Shapland and Petter produced a wide range of furniture in the Arts and Crafts style designed to appeal to the growing market of middle class consumers who wanted tasteful homes and modern artistic furniture in the mid 1890’s to 1900.
The design and decoration of their furniture followed the popular designers of the time such as M.H Baille Scott and C.F.A Voysey who continued to develop the arts and crafts style previously established by William Morris.
Shapland and Petter were influenced by designers such as Bruce Talbert, J.P Seddon and Charles Eastlake who designed a lot of furniture for the Lancashire cabinet makers Gillows in the 1870’s. Some of the features relevant to their designs were as follows
1. Straight lines, long strap hinges and ring handles
2. Applied enamel plaques and painted panels
3. Revealed construction showing dove tails and tenons
4. Cut through work, piercing and repeated rows of spindles
5. Inset decorative panels and inscribed quotations or motto’s, many of the motto’s and quotations taken from relevant writers of the period and poets, such as “Reading maketh a full man”, “welcome ever smiles” and “words are like leaves and were they most abound much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found”.
Sidney’s son, Edward continued the family tradition, making fine furniture according to his fathers philosophy and became a figure head in his own right.
They were also associated with the designers and makers Gordon Russell and the Dutchman Peter Waals,or van der Waals.
Sidney Barnsley rebuilt a church, formerly in Hagia Sophia in 1891 in the free Byzantine style. He used Red brick and stone in various patterns eg chequer work, herringbone and basketweave and a plain tile roof. He installed a single unit aisled nave and chancel; an east end with polygonal apses, the outer ones as angled bay windows; imposing west front; a large planked and studded door with scalloped metal framing under round arch with inscription; a stone dressed diocletion window above the narthex under a pent roof; round headed lancet windows on other façades and in the apses of the east end.
Interior features include: Arts and Crafts movement lectern, pulpit and reading desk, in ebony and holly with mother of pearl inlay, priests’ chairs with domed canopies, byzantine capitals from Constantinople and Ephesus decorating the aisles and west wall.
Blackwell is one of Britain’s finest houses from the turn of the last century and survives in a truly remarkable state of preservation retaining almost all of its original decorative features, including the rare and fragile hessian wall-hangings in the Dining Room. One of the real joys of Blackwell lies in its wealth of detail, from the leaf-shaped door handles and curious window catches to spectacular plasterwork, stained glass and carved wooden panelling. Blackwell remains an internationally important icon of Arts and Crafts architecture.
Blackwell’s period rooms have been carefully furnished with the blend of Arts and Crafts furniture and early country-made pieces advocated by its architect, Baillie Scott. The Arts & Crafts Movement, a reaction against the increasing dominance of mechanisation brought about by the Industrial Revolution, was championed by John Ruskin and William Morris, the ‘fathers’ of the movement, who sought to re-establish the importance and worth of designer-craftsmen. Britain’s consumers were urged to achieve beauty, simplicity and practicality in the home.
Blackwell is a large house, but with its half-landings and split-level spaces its architect created somewhere with the atmosphere of an intimate family home. Nature’s flowing lines, which inspired Art Noveau, can be seen throughout the house, from the design of the stained glass plants and flowers to the rhythmic scrolling foliage in the carved wooden panelling in the Hall
Visitors are encouraged to sit and soak up the atmosphere in Blackwell’s fireplace inglenooks, which boast fine examples of tiles by Arts & Crafts designer William de Morgan, and are free to enjoy the house as it was originally intended, without roped-off areas. The inviting window seats offer stunning views of the surrounding Lakeland scenery.
Beautiful scenes from Blackwell
Birmingham Guild of Handicraft was an Arts and Crafts organisation operating in Birmingham, England. Its motto was ‘By Hammer and Hand’.
