C. R. Ashbee

Crawford, Alan
Date published: 
March 2005

Charles Robert Ashbee - architect, designer, social reformer and a major force behind the arts and crafts movement - was one of the most significant figures in British artistic and cultural life at the turn of the century. Inspired by the Romantic anti-industrialism of John Ruskin and William Morris, Ashbee started a small craft workshop in the East End of London in 1888 called the Guild of Handicraft; he not only made it a place where work could be satisfying and creative but in 1902, in the boldest gesture of of his career, he moved the Guild’s workshops out to the idyllic Cotswold town of Chipping Campden. Utilising the often vivid journals kept by Ashbee and his wife Janet, Alan Crawford documents Ashbee’s life and work, the story of the Guild and the part Ashbee played in reform movements that ranged from the conservation of historic buildings to early town planning.

This comprehensive biography of an energetic, many-sided man is elegantly written and handsomely illustrated. It is a unique contribution to art and cultural history.

Alan Crawford is a freelance writer. He is currently working on a history of the Arts & Crafts movement in England for Yale University Press, and on a new museum of twentieth-century crafts and design in the north Cotwolds.