The Arts and Crafts Movement


The Arts and Crafts Movement


The Arts and Crafts Movement was one of the most influential, profound and far-reaching design movements of modern times. Its founding fathers, such as William Morris, still have a major impact on design today.

It was a movement born of ideals. It grew out of a concern for the effects of industrialisation: on design, on traditional skills and on the lives of ordinary people. In response, it established a new set of principles for living and working. It advocated the reform of art at every level and across a broad social spectrum, and it turned the home into a work of art. 

The goal was to create design that was... " for the people and by the people, and a source of pleasure to the maker and   the user." Workers could produce beautiful objects that would enhance the lives of ordinary people and at the same time provide decent employment for the craftsman. It was a movement unlike any that had gone before. Its pioneering spirit of reform and the value it placed on the quality of materials and design, as well as life, shaped the world we live in today. 

However, in time, the English Arts and Crafts movement came to stress craftsmanship at the expense of affordability. The result was exquisitely made and decorated pieces that could only be afforded by the very wealthy. Thus the idea of art for the people was lost and only relatively few craftsman could be employed making these fine pieces.

The Cotswolds became an important centre for the Arts and Crafts Movement in the early 20th century. Craftsmen and women followed in William Morris' footsteps, whose country home was at Kelmscott Manor, and settled in villages throughout the Cotswolds and Gloucestershire.

Leading Arts and Crafts practitioners were drawn to the Cotswolds by its rich craft tradition, its accessibility to London and Oxford and by the cultivated charm of the landscape. A landscape where the existing architecture served as an inspiration for the numerous large and small buildings undertaken by Arts and Crafts architects.

From 1871 –1896 William Morris spent his summers at Kelmscott Manor; in the 1890s three young architect designers, Ernest Gimson and the brothers Ernest and Sidney Barnsley, settled near Oakridge where they set up workshops and became famous protagonists for the Movement.

Throughout the Cotswolds there are many villages and churches where the work of Arts and Crafts Movement designers can be seen. Although many houses are still in private ownership and not open to the public the exteriors are, of course, still free to view!

Collection Items

Sir William Rothenstein (1872 - 1945) and his Circle
Among the many newcomers, one of the best known was Sir William Rothenstein. Born in Bradford in 1872, the son of a cloth merchant. he studied art at the Slade and in Paris where, as his great nephew Max Rutherstone wrote, 'the seventeen year old…

Alfred Hoare Powell (1865 - 1960) and Louise Powell (1882 - 1956)
Alfred Powell was born in Reading, Berkshire, on 14 April 1865, the son of Thomas Edward Powell by Emma Corrie. He was the architectural pupil of John Dando Sedding, working in the 'crafted Gothic' tradition inspired by John Ruskin. His wife, Ada…

Alfred (1878 - 1955) and Norman (1911 - 2006) Bucknell
When Gimson started designing metalwork in about 1900 he saw some hinges that Alfred Bucknell, son of William the village blacksmith at Tunley, had made for Alfred Powell. (Architect and painter of Wedgwood pottery. Gimson and Alfred set up a forge…

William and Eve Simmonds, between them : Artist, Carver / Sculptor, Photographer, Embroiderer, Book Illustrator, Marionette Maker and Puppet Master
We include two views of William and Eva's lives, the first is a formal Biographical History and the second, is an extract from ''Oakridge a History' by Pat Carrick, Kay Rhodes and Juliet Shipman which focuses on their life as part of the wider…

William and Eve Simmonds - The  Marionette Makers
The following Article was part of the Simmonds Archive gifted to Oakridge History Group. We have been unable to track down the publisher and hope that there is no breach of copyright reproducing it here. The published article has handwritten…

William Simmonds - Puppet Master
The following Article was part of the Simmonds Archive gifted to Oakridge History Group. We have been unable to track down the publisher and hope that there is no breach of copyright reproducing it here. The published article has handwritten…

Earnest Gimson (1864 - 1919) and the Barnsley Brothers
Overview Ernest Gimson was born in Leicester in 1864. At 19, he attended a lecture on 'Art and Socialism' at the Leicester Secular Society given by the leader of the Arts and Crafts revival in Victorian England, William Morris, and was greatly…

Peter Walls Workshop at Chalford
Peter Walls Workshop at Chalford  by Kay Rhodes From 1919 to 1937 a group of craftsmen worked for Peter Waals in workshops in what used to be Halliday's (or Smart's) Mill at the bottom of Cowcombe Hill. Much has been written about their work,…
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