Wattle and daub Saxon hut that boy, 9, helped build, tropical rum shack and fairy-tale castle are among impressive creations battling to be crowned Shed of the Year

  • Cuprinol Shed of the Year has opened for entries for its 15th edition, which features a Lockdown category 
  • Early entrants include an impressive Saxon hut, a fairytale-inspired hideaway and an A-Frame Rum Bar 
  • Judges expect 2021 competition to be the biggest yet due to national lockdowns keeping people at home

With lockdown forcing Britons to spend much more time at home, shed enthusiasts across the UK are curating bigger and bolder designs in the battle to be crowned Shed of the Year.

The revered competition is now open for entries for its 15th edition, and entrants are encouraged to show off their immaculate lockdown garden projects across seven categories. 

Having already received more than 100 keen entries, those at Cuprinol Shed of the Year are expecting its 2021 competition to be the biggest yet thanks to the amount of time ‘sheddies’ have spent in their gardens during the pandemic.  

Among the early entries is The Saxon House, built by Daniel Pierce and his nine-year-old son in Hampshire. The impressive garden den was built using reclaimed materials, including local cuts of hazel, willow and walls made from a mixture of mud, hay and horse manure.

Elsewhere, the tropical A-Frame Rum Bar by Andrew Bebbington from Cheshire has already turned heads, with its traditional structure built as a way for Mr Bebbington to keep busy throughout the very first national lockdown.

In Derbyshire, Mark Campbell was inspired by the photographs in his granddaughter’s storybooks to create an enchanting hideaway he dubbed Winterwood. Mr Campbell – who had limited experience in building – created the fairytale castle-inspired shed in the middle of a wood, where it is surrounded by trees and wildflowers.  

Shed of the Year is now open for entries for its 15th edition, and entrants are encouraged to show off their immaculate lockdown garden projects across seven categories. Pictured: The Saxon House by Daniel Pierce

Having already received more than 100 keen entries, those at Cuprinol Shed of the Year are expecting its 2021 competition to be the biggest yet thanks to the amount of time ‘sheddies’ have spent in their gardens during the pandemic. Pictured: A-Frame Rum Bar by Andrew Bebbington

Founder and Head Judge, Andrew Wilcox, said today: ‘Since the competition started 15 years ago, we’ve seen some brilliantly creative uses of sheds across the UK.

‘Over the past year, we’ve seen people retreat to their sheds as a place of respite and sanctuary and the imagination going into them has been particularly impressive. 

‘We cannot wait to see the amazing ways people have used their sheds this year.’

Marianne Shillingford, Creative Director at Cuprinol, added: ‘Our garden sheds are more than just a place to put our tools – they are a wonderful creative outlet for an individual’s unique artistic vision.

‘Over the years, sheds have become an extension of the home and one of the most important rooms in the house.

In Derbyshire, Mark Campbell was inspired by the photographs in his granddaughter’s storybooks to create an enchanting hideaway he dubbed Winterwood (above)

Mr Campbell – who had limited experience in building – built the fairytale castle-inspired shed in the middle of a wood, where it is surrounded by trees and wildflowers. Pictured: Inside Winterwood

The 2021 competition will see the return of the ‘Lockdown’ category, which was introduced last year. Pictured: The entrance to Winterwood

‘And this past year we’ve seen people transcend the boundaries of what we think a shed could be and working on them has a much-needed passion project during a time of uncertainty and instability.’

The 2021 competition will see the return of the ‘Lockdown’ category, which was introduced last year.

Further categories include Budget, Cabin/Summerhouse, Pub and Entertainment, Unexpected/Unique, Workshop/Studio and Nature’s Haven. 

In 2020, Daniel Holloway walked away with the title of Cuprinol Shed of the Year 2020 after wowing judges with his nature-inspired refuge Bedouin Tree-Shed.  

