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Charles R. Ashbee

Biographies
Charles R. Ashbee

*  1863 London
† 1942 Godden Green


Charles Robert Ashbee attended Wellington College and King's College, Cambridge, before serving an apprenticeship with the architect G.F. Bodley in Whitechapel, London. During his apprenticeship, Charles Robert Ashbee came into contact with John Ruskin's writings on reforming society and art and was also enthusiastic about Williams Morris's ideas and the fledgling Arts and Crafts movement in England. Charles R. Ashbee established courses in Whitechapel to revive crafts techniques and skills. From these courses grew the School of Handicraft (1887) and in 1888 Charles R. Ashbee founded the Guild of Handicraft. In 1890 the institution moved into Essex House in London. In 1898 Charles R. Ashbee founded the Essex House Press, where books were printed by hand. To realize the Arts and Crafts movement ideal of the workshop as a rural community, Charles R. Ashbee moved with the Guild from the East End of London to Chipping Campden in the country in 1902. Charles R. Ashbee's designs for silver and other metal objects, his exquisite belt buckles, jewelry, cutlery and tableware made him famous far beyond Britain and attracted the interest of the German and Austrian Jugendstil artists, for whom he became a source of inspiration. After William Morris, Charles R. Ashbee was a pivotal figure in the early Arts and Crafts movement. The Ashbee Guild of Handicraft was successful for a while but, since the art objects it produced were so costly, it received fewer commissions with time until it had to be disbanded in 1907. As an architect, Charles R. Ashbee is known for several buildings in Budapest, London and Sicily. In 1906 Charles R. Ashbee's "A Book of Cottages and Little Houses" and, in 1909, "Modern English Silverwork" were published at his Essex House Press.