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Normandy and Its Influence on the British Arts and Crafts

Normandy and Its Influence on the British Arts and Crafts

Normandy and Its Influence on the British Arts and Crafts

Explore the wonders of the Arts and Crafts Movement from Scotland to Normandy

Departure Date: June 16, 2019
Return Date June 24, 2019
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It’s not often you get to retrace the steps of those you admire. Many of the leading British arts and crafts designers took much of their inspiration from visiting other countries and examining the work of past centuries. Beginning with Pugin and Ruskin in the 1840’s and lasting until after the First World War, artists and architects and craftworkers traveled to Normandy and wrote home about their travels and what they had seen. They drew the cathedrals and sketched the buildings and walked the landscape.

This coming June we will follow in their footsteps – though rather than ferry and walking and horse carts, we immerse ourselves in the Normandy and Picardy landscape in our small, luxury coach. We will begin, as did Morris and Burne-Jones, in Chartres with its glorious cathedral on the hill. The statues and stained glass were one of the most important buildings that Morris saw and one which convinced him on their 1855 trip to become an architect. In Chartres, just across from the cathedral square is the International Stained Glass Centre which will be among our visits in the city.

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From there we follow Morris and Burne-Jones and will stop as they did to see the cathedrals in Dreux, Evreux and Louviers. That evening we settle in at the Auberge du Clos Normand in the quaint little village of Martin-Eglise just outside of Dieppe. While here we will visit the Cathedral at Dieppe and then spend another day visiting two of Edwin Lutyens private commissions.

Many of us are familiar with Lutyens work in Surrey and Sussex in England, it is quite remarkable to see how well his work translates for in Normandy, and most particularly in Varengeville sur mer the vernacular buildings are quite similar in materials – knapped flint, brick, and tiled roofs. Les Bois des Moutiers, built for Guillaume Mallet, it is still a private home and owned by the original family. We will be guided by the current owner who is also our host at dinner is perhaps one of Lutyens’ most striking homes. Set on a hillside overlooking the water and with grounds designed by Gertrude Jekyll will be an extraordinary visit. M. Mallet also commissioned Lutyens to design a small home on the property, La Maison des Communes. This home too, is still a private residence and from here we will get a wonderful view of the l’Eglise Saint Valery which itself has a commanding view of the water and a number of graves of artists including that of Georges Braque.

On our way to Rouen, where we will stay for several days, we stop at two other quite important and varied cathedrals. The first in Beauvais and the second in Amiens where we will get a tour of the choir which is normally closed to the public. Also in Amiens we have been invited to have a small reception in a private home that looks out over the town. It will offer us an opportunity to see how people lived and live in these marvelous villages.

Rouen is a wealth of churches and medieval buildings. The Cathedral is probably best known from the paintings of Claude Monet but the town has always attracted artists and tourists. During out stay we will see another spectacular church, the xxx just a few yards away from our hotel. And then there are the several museums, all part of the Musee des Beaux Artes but two of them in separate buildings – Musee des Ceramiques just across the park and then behind the Musee Secq des Tournelles in a deconsecrated Gothic church which displays the world’s best collection of wrought iron works – some of which were shown this summer at the Clark Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. We will have tours of the museums including a behind the scenes look at a major conservation project for a mural by Walter Crane that was painted for a Newport, R.I. mansion. There will be a little time for you to explore the wonders of the city on your own – a city well worth exploring.

The final visits on this tour will feature visits to several of the Great War. Lutyens was one of the chief architects of these and on the War Graves Commission. Perhaps his most famous is the Memorial to the Missing at Thiepval, where Jekyll again did the plantings. We will be staying Arras for these visits and will also see the Canadian cemetery, Vimy Ridge by Walter Seymour Allward and the Australian Memorial at Delville Wood by Lutyens’ partner Herbert Baker.

There will be an opportunity for those who are interested to extend this tour and go to Mont St Michel or to see other memorials from the Great War or even those of the Second World War. We are happy to work with anyone who would like to do that.

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Gimson and The Barnsleys

Gimson and The Barnsleys

Gimson and The Barnsleys

Seven day tour from Cotswolds to London

Departure Date: September 7, 2019
Return Date September 16, 2019
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When Mary Greensted first published her major examination of the work of Ernest Gimson and the brothers Sidney and Ernest Barnsley in 1980, it had been over a decade since Lionel Lambourne’s Gimson exhibition at Leicester – which was opened by Gordon Russell – and over 50 years since anyone had seriously published their work. That book, “Gimson and the Barnsleys: Wonderful Furniture of a Commonplace Kind”, was reissued in 1991. And now nearly 30 years later, Mary’s new book with a reassessment of their work and their place within the world of the Arts and Crafts Movement, is short to be published.

Following several tours to the Cotswolds which looked at the work of C.R.Ashbee, William Morris, and his friends, it seems an appropriate time to offer a tour which features the work of these three major architects and designers. This tour, which will be next September, while spending the majority of the time in the Cotswolds, will begin in the north in Greenlaw, Scotland at Marchmont House where the legacy of Ernest Gimson is being carried on by Lawrence Neal. Gimson apprenticed with Philip Clissett and in turn, Lawrence’s father Neville followed the tradition. Now Hugo Burge, the owner of Marchmont House where we will be staying, is establishing a workshop in the stables.

