COURT BARN MUSEUM -Press Release
Exhibition: Essex House Press types: C R Ashbee and his circle
Friday 21 March to Sunday 8 June
C R Ashbee, one of the most important figures in the Arts & Crafts movement, set up the Essex House Press
in London in 1898. The press, one of the best known of the private presses that flourished in England
around 1900, moved with Ashbee’s Guild of Handicraft to Chipping Campden in 1902. This move from
London’s East End to the Cotswolds is one of the most romantic and well-known stories of the Arts and
The 90 or so books published by the Essex House Press clearly reflect
Ashbee’s interests and friendships. This exhibition, the second major show
from the collection since it was acquired in 2009, will concentrate on
this aspect of the Press.
Ashbee saw his work as a direct descent from the writings and example of
John Ruskin and William Morris. Many of the books, such as An
Endeavour towards the Teaching of John
Ruskin and William Morris, emphasise this
link. Ashbee was first introduced to the
work of John Ruskin while a student at Cambridge University. His circle of
friends at Cambridge remained close; many supported his work and their
interests and researches were reflected in the output of the press. Also on
display will be books illustrating his range of interests and his new
friendships following the move to Chipping Campden. These included
Archie Ramage, a young Glaswegian who worked as a compositor for the
Essex House Press, and Ananda Coomaraswamy, the Anglo-Sinhalese scholar
who settled in Campden in 1907 with his wife, Edith.
Ashbee was also a great patriot and supporter of English traditions. He published many books illustrating
the highlights, as he saw them, of British literature and poetry, and promoting the established Church.
One of the most visually interesting books in the exhibition is
The Masque of the Edwards of England, published in 1902.
It tells the story of those English kings named Edward and
was published to coincide with the coronation of Edward VII
and includes many double-page illustrations by Edith
The exhibition is sponsored by Cutts of Campden
Court Barn, Chipping Campden has the most extensive collection of Essex House Press books in the world.
It is also an important collection because the books belonged to Ashbee himself; many of them are signed
and annotated by him.
For information please contact Carole Reynolds, Administrator:
T: 01386 841951.
Notes to editors:
1. How to find us:
Court Barn, Church Street, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, GL55 6JE
Adults £4; Concessions (students, senior citizens) £3.25; Children under 16 are free
Opening times: April - September: Tuesday – Sunday 10.00 – 5pm
October - March: Tuesday – Sunday 10.00 – 4pm
Closed Mondays (except Bank Holidays).
2. About Court Barn
Court Barn is an award winning independent museum and the brainchild of a group of local
enthusiasts called the Guild of Handicraft Trust. The museum was created through the generous
support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and monies raised by the Guild of Handicraft Trust.
This groundbreaking museum, situated in the Cotswold town of Chipping Campden, tells the story
of how a small town, in a beautiful setting, became a gathering place for creative people at the start
of the 20th Century and continues to attract designers and makers today. Highlights include work
by C.R. Ashbee, F.L Griggs and Katharine Adams.