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The Arts and Crafts Movement in the Cotswolds

As architects, designers and makers developed ideas for new ways of living and working, they began to look beyond the polluted cities. The countryside represented the vanishing rural idyll and an opportunity to live the simple life. Gloucestershire became the main rural centre for the Arts and Crafts Movement.

The Cotswolds, with their remote hills and valleys and stone built villages, were rediscovered at the end of the 19th century. The area had been through a catastrophic economic depression with the loss of the wool trade to newly industrialised centres in the north of England. A second blow was the crisis in farming in the 1870s. As a result many people left the area.Workshops and cottages were readily available and relatively cheap.

William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti jointly leased Kelmscott Manor, near Lechlade, as a rural retreat in 1871. Craft communities developed around Ernest Gimson and Sidney and Ernest Barnsley, who moved to the south Cotswolds in 1893. C R Ashbee’s Guild of Handicraft – over 50 craftsmen and their families – moved to Chipping Campden from London’s East End in 1902.

The Cotswold Arts and Crafts tradition has been an enduring one. Its legacy today includes the Gloucestershire Guild of Craftsmen. The Cotswold style is known throughout the world for its high quality workmanship and simple designs.

Gimson, the Barnsleys and the craftspeople of the South Cotswolds

C R Ashbee, the Guild of Handicraft and the craftspeople of the North Cotswolds

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