn of 2010. “It is beautiful,” says Jenny.
“We live close to Saddleback Farm Shop, which sells fresh produce, flowers and meats with a fabulous delicatessen. We have a great local pub, The
Fox in Peasemore. Not only does it serve delicious food but during lockdown they opened a community shop and takeaway service. The Blackbird in Bagnor is a great local Michelin star pub and restaurant with a really inventive tasting menu. Postlockdown they have a pizza cabin,
ABOVE: Jenny in her home studio BELOW: Her signature bowls and plates