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From Greenlaw, we head south stopping at Cragside, designed by Richard Norman Shaw who taught the three and then on to the marvelous St. Andrew’s Church by E.S. Prior in Roker which has a number of fittings by Gimson. We’ll end that evening in Bradford where Gimson executed extraordinary plaster work for the Council Chambers.

An evening at a Coaching Inn will take us back to a feeling for the time at the turn of the last century when Ernest Gimson built Stoneywell, a cottage for his own family, in Leicester which we visit the next day.

And then it is on to the Cotswolds where we stay at one of our favorite hotels, Barnsley House. Not, however, named for either of the Barnsleys but is in the charming small village of Barnsley.

While in the Cotswolds we will be visiting Rodmarton Manor, the village of Sapperton where Gimson and the Barnsleys lived, Owlpen Manor where we can see much of their furniture as we can at Hilles House where we will have dinner. And then in Broadway at the Gordon Russell Museum, we will have a chance to see a further continuation of their work and traditions.

Our final stay will be in London and from there we will visit Bedales school and its several buildings with work by Ernest Barnsley as well as going to his workshop, which again attests to the influence he and the others have had which lasts to today.

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Private Presses and Libraries in Scotland and Ireland

Private Presses and Libraries in Scotland and Ireland

Private Presses and Libraries in Scotland and Ireland

CELTIC TWILIGHT TO SURREALISM – THE ROMANCE OF IRELAND AND SCOTLAND

Departure Date: October 12, 2019
Return Date October 21, 2019
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This will be the second tour to focus principally on libraries, private presses and the often hidden treasures of private houses and museum print rooms. The first tour concentrated on collections in London, Oxford, and the Cotswolds, but next year we will go further afield starting in Ireland then crossing the water to Scotland. It will be a tour full of visual and literary delights.

Once again we will have a series of guides and lectures at the various locations and Peyton Skipwith will be with us for the entire time. In Ireland, we will also be accompanied by Mark Leslie, the founder of Martello Media, who has worked on award winning interactive exhibitions and installations throughout the world, including ‘The Life and Work of W.B. Yeats’. We will also be privileged to spend a night or two in his ancestral home, Castle Leslie.

Both Ireland and Scotland developed distinctive and subversive national twists to the Arts and Crafts Movement, which found expression in literature, stained glass, jewelry, illumination and architecture. Drawing on their respective national histories and legends Walter Scott in Scotland and W.B Yeats in Ireland wove a romantic and beguiling mythology, that to many became more real than the mundane facts of everyday history. From the ninth century Book of Kells to the early twentieth-century creations of Elizabeth Yeats’s Dun Emer and Cuala Presses, and Harry Clarke’s glowing illustrations in paint or stained glass, the legends of Ireland come alive. Just as they do in the romantic setting of Walter Scott’s Abbotsford, where we will be privileged to an evening reception.

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Among the great libraries we will visit and get behind the scenes are those of two great nineteenth century houses – Mount Stewart in Ireland and Mount Stuart on the Isle of Bute in Scotland.

In contrast to these will be access to the extraordinary Keiller archive, one of the world’s finest collections of surrealist prints and manuscripts, now housed in an adjunct to Edinburgh’s National Gallery of Modern Art. While in Glasgow we will be given access to the remarkable collection of prints by James McNeill Whistler, presented to the University by his sister-in-law and executor shortly after his death.

For the last few nights, we will be based at Marchmont House, an amazing late-eighteenth century mansion on the Scottish borders enlarged a century ago by Robert Lorimer – the Scottish Lutyens. The house has recently been restored and contains, among its many treasures, a significant collection of Arts and Crafts furniture along with an archive of designs by such important practitioners as Ernest Gimson and Neville Neale. Not far from Marchmont is Robert Smail’s Printing Works, the oldest commercial press in the United Kingdom, now a living museum of printing history.

In addition to all these treats, we will be visiting collectors and dealers as well as artist-printmakers and graphic designers. In Edinburgh, we will also visit a church decorated by Phoebe Traquair, and in Glasgow ‘Mackintosh at the Willow’, the newly recreated Willow Tearooms by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

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William Morris And Friends In The Cotswolds

William Morris And Friends In The Cotswolds

William Morris And Friends In The Cotswolds

Departure Date: May 12, 2018
Return Date May 20, 2018
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The tour, which begins on Saturday, May 12, 2018, begins in Oxford where Morris met so many who changed Morris’s history. It was here he met Edmund Burne-Jones, with whom he decorated the Debating Union which is our first stop. It was also here that he met Jane Burden who became his wife. Dante Gabriel-Rossetti was also one of those he met and worked with on projects for some time. We are so pleased that Peyton Skipwith, who is a past Master of the Art Workers Guild, has written extensively on the work of many of the artists we will see, and is a charming and knowledgeable traveling companion has agreed to accompany our tour again. In addition we will be joined by such experts as Peter Cormack, Mary Greensted, Mark Eastment, and Paul Reeves. And our hosts include Malcolm Rogers, Detmar Blow, John Biddulph and Sir Nicholas and Lady Mander.