Mr Holloway’s garden den was built around two tree trunks in his back garden and decorated with vintage etchings and specimens of butterflies, complete with a wood-burning stove for the winter months.

He said: ‘I was very surprised, but also felt very honoured and happy that the shed had been recognised as a worthy winner.

Among the early entries is The Saxon House by Daniel Pierce and his nine-year-old son in Hampshire. Pictured: The Saxon House

The impressive garden den was built using reclaimed materials, including local cuts of hazel, willow and walls made from a mixture of mud, hay and horse manure

Pictured: A fire is seen burning inside The Saxon house, which was built only using reclaimed and locally sourced materials

‘It’s very much a personal space, but as a result of Covid restrictions it has evolved into a communal space for our family – immediate and extended – and also close friends to gather and relax, in the back of the garden and away from the house.’

Mr Holloway handed his £1,000 prize money to environmental charity Trees for Cities and, since winning, he has continued to develop his shed.

Ashley Bates took home the competition’s first ever Special Commendation in 2020, after setting up The Shed School to help educate children while lockdown closed classrooms.

He said: ‘Looking back, this time last year my shed was just a shed, it wasn’t anything spectacular, it was filled with rubbish.

Elsewhere, the tropical A-Frame Rum Bar by Andrew Bebbington from Cheshire has already turned heads, with its traditional structure built as a way for Mr Bebbington to keep busy throughout the very first national lockdown


Pictured: Outside features of the A-Frame Rum Bar, which is among the early entries for the 2021 Shed of the Year 

Entries can be submitted for Shed of the Year until April 12, when a shortlist will be selected by a panel of judges before the public vote opens to select the nation’s favourite shed for 2021

‘Not a year later we’ve got this huge following of children across the world that tune into these lessons and it’s running like a business now, it’s running like a tutor service for people who are still at home and still needing that support.

‘We now run monthly mental health classes to help children suffering with anxiety and parents who need a little extra support.

‘Without Shed Of The Year we wouldn’t have gone into that, we would have closed the shed door and locked up after the first lockdown, but it’s given us that impetus to keep it going.’

Entries can be submitted for Shed of the Year until April 12, when a shortlist will be selected by a panel of judges before the public vote opens to select the nation’s favourite shed for 2021. 

What does it take to win Shed of the Year? Previous winners include a Lord of the Rings-inspired ‘Hobbit hole’, a self-sufficient ‘bee haven’ and an eight-year labour of love wrapped around two tree trunks

2020: Bedouin Tree-Shed by Daniel Holloway

The Bedouin Tree-Shed was crowned Shed of the Year in 2020. It was an eight-year labour of love for expedition organiser Daniel Holloway, who built it around two living tree trunks in his back garden in Blackheath, south London.

When the nation went into lockdown it soon became a sanctuary for the 55-year-old, his wife Beccy, 51, and their children Sam, 12, and 14-year-old Lyza.    

The extraordinary space began life as a conventional garden shed – but has been extended and modified to encompass three levels with a footprint of roughly five metres by five metres.

This Bedouin Tree Shed took eight years to build but it was well worth the effort and is the prize possession of expedition organiser Daniel Holloway

Mr Holloway (pictured) said being in harmony with nature is incredibly important for his family

It contains a host of treasures from Daniel’s extensive travels through Africa and is built around the trunks of an Ash and an Evergreen Oak.

A wood-burning stove provides comfort during the cold winter months with furniture plundered from skips and reclamation yards. The floor is made of oak planks and follows the contours of the trees inside.

The Bedouin Tree-Shed topped the Nature’s Haven category in a public vote before being awarded the overall title from a panel of judges. Daniel will receive £1,000, a plaque and £100 of Cuprinol products. 

2019: Bux End by Chris Hield

Chris Hield, from Buxton, Derbyshire, took home the acclaimed prize in 2019 for his Lord of the Rings-inspired garden den, Bux End.  The shed, which is built into a hillside, secured the most public votes in the Nature’s Haven category. 

