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17 March to 24 July 2005


Museums, galleries and historic houses with arts and crafts movement collections and connections have joined together in a UK wide trail to celebrate the work of William Morris, his followers and the many other craftsmen and women inspired by the 19th century movement.

Cheltenham Museum and Art Gallery has taken the initiative of highlighting the treasures of the Arts and Crafts Movement around the country in the lead-up to the major, international Arts and Crafts Movement exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in the Spring of next year.

The trail is already available on Cheltenham’s dedicated Arts and Crafts website, and will be on the 24 Hour Museum website, this month. The 24 Hour Museum is UK’s national virtual museum with more than 240,000 virtual visitors a month from UK and overseas.

The trail is in five parts: Greater London, the South East; Cheltenham and the Cotswolds, the Midlands and Lake District; and Scotland. It is designed to work for individuals travelling by car, or public transport and for group organisers planning special interest tours by coach within the UK or from overseas. Some of the historic houses on the trail have restricted opening hours and all details should be checked before visiting – contacts available for each venue is on the website trail.

The V & A exhibition is also inspiring a series of special events and exhibitions on the arts and crafts movement theme. These will be listed as they become available on the arts and crafts museum website.

The London trail starts at the V & A which, apart from its special exhibition next year, has an important UK and international arts and crafts movement collection, and of course the wonderfully inspiring Morris Room or Green Dining Room. The trail follows William Morris who moved from Walthamstow (his birthplace) now the William Morris Gallery, and later to the Red House in Bexley, now restored by the National Trust, and then to Kelmscott House in Hammersmith. It also includes the Geffrye Museum which specialises in English domestic interiors.

Heading south out of London, the trail explores Little Holland House at Carlshalton, and then continues to the new Crafts Study Centre at Surrey Institute of Art and Design at Farnham. Standen, another National Trust property at East Grinstead, is a showpiece or arts and crafts architecture. The trail ends at Ditchling Museum where artists and craftspeople settled inspired by the Downland setting.

A third the trail leads from Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum with its definitive arts and crafts movement collection to a tour of the Cotswolds and the work of the many followers of Morris who settled in the area. Rodmarton Manor at Cirencester and Owlpen Manor at Dursley are privately-owned houses full of Arts and Crafts work. At Chipping Campden Hart’s Silversmiths is based in the workshops occupied by CR Ashbee’s Guild of Handicraft. David Hart is the third generation working in the Arts and Crafts tradition.

In the Midlands, the Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery houses an important arts and crafts movement collection; also featured is the newly restored Mackintosh house, 78 Derngate in Northampton, as well as Belgrave Hall Leicestershire and Wightwick Manor, Wolverhampton. Blackwell at Bowness on Windermere in the Lake District is a quintessential house of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Beautifully restored it also houses changing exhibitions on related themes. It provides a fitting conclusion to this part of the trail but could also work well as a starting point linking with the Scottish legacy.

In Scotland the Arts and Crafts Movement became synonymous with Charles Rennie Mackintosh and this part of the trail is almost exclusively devoted to the many venues in Glasgow where his work can be seen, from the Hill House to the Mackintosh House at the Hunterian Art Gallery, and from the Willow Tea Rooms to the Glasgow School of Art.


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