Arts & crafts
William Morris - Arts and Craft movement
William Morris, one of the leaders of the Arts and Crafts movement, was greatly influenced by the Cotswold countryside. Kelmscott Manor in West Oxfordshire became his country home from 1871 until his death in 1896. Kelmscott played an important part in this life and can still be visited today.
The World-renowned guild of handicrafts, which was founded by the architect C R Ashbee, came to Chipping Campden from London in 1902. Today it remains a centre for crafts, and descendants of the original group are still there. You can visit the Trust’s permanent exhibition of their work and see the contribution made by modern designers and makers.
Architects like Norman Jewson lovingly repaired old buildings, such as Owlpen Manor. At Rodmarton, the manor is a splendid example of arts and crafts traditions at work – the whole house was built in this way, taking 20 years to build before completion in 1929. Ashbee himself said "The English Arts and Crafts movement is at its best here."
There are other examples of the influence of this style all over the Cotswolds. A group flourished in the Upper Frome Valley above Stroud and around Sapperton, making fine furniture. There are churches with examples of stained glass craftsmanship at Shipton-under-Wychwood, Burford and Cirencester.
Located in Broadway, the Gordon Russell Design Museum celebrates the work and philosophy of one of the visionary leaders of both design and its importance in education in the 20th century. Although greatly influenced by the arts and crafts movement, Sir Gordon Russell (1892 -1980) developed an early modernist style which his firm sold worldwide.
The many unusual collections in the Cotswolds often reflect life-long commitments and passions such as the Roman floor-mosaics from Gloucestershire villas, now housed in the Corinium Museum in Cirencester. Keith Harding’s World of Mechanical Music in Northleach includes musical boxes, self-playing musical instruments and automata. Snowshill Manor, managed by the National Trust, is a fascinating cornucopia of objects collected by Charles Wade, and housed in a Tudor manor.
Craft in Action
There are lots of opportunities in the Cotswolds to see craftspeople at work. New Brewery Arts in Cirencester, contains craft workshops and an exhibition gallery. Cotswold Woollen Weavers is housed in an 18th century building in Filkins where there is a working woollen mill and superb weaving machinery. The Silk Mill at Chipping Campden is where you will find the last operating workshop of the guild of handicraft. It specialises in domestic silverware and ecclesiastical and civic silver. Westonbirt Arboretum at Tetbury has a ‘sculptree’ wood-carving event each August.