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Charles Robert Ashbee

(1863—1942) architect, designer, and social reformer


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(1863–1942).

English Arts-and-Crafts designer, celebrated for his metalwork, but also an architect, with some sixty buildings, most of them houses, to his credit. He was influenced by Morris, Ruskin, and idealistic Socialism, worked for a time with Bodley, and in 1888 founded the School and Guild of Handicraft, which exhibited at the 1889 and later Arts-and-Crafts exhibitions. This co-operative group of craftsmen worked for a while in the East End of London. In 1893–4 Ashbee designed a house (destroyed 1968) for his mother at 37 Cheyne Walk, London, the interiors of which were decorated by the Guild, and this was followed by other houses (notably 72–3 (destroyed) and 38–9 Cheyne Walk) in the Queen Anne Revival style (1897–1903). The Guild designed furniture for Baillie Scott's house for the reigning Grand Duke of Hesse at Darmstadt in 1898, exhibited at the Vienna Sezession in 1900, moved to Chipping Campden in Glos. in 1901, but failed in 1905. Ashbee was in the forefront of conservation, and carried out many restorations, new buildings, and extensions in Chipping Campden, all of which were carefully considered in order to respect the character of the place. His sensitivity was well tested when he adapted a ruined chapel of c.1100 as a dwelling-house at Broad Campden (c. 1906–7). He was one of the first British architects to realize the significance of Frank Lloyd Wright, and he was in the vanguard of endeavour to bring order and care to the planning of towns and cities. Mindful of the huge losses of historic buildings through redevelopment, he began a process of surveying London buildings that led to the important Survey of London volumes. He published A Book of Cottages and Little Houses (1906).

A. Crawford (1985);Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004);Service (ed) (1975);Service (1977)

Subjects: Art — Architecture.


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