Into the woods: how an old shed inspired hundreds of stories

A derelict property in Surrey has been transformed into a storybook haven for artists

The garden designer Anthony Paul has lived in the same black-and-white cottage in the Surrey Hills for more than 40 years. He is surrounded by villages that recall the trees that once defined the landscape: “Ockley, Forest Green, Ewhurst, Holmwood – these are all forest names,” he says. “The oaks here were some of the finest in England, because we’re on clay – and clay, for some reason, grows beautiful oaks. I call them the lords of the forest.”

Anthony found his home in the pages of the Sunday Times in 1977 while living in London with his long-term partner, Hannah Peschar, a Dutch journalist, and running his own garden maintenance company (he was responsible for the upkeep of Paul McCartney’s patch of land in St John’s Wood). The couple spent their weekends exploring the countryside and plotting their escape from London.

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