It was then selected as the overall winner, winning Mr Hield a £1,000 cash prize, £100 of Cuprinol products, a giant crown for his creation and a wood plaque.

Chris Hield, from Buxton, Derbyshire, took home the acclaimed prize in 2019 for his Lord of the Rings-inspired garden den, Bux End. The shed, which is built into a hillside, secured the most public votes in the Nature’s Haven category  

He said at the time: ‘I’m delighted – and in shock. We are massive Lord of the Rings fans so when we decided to build our own shed we knew it had to be a hobbit hole.

‘It had to fit in with the wildlife and nature that we have cultivated in the rest of our garden so the grass roof was a big feature. Whenever we got any seeds for wild flowers we have just thrown them over the top of the shed and they have thrived.

2018: The Bee Eco Shed by George Smallwood

An eco-friendly, self-sufficient bee shed was crowned Shed of the Year in 2018, beating a converted black cab and an Irish garden pub.  

George Smallwood’s handmade structure is self-watering and houses vegetables, herbs and insects as well as being ascetically pleasing.  

Mr Smallwood, from Sheffield, said winning the 2018 title and a £1,000 cash prize was a ‘welcome surprise’, after beating all of the other competition.

George Smallwood’s handmade structure is self-watering and houses vegetables, herbs and insects as well as being ascetically pleasing. Pictured: The Bee Eco Shed

Mr Smallwood, from Sheffield, said winning the 2018 title and a £1,000 cash prize was a ‘welcome surprise’, after beating all of the other competition. Pictured: The shed

As well as working as a functional shed, on top of the structure, accessible via a set of stairs was a terraced area for Mr Smallwood to enjoy. 

Mr Smallwood said: ‘We hope our shed will inspire others around the UK to create spaces for wildlife in their garden. We’re so proud that our shed has become a habitat for nature in a small urban garden, showing you can always do your bit for making a home for nature.’ 

2017: Mushroom Shed by Benedict Swanborough

Benedict Swanborough, 47, hand-built the winning, wacky shack for 2017 after his daughter Elsie handed him £500 of her own savings and asked him for a treehouse shaped like a mushroom.

Mr Swanborough, of Chiddingfold, Surrey, got ‘carried away’ and eventually spent more than double Elsie’s budget on her dream, two-storey Mushroom Shed.

The shed boasts a trap door, stained glass window and even a glass floor section which looks out onto a stream below at the bottom of the garden.

Benedict Swanborough, 47, hand-built the winning, wacky shack for 2017 after his daughter Elsie handed him £500 of her own savings and asked him for a treehouse shaped like a mushroom. Pictured: The Mushroom Shed

He incorporated a ‘Deathly Hallows’ design in brickwork outside the front door to Elsie’s magical hangout to reflect her love of Harry Potter. A circular hammock chair hangs from the exterior so that Elsie, now 13, can relax and take in the views.

And during treetop sleepovers she can gaze at the stars through a glass section in the roof. Inside, fungi paraphernalia includes a carved giant wooden mushroom on the floor and a wall chart entitled ‘Les Champignons’ showing different types of mushrooms.

2016: West Wing by Kevin Herbert

Made from 90 per cent recycled materials and set across three sections, the West Wing includes a bed in loft space, an area to relax and escape, a secret bookcase, a play area, storage and workshop. 

Speaking about his win, Kevin Herbert said: ‘We were up against some tough competition this year as the sheds were more eccentric and impressive than ever before. 

Made from 90 per cent recycled materials and set across three sections, the West Wing includes a bed in loft space, an area to relax and escape, a secret bookcase, a play area, storage and workshop

‘So I am so honoured and proud that my shed at the bottom of the garden was chosen as the winner of Shed of the Year 2016. 

‘I just want to say a huge thanks to everyone who voted for West Wing – the eight years that it took to build has really paid off!’ 

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