The first two nights will be spent in Oxford at the Old Bank Hotel and our guides will be Peter Cormack and Mark Eastment. Here we’ll visit a number of sites important to Morris and other artists and architects of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Among our visits will be to the Oxford Debating Union where Morris and Burne-Jones met and painted the ceiling, anticipating the beginnings of the Pre-Raphaelites.

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We will visit several of the colleges that were significant to Morris – Exeter when he went to school, Manchester which has the largest set of Morris & Company windows in Oxford, and St Michael’s where he and Jane were married.

And then it is three nights in a most glorious and luxurious and comfortable country house hotel nestled into the Cotswold Hills. From here we have days of touring. First we will go to Kelmscott Manor for it is here that he moved in 1879, at least for some of the year, from London. In the village in addition to the Manor there are two cottages designed by Philip Webb, who also designed the headstone at St George’s church where William and Jane and their daughters are buried. In the picture below can be seen the carving by George Jack of Morris outside the Manor.

Although Burne-Jones never actually lived in the Cotswolds, he often stayed with Morris at Kelmscott Manor. While he was there he was invited by Lord Farringdon to come to his nearby Buscot Park and supervise the hanging of four paintings Lord Farringdon had bought of the Sleeping Beauty Suite. Burne-Jones did, as seen below, and painted between the paintings’ panels so it is one continuous story as we shall see when we visit and are taken around by the curator.
We will also visit the lovely, Thames-side church St Mary the Virgin where Lord Farringdon again commissioned Burne-Jones to design the “Good Shepherd” East Window.
Morris’s first major stained glass commission was for the windows at All Saints Church in the village of Selsley. The church dedsigned by G.E.Street is approached from above and has views over the entire valley.

Just on the other side of the hill is Owlpen Manor one of the most romantic early manor houses, immortalized by F.L. Griggs as seen in the etching below. In the 19th century it was bought by Norman Jewson and is now the home of Sir Nicholas and Lady Mander who are our hosts. After our tour of the house and grounds, which have some wonderful Cotswold Arts and Crafts furniture and furnishings, they have invited us to lunch.

The following day we look at the work of Ernest Gimson and Ernest and Sidney Barnsley in two of the most lovely villages – Rodmarton and Sapperton. Sapperton is the village most connected with three Arts and Crafts architects and designers – Ernest Gimson, and Ernest and Sidney Barnsley who moved to the area in 1893. They lived and worked at nearby Pinbury. In Sapperton they built the Village Hall on the site of a former wheelwright’s yard. Norman Jewson who was a resident of the village, also worked with them. As Ernest Barnsley was then working on Rodmarton Manor it is probable that the same workmen were employed at the Village Hall.

We will visit the Village Hall and Lower Dorval just below the church of St Kenelm, a short walk away, where Sidney and Ernest Barnsley are buried. There has been a church on the site since as early as 1090 though most of it is 13th and 14th century. Inside we’ll see a wealth of Jacobean paneling which may well have influenced the three architects.

In 1909 the Hon Claud Biddulph, a London banker, asked Ernest Barnsley to design a new country house for him, Rodmarton Manor. It was fully furnished throughout with furniture designed by Ernest and his brother Sidney. Over a twenty-year period, the large manor house, really a series of cottages strung together, was built by traditional methods, using local materials and workmen. Every detail in the house, from the stonework to the lead drain headers to the furnishings were made by local craftsmen. Claud Biddulph, who was in no hurry to see Rodmarton built, set aside £5,000 per year for costs.

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Where It All Began

Where It All Began

The Home Counties of Surrey and Sussex immediately to the south of London enjoy the distinction of having some of the best homes by the leading domestic Arts and Crafts architects. Houses designed just before and at the turn of the century by Sir Edwin Lutyens, C.F.A. Voysey, Baillie Scott, Thackeray Turner, and Philip Webb influenced future generations of architects. They were filled with furniture and fittings by the leading Arts and Crafts designers – extraordinary metalwork by W.A.S. Benson, furniture by George Jack, and the fabric and wallpaper designs of William Morris.

Built for the newly wealthy and emerging professional classes who either commuted to offices in London or used their homes on weekends, these houses are often still privately owned, sometimes by the families for whom they were originally built. This trip took us into many private homes and to two of the very best private collections in the entire country.

Another group of architects and designers, influenced by Morris’ idea of returning to the land, were living and working in the Cotswolds. Artists such as C.R.Ashbee and his Guild of the Handicraft, Ernest Gimson and Sidney and Ernest Barnsley, Norman Jewson and Morris himself left the cities for this rugged but exceptionally beautiful countryside. The houses they built and the objects they created for themselves and their friends express and illuminate another aesthetic within the Movement.

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