Poet, artist, conservationist, craftsman, calligrapher,
printer, socialist and "dreamer of dreams": William
Morris was all of these and more. Born in 1834, much of Morris'
life was influenced by the Cotswold countryside. Kelmscott Manor
near Lechlade, not far from Bibury, became his country home from
1871 until his death in 1896. Kelmscott played an important part
in his life and can still be visited today.
Morris was one of the leaders of the Arts &
Crafts Movement which flourished from 1850 - 1920 and spread across
Europe and North America. Many of his followers remained in the
Cotswolds, and this tradition is still alive today, and inspiration
for artists and craftworkers in the countryside.
Many craftsmen frustrated by the industrial processes
they faced, found the unspoiled character of the Cotswolds ideal
to demonstrate their ideas and beliefs. The world renowned Guild
of Handicraft came to Chipping Camden from London in 1902 and set
up their workshops in the old silk mill in Sheep Street. 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
All over the Cotswolds are other examples. 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, as at Shipton-under-Wychwood, Burford and Cirencester
Architects like Bowman Jewson lovingly repaired
old buildings, such as Owlpen Manor. At Rodmarton the manor is a
splendid example of arts and crafts tradition at work - the whole
house was built in this way, taking 20 years before completion in
1929. Ashbee himself said "The English Arts and Crafts movement
at it's best is here."