It began as a loose part of the Birmingham Kyrle Society, then became a more fully formed group within the Kyrle Society in 1890, under the leadership of the silversmith and architect Arthur Stansfield Dixon (1856–1929) and with the lawyer Montague Fordham as first director, in Vittoria Street School for jewellers and silversmiths. In 1895 the Guild set up as an independent workshop and limited company with the guidance of Edward R. Taylor who was an important figure in the history of Birmingham School of Art. William Kenrick local MP and Arts and Crafts enthusiast became a director. The Guild’s first address was at Kyrle Hall, Sheep Street, the same studios later being taken over by John Paul Cooper. In 1898 the Guild moved to 44-5 Great Charles Street. The Guild produced furniture and metalware, taking special advantage of the switch to electric lighting and the consequent need for new light fittings. Arthur Dixon was the chief designer and head of metalwork workshop. Other members were A E Jones and Thomas Birkett. Bernard Sleigh was a teacher at the Guild.
The Guild also produced fine books under the ‘Press of the Birmingham Guild of Handicraft, Limited’ and a periodical titled The Quest. The Quest began in November 1895 and aimed to appear three times a year, but was short-lived. William Morris was a contributor. Those involved with the Press were Ernest Treglown, A.J. Gaskin, and C.M. Gere. Charles Carr and Mary Newill were book illustrators for the Guild. The Press was still active in 1919, when it published Memorials: The Work of the Architect and Craftsman in the Design and Execution of War Memorials.
The Guild ran a London showroom, headed by Martin Muir, at 7 Newman Street, Oxford Square.
The Guild was modelled on Charles Robert Ashbee’s 1888 Guild and School of Handicraft, and it found itself in similar financial difficulties due to high running-costs and lack of money-making ventures. Due to commercial pressures there was a merger with E & R Gittins in 1905 which brought Llewelyn Roberts in to the organisation. In 1919 there was a further merger with Hart, Son & Pearl. The name was still shown until 1950 in directories as “The Birmingham Guild Ltd., Architectural & Decorative Metalworkers”, the addresses being Grosvenor Road West and Sherbourne St. B16.
J.S. Henry were wholesale manufacturers in Old Street, London, of light, ornamental furniture from about 1880, and Art Nouveau pieces of mahogany and satinwood with decorative inlays in the 1890s. Their beautiful pieces were retailed through a Paris agent at the 1900 Centennial Exhibition, where they won two silver medals. At the Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society in 1903 the company showed designs by George Walton and W.A.S. Benson. G.M. Ellwood (1875 – c.1960) was their most prolific designer, and although they used designs by C.F.A. Voysey, E.G. Punnett and W.J. Neatby, few designers were named.
Sir (Sydney) Gordon Russell (1892-1982) was one of the most important figures in the history of 20th century furniture. From his early Cotswold Arts and Crafts furniture , to the modernist antique desks of the post-war period, he managed to embrace mass production and mechanisation without losing the underlying concepts of high quality craftsmanship. The history of his antique cabinets, tables, chairs and concept furniture can be tracked at the Gordon Russell Museum, housed in his original workshop premises in Worcestershire.
Russell spent his early years in Cricklewood, London, before moving to the Cotswolds town of Broadway in 1904, when his father bought the Lygon Arms Hotel. Upon finishing his education he was put in charge of the family workshop, repairing the hotel’s antique furniture. After gaining military honours in World War I, he returned to the family business and began making Arts & Crafts furniture for retail. After marrying in 1921 he began experimenting with modern styles – beginning with the marriage bed.
In 1923 Russell expanded the business and invested in modern machinery. His aim was to combine Arts and Crafts workmanship with mass-production to produce high quality furniture affordable to everyone. This ranged from homely dining tables to elaborate antique marquetry furniture , such as the 1925 print cabinet now residing in the Cheltenham Museum.
In 1929 he founded Gordon Russell Ltd, finding a market in America. The Depression caused a downturn, but he kept afloat designing and making Murphy radio cabinets. These antique cabinets are still popular auction pieces today.
