and the guild
The Guild of Handicraft was founded in 1888 by Charles Ashbee, the British architect and designer, a pioneer of the Arts and Crafts movement and devotee of William Morris. The main aim of the movement was to revive craftsmanship and restore traditional design and decoration that had been in decline since the industrial revolution.
In 1902, to improve the quality of life for his craftsman, Ashbee moved the Guild from workshops in the East End of London to Chipping Campden in the heart of the Cotswolds. The Guild consisted of around fifty jewellers, enamellers, woodcarvers, cabinetmakers, silversmiths, French polishers and bookbinders, in addition to their wives and children. The group, some two hundred in all, descended on Chipping Campden and with them brought fresh skills, knowledge and ideas, making the market town a centre for the study of Arts and Crafts tradition and contemporary design in the early part of the 20th century. Although in the long term the experiment did not sustain, there were some who stayed on. Among them was silversmith George Hart, who, in the best traditions of the Guild, passed on his skills to his son Henry. Henry in turn taught his own son David, who runs Hart Silversmiths today.
Since Charles Ashbee set up the Guild in an old silk mill in Sheep Street, Chipping Campden and the surrounding area became a large part of the British Arts and Crafts movement and the Guild influenced many of its notable designers and craftsmen. The designer and furniture maker Gordon Russell, whose father moved his family to the Lygon Arms in 1904, set up the famous Russell and Sons in nearby Broadway and his original drawing office and workshop can still be seen today at the Design Museum in his name.
The Court Barn Museum in Chipping Campden, a museum of craft and design, has collections aiming to promote craftsmen working in the north Cotswolds since 1900. It displays many works in the Arts and Crafts tradition, including that of the Guild and many eminent local craftspeople, telling a compelling and comprehensive history of the movement.
The Old Silk Mill, in addition to being the home of Hart Silversmiths, also includes the Gallery at the Guild – a co-operative of more than twenty artists and artisans who moved into the building in 2005, bringing a variety of contemporary and traditional craftspeople that are continuing the true culture of the Guild of Handicraft. The co-operative members include ceramicists, designers, furniture makers, glass makers, metal workers, photographers, sculptors, wood and stone carvers and textile artists. There are ever-changing exhibitions and a shop, please visit their website for details. Harts are always happy to welcome visitors to the workshop and there is an excellent cafe on the ground floor, the Campden Coffee Company.