Charles Ashbee & the Guild of Handicraft

This month we are celebrating the birthday of Charles Ashbee (1863-1942), multi-disciplinary designer and architect of the Art Nouveau movement.

Ashbee was a follower of John Ruskin and William Morris, and shared their socialist principles. He founded the Guild and School of Handicraft in 1888, which was a workers’ cooperative specialising in metalworking for jewellery and furniture. The artisans mainly used materials such as copper, iron, silver and enamel. The first establishment closed in 1895 and was later moved to Chipping Camden in Gloucestershire. However, despite the work now being highly sought-after, it was not a great commercial success at the time and the Guild was dissolved in 1907.

After the closure of the Guild, Ashbee focused on architecture and lived in Jerusalem for several years, planning a new layout for the city.

Charles Ashbee brooch

Image: Brooch c. 1902 by Ashbee, Gerhardt and Mark