In 1938 Russell set up the Good Furnishing Group, promoting the retailing of high-quality, mass produced furniture. During the war he spearheaded the government’s utility furniture scheme, and in the post-war years took posts leading to directorship of the Design Centre. He played a leading role in the Festival of Britain in 1951, and was knighted in1955. He retired to the Cotswolds in 1958, but remained closely connected with his company until his death.
Gordon Russell’s antique cabinets, desks and bookcases continue to be in demand today, evoking images of the very best in 18th century design – with a modern touch.
Romney Green was an English Arts & Crafts furniture designer; a contemporary of the Cotswold School, which flourished in the early 20th century and led to the Modernist movement. Green’s antique dining tables , chairs and cabinets are prized for their craftsmanship and elegant, simple lines. They can be found in many antique dealers specialising in Arts & Crafts furniture, adding the same touch of class to modern homes as they did those of the 1920s.
Romney Green was at the hub of the 20th century Arts and Crafts movement, helping to bring the Cotswold style to a wider audience. He began his furniture-making career in Haslemere, Surrey, in 1904, after visiting the workshops of Ernest Gimson at Sapperton and being inspired to create original designs in the same idiom.
He later moved to Christchurch, Hampshire, where he was joined by three other influential young designers – Eric Sharpe, Stanley W Davies and Robin Nance. Under his tutorship they went on to have successful careers of their own. Nance settled in St Ives, Cornwall, while Eric Sharpe opened a workshop in nearby Martyr Worthy. Stanley Davies was responsible for taking the Cotswolds movement to Cumbria.
Numerous links were forged between Green, Gimson and the Barnsley Brothers, which helped promote his work. Sidney Barnsley’s son, Edward Barnsley, set up a workshop in Froxfield, Hampshire, working with Oliver Morel, who had been greatly influenced by Romney Green, Eric Sharpe and Stanley Davies. In the 1960s Morel established the Eric Sharpe Resource Centre, which showcased the work of many of modern Arts & Crafts Furniture designers, notably Romney Green and his associates.
Green died in 1945, having led a varied and adventurous life. In an anthology of his poems he describes himself as:
“Craftsman-woodworker, boat-builder and sailor, mathematician, poet, chess-player, social reformer, rebel, friend and lover!”
Today, his antique cabinets, tables and dining chairs are found in antique dealers and museums across the British Isles. A particularly fine collection of his work is on display at the Red House Museum, Christchurch.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) was one of the most significant figures in the history of Arts & Crafts Furniture, and a major influence on the Art Nouveau movement. A talented architect, designer and artist, he was central to the development of the Glasgow Style of design. He had few clients, yet his distinctive stained glass panels elegant Victorian dining chairs are known the world over.
Mackintosh was apprenticed to architects Honeyman and Keppie in 1889, also studying at the Glasgow School of Art. His first major architectural commission was the Glasgow Herald Building (1894), which showed amazing innovation and maturity.
Antique bookcases and the Glasgow School
Mackintosh believed that designers and architects should have freedom of expression, and began experimenting with design, aided by his friends Herbert MacNair and Frances and Margaret Macdonald (who he later married). Dubbed the Spook School, they established the Glasgow Style.
In 1896 Mackintosh, was awarded a major commission to design a new wing for the Glasgow School of Art. Constructed in two stages, it was Mackintosh’s most important work, containing baronial Scottish, rustic Japanese and many other elements. The Library is a complex geometry of timber posts and beams, complemented by dark slender antique bookcases and elegantly pierced chairs.
The Victorian dining chairs of the Cranston tearooms
Mackintosh’s best-known works were for Catherine Cranston, who commissioned him for her tearooms between 1896 and 1917. He was allowed complete freedom of expression, providing everything from the light fittings to the cutlery. The dramatic high-backed Victorian dining chairs, so prized by Lancashire collectors, are still copied by designers today.
Another important commission was Hill House, for publisher Walter Blackie. However, Mackintosh had only a few patrons, his ethic of total design making him unpopular with clients. His last public commission was a Glasgow school, in 1906. Further work followed, but it was largely met with indifference.
Mackintosh moved to London, where he began working in a bold new abstract style. However, it largely went unnoticed. Today, of course, his genius is recognised, and in Cumbria his antique dining tables and elegant chairs sell for many thousands of pounds.
Charles Francis Annesley Voysey was born at Hessle, near Hull. His father was a vicar and they were soon moved to Healaugh, in Yorkshire. Voysey was one of six children and did not attend school for his first 14 years. In 1871 his father was expelled from the Church Of England for his unorthodox thinking, so Voysey was moved to the Dulwich College in South London. He disliked this and was soon removed to have private tuition. This upbringing may account for the apparently rather austere, uncompromising nature of a lofty man now celebrated as a major figure in the Arts & Crafts movement.
He was articled to J.P Seddon in 1874 staying there for five years, had a short spell with Saxon Snell and then two years with George Devey. He became an architect of domestic houses for the prosperous, completing some fifty or so by the time he retired. The houses are notable for end buttresses to the wall corners, deep eaves under flat cornices and leaded windows set tight under eaves and gables- not remote from his furniture.
His friend Mackmurdo probably introduced him to textile and wallpaper design. Voysey was sustained by designing in two dimensions, for which he had natural talent, although he was as equivocal about this as he was about furniture design saying “a wallpaper is only a background and were your furniture good in form or colour a very simple or undecorated treatment of the walls would be preferable……” This was a steady form of income for him and introduced him to people who bought him architectural commissions. His factory building at Chiswick, for Sandersons, is a case point.
Voysey’s early furniture included pieces like the gawky ‘swan’ chair of 1883-5 so called because of its back upright finials. This was exhibited in 1893 at the Arts & Crafts exhibition society. Voysey also worked with A.W Simpson of Kendal and designed a house for Simpson in 1909
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Wylie & Lochhead was a Scottish cabinetmaking firm who became famous for their high level of craftsmanship in their furniture, which followed the Glasgow School style of design. Admirers of Wylie & Lochhead Arts& Crafts furniture in Preston will find their antique cabinets, antique dining chairs and other furniture in high quality antique shops and showrooms. The designs are usually attributed to E.A Taylor – sometimes wrongly, as John Ednie designed for them too, though his work was often attributed to Taylor.
Wylie & Lochhead was formed by young cabinetmakers Robert Wylie and William Lochhead in 1829. They became highly successful, with a string of workshops, showrooms and warehouses in Glasgow employing over 1700 workers. By the 1900s they were a household name across Scotland, renowned for their artistic designs and high levels of craftsmanship.
Antique dining chairs by the finest craftsmen
With branches established in London and Manchester, the fame of Wylie & Lochhead spread. The popularity of designs by George Walton, and Rennie Mackintosh and his contemporaries at the Glasgow School, had a huge influence on the firm’s own designs. The success of Mackintosh’s famous Cranston tea rooms placed them under great pressure to satisfy demand for the Glasgow Style, but the size of the firm, and its marketing and manufacturing skills, made the style available to a huge market, both in the United Kingdom and abroad.
Wylie & Lochhead employed the best talent in the area, developing close links with the Glasgow colleges and keeping abreast with the latest designs. Their three main designers were E.A Taylor, John Ednie and George Logan. In 1902, their Arts & Crafts Furniture designs were considered of such high quality they were displayed at the Turin International Exhibition alongside those of Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Four.
Wylie & Lochhead often incorporated other designers’ styles into their antique dining chairs and antique cabinets. Preston buyers will see motifs and other design elements borrowed from, among others, Rennie Mackintosh and Baillie Scott – who also designed Arts & Crafts furniture for the company. In 1957, the company was purchased by House of Fraser.