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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Ruth Bloomfield

London leavers: 'Robbie Williams and I plan our artworks over the phone now I've swapped Acton for Shropshire'

When Ed Godrich, artist, interior designer, and serial entrepreneur, decided to move out of London he wanted it to be a really radical life change.

And so he and his husband swapped an Art Deco warehouse apartment in Acton, west London, for an isolated five bedroom house buried in Shropshire’s beautiful Corvedale Valley.

Ed, 49, was born and raised in Shropshire, but moved down to study at Camberwell Art School. London’s art scene in the 1990s was on fire, and Ed felt like he had found his place in the world.

“I had come from rural Shropshire, so it was really exciting — it was the only place to be if you had just graduated and wanted to progress,” said Ed.

Godrich met Robbie Williams when he designed the pop star’s house in Holland Park (Getty Images for Sotheby's)

His first job was with a design agency but in 2003 he teamed up with an old school friend Rupert Hunt to form Godrich Interiors, with Ed handling the creative side and Rupert the finances.

The company quickly established itself as a force, designing luxury homes around the world.

Clients included Robbie Williams who hired the team to design his house in Holland Park and became a close friend.

Slowly, however, Ed became more and more interested in creating his own art, with Williams as his collaborator.

“It was very, very organic the way it happened, but I gradually edged myself out of the interiors business,” he said “Interior design requires a lot of attention to detail and hand holding and reassurance, but I slowly went from five days per week to three days to two days.”

Ed’s family are all still based in Shropshire and many of his old friends have returned to the area, and as he cut down on his London-based work he found himself spending more and more time there.

“The more time I spent here the more I realised that there were tons of people doing really creative things,” he said. “I felt like I had found my tribe.”

Godrich and his husband Johnny Bergius have been refurbishing their rural home (Handout)

In 2020, just before the pandemic erupted, Ed, his husband Johnny Bergius, 63, a buying agent, and their two border terriers, Bev and Kev, left London and moved to a hilltop house in the country which they set about refurbishing.

To give himself a space to work Ed, along with his business partner Rupert and Rupert’s wife Jude, bought a Victorian workhouse building in Ludlow.

The building is the base for his company Williams Godrich, a collaboration with Robbie Williams; the pair have been creating art together for a decade now.

They block in time to work together on their pieces, as well as working separately (but in constant phone contact) to create their canvases.

For Ed the countryside is the perfect creative backdrop.

“It is really special being able to open my windows in the morning and see green fields,” he said. “It is completely quiet, which I need for my work.”

When not working Ed takes long walks with the dogs, and he and Johnny regularly visit the Welsh coast.

After the local pub, The Tally Ho Inn in Bouldon, was threatened with closure, the couple stepped in to help save it. It is now their perfect local.

“I worked really hard in London,” said Ed. “It was hardcore doing people’s houses for 20 years. But I learned everything I know doing it, and it has set us up well here.”

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