Christmas greetings

from Shorland Old Farm

At the end of this oddest of years, Sandy and Mark would like to send you all our warmest Christmas wishes, and to tell you how much we missed having all our artists here this year. The place has felt very empty and quiet without the buzz of people filling the house and studio with life. But we’re still here – just about! Hanging on by our fingernails and trying to be optimistic for next season. Bring on the vaccines!

Because most of our 2020 bookings have been moved to 2021, it does mean there are only limited places left for most courses next year, so if you are interested in any of next year’s offerings, do get in touch sooner rather than later.

Thank you

We’d also like to add a big thank you to everyone who’s contacted us during this stressful year to offer encouragement and support. We have really appreciated it. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: we have the best guests here at Old Shorland.

We know that many of you have had a really tough year too. Here’s hoping you can all make the most of whatever kind of Christmas you are allowed to have, and that 2021 is a whole lot easier than this year has been.

Looking to the future

Some of you have contacted us because you have noticed that Shorland Old Farm has appeared on the market this year. Just to reassure you, this is not a direct result of Covid-19. When we came here, it was with a 10-year plan in mind and we are now approaching year 9. Selling a property like Old Shorland is not the same as selling a normal domestic property and we know it could well take a long time – even years – to sell, so we didn’t want to wait until the ten years were up before putting it on the market. After all, neither of us is getting any younger. In fact, Mark passed a milestone birthday this year, which helped focus our minds on the fact that we would like to be at least taking a step towards retirement.

Rest assured, we don’t anticipate anything happening in a hurry, so no need to worry about 2021 courses. The ideal scenario would be that someone comes along who wants to carry on running art holidays here. We would love for that to happen but realise we have to be realistic. It is a great business – the clientele are especially wonderful! So, if anyone knows of someone who might be looking for a great opportunity, do point them in our direction.

Looking forward to welcoming you

in 2021

Covid-19 update July 2020

We’ve  missed you!

It’s been a strange year, thanks to Covid-19.  Shorland has never been so quiet.  We do hope you have all managed to stay safe and well during this coronavirus crisis.

It’s been a stressful season so far, business-wise.  We’re not alone as many sectors of the economy have been decimated by the lockdown.  Wondering how we’re going to survive and trying to make plans when no one knows what’s round the next corner has been challenging, to say the least.  We have very much appreciated the understanding of our guests.  Thank you to those of you who have sent us kind messages of encouragement and support.  it’s meant a lot to us in a difficult situation.

What’s been happening

As far as painting holidays go, not a lot!  We were a couple of weeks away from the first course of the year when the lockdown hit. As a seasonal business just about to get going again after the winter, the timing was a hefty blow.  We were determined to remain optimistic, but as the weeks went by, it became apparent we were likely to lose most of the season’s courses.  We rescheduled as many as we could, but inevitably, there have been a number of disappointed individuals and art clubs.  In the end, we have arranged for people to transfer onto equivalent courses in 2021.  We realise this is going to limit availability for anyone who was hoping to visit next year who has not already booked, but there have been cancellations so there should be a number of places available if you were hoping to come on a particular course, or with a particular tutor, next year.  Do get in touch if that’s the case.  Even if we aren’t able to allot you a place immediately, we will do so as soon as a place becomes vacant.

July and August

In consultation with those booked to come, all tutored courses and art club bookings until 12 September have now been cancelled and we will be running equivalent courses in 2021.  Sue Ford’s painting holiday at the beginning of September is the only course we’ve had to cancel entirely as we weren’t able to find a date next year that both we and Sue could do.

While the reduction of the 2m rule to a 1m plus has made it possible for many businesses to open up again, for us, trying to find a compromise between safety and social enjoyment factoring in the limitations of our building, has proved extremely difficult.  Distancing people in the studio is not such a problem, but how to manage the dining arrangements presents all sorts of dilemmas. We have discussed every possibility we could think of, from hiring marquees to stripping out the dining room and living room and hiring in smaller tables, so that everyone could sit apart with their backs to each other.  However, half of the joy of a painting holiday is the social aspect and that would be lost if we went down this route.

We are also aware that the majority of our guests fall into the older category and we certainly don’t want to put anyone at unnecessary risk.  When we consulted the people booked to come in August, only a handful told us they would be happy to come with the Covid situation as it is.  The overwhelming response was that people would prefer to wait until next year.

September and October

For the time being, we are still keeping our fingers crossed for courses scheduled from mid-September, but unless the Covid-19 situation improves, those might also have to be cancelled and equivalents planned for 2021.  We will be in touch nearer the time if the current situation isn’t improving and being able to run courses satisfactorily looks in doubt.

2021 Schedule

We are delaying publication of the 2021 schedule until we know for certain which courses will not be running this year, as that will have a major impact on what we will be able to offer next year.


In an effort to make at least a little income this year, we have decided – initially for July and August only – to offer both the main farmhouse and the cottage as self-catering holiday accommodation.  The main farmhouse sleeps 17 people, the cottage 3.  We will be letting them separately or as a single unit.  If you know of anyone looking for either a small or large place to get away, please do mention us to them.

There is now a self-catering page on our website and we are also advertising on


We send you all our best wishes.  Stay safe and well, and we very much hope we will get to see you soon.

Last minute availablity on Paul Weaver’s Essential Sketching & Drawing course

Owing to a late cancellation, we have last minute availability on Paul Weaver’s Essential Sketching & Drawing course, 6 – 10 September 2018.  Full details of the course, and contact details, can be found on our art holidays and courses 2018 page:


Open art retreat at Old Shorland

Bridge in the dell15 – 19 September 2018

With no tuition and no itinerary to follow, whatever your experience or ability, this is a chance to relax in the company of other like-minded painters, draw, paint and be inspired by by the beautiful countryside of Exmoor and North Devon.  Or maybe just read a book, go for a walk, or sit and take in the scenery.

Our spacious and well-equipped studio will be there for you to use, and if the weather’s good, there is plenty of inspiration in the gardens and grounds, plus stunning coast and countryside all around.

Arrival is from 4pm on Saturday 15th September, departure at 10am after breakfast on Thursday 19th.  The cost includes accommodation; breakfast; light lunch; a two-course dinner followed by coffee; use of the studio during your stay, with tea, coffee and biscuits available all day.  The majority of our rooms are en-suite, and non-painting friends and partners are welcome.


£350 per person single occupancy; £300 per person sharing a room

To check availability, request a booking form, or for more details, email, or call Sandy on 01598 763505.


Fancy a group break in September?

Owing to a cancellation, we have availability between 15 – 27 September 2018.  If you would be interested in coming with a group to Shorland (minimum 8 people, maximum 14), for three to seven days, do get in touch.

Email or call Sandy on 01598 763505.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be art.  We host writing groups, walking groups, photography groups…any group that would appreciate staying in a 17C farmhouse in a glorious Exmoor setting.

Places available for The Pleasure of Pastels

Owing to a cancellation, we now have a room available (possibly two) for The Pleasure of Pastels, with Carol Kibble, 25 September – 1 October 2017.

It’s a six-day course, all inclusive.  £765 for a single room, £693 sharing, £453 non-painting partner (sharing a room).

For a booking form, or for more details, email, or call Sandy on 01598 763505.

For full details of the course, click here: Pleasure of Pastels


Mosaics at Shorland

Trudy Britton leads mosaic workshops in Kent and is bringing a group to Shorland this summer, 15-19 August 2016.  Anyone interested would be very welcome to join the group.

The course will run over three days, with four nights’ accommodation included.  The holiday price includes three two-course evening meals.  The group will be eating out locally on Wednesday evening.

Holiday prices 
£364 single room
£316 sharing
£216 non-participating partner
(Holiday price does not include materials)

For more information, contact: