Urban Planner

Photograph of a street in Jerusalem. Illustration in Report by Mr. C.R. Ashbee on the Arts and Crafts of Jerusalem and District. [CRA/21/1, Arts and Crafts, p.44av]
Photograph of a street in Jerusalem. Illustration in Report by Mr. C.R. Ashbee on the Arts and Crafts of Jerusalem and District. [CRA/21/1, Arts and Crafts, p.44av]

After the 1909 ‘Housing, Town Planning, Etc., Act’, Ashbee was one of was one of sixty competitors who submitted plans for the development of the 6000 acre Ruislip Manor Estate. Whether he realised it or not, much of this estate had been owned by his former college, King’s. It is fitting that King’s College holds the only drawing of his scheme which is known to have survived, a birds-eye view. His submission was unsuccessful but this did not deter him from further town planning.

During the First World War, Ashbee lectured in America and then in early 1917, he went to Cairo to teach English. In December 1917, Ashbee’s book Where the Great City Stands was published. In this book, Ashbee discussed civic planning in the context of the destruction of war. The book resulted in him receiving a call from Ronald Storrs, a military governor, asking him to plan and repair the city of Jerusalem. This included reviving traditional crafts, so it suited Ashbee. After writing a long report, which connected the re-establishment of arts and crafts with town planning, he took up the post as a civic advisor in Jerusalem in 1919 and his family moved there. He resigned in March 1922.

After another lecture tour of America, C.R. Ashbee retired to Godden Green, Kent. It was there that he died, on 23 May 1942.