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William Simmonds: The Silent Heart of the Arts and Crafts movement

Sat 27 April - Sun 21 July

Exhibition sponsored by Mallams 

The sculptor, carver and puppet master William Simmonds (1876-1968) was central to the revival of the Arts and Crafts movement in Gloucestershire after World War I. He spent the final 50 years of his life in the Cotswolds, first at The Frith, Far Oakridge and then at Oakridge Lynch. Some of his finest works are his carvings of animals, often studied and sketched for hours in the wild. 

He trained as a painter at the Royal Academy Schools in London before joining the American artist Edwin Austen Abbey as an assistant from 1904, working on vast historical canvases and a series of lunettes intended for the Pennsylvania Government buildings in America.


William met the art student Eve Peart, at a dance in 1911 and they married a year later, living on a shoestring near Eve’s family in Fovant, Wiltshire. Simmonds’s love of the countryside and folk music was complemented by Eve’s delight in wild flowers and plants and her musical talents. The couple moved to London during World War I while William worked first on tank development with Colonel Crompton and then on aircraft design with Geoffrey de Havilland – it was a stressful time with bombings and extreme shortages. The end of the war left him with a feeling of sadness and loss and the couple decided to leave London. William had loved the Cotswolds from his time