C.R. Ashbee

Photograph of C.R. Ashbee in Jerusalem, c.1919.  [CRA/1/44, f.356]
Photograph of C.R. Ashbee in Jerusalem, c.1919. [CRA/1/44, f.356]

Charles Robert Ashbee (known as C.R. Ashbee) came up to King’s College in 1883 to study the Historical Tripos. As a student, he developed an antiquarian interest in architecture. The friends he made at that time, as well as the books he read, had a profound influence in his subsequent career. In the title of his biography on Ashbee, Alan Crawford described him as an ‘Architect, Designer & Romantic Socialist’.

To understand Ashbee’s work, not least in establishing the Guild and School of Handicraft (sometimes known by variants of that name, such as the ‘School and Guild of Handicrafts’ or just the ‘Guild’), one must know the ideology underlying his achievements. These achievements were as much in social experiments as they were in architecture or handicraft. As such, we will start the exhibition with an exploration of that ideology.

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