CHARLES ROBERT ASHBEE was born on this date. Ashbee was a designer and entrepreneur who was a prime mover of the English Arts and Crafts movement that took its craft ethic from the works of John Ruskin and its co-operative structure from the socialism of William Morris. He was the son of businessman and erotic bibliophile Henry Spencer Ashbee. He received his education at Wellington College.
After reading history at King’s College, Cambridge from 1883 to 1886, and studying under the architect George Frederick Bodley, Ashbee set up his Guild and School of Handicraft in 1888, while a resident at Toynbee Hall, a settlement in Whitechapel, London. The fledgling venture was first housed in temporary space but by 1890 had workshops at Essex House, Mile End Road, in the East End, with a retail outlet in the heart of the West End in fashionable Brook Street, Mayfair, more accessible to the Guild’s patrons.
In 1902 the works moved to Chipping Campden, in the picturesque Cotswolds of Gloucestershire, where a sympathetic community provided local patrons, but where the market for craftsman-designed furniture and metalwork was saturated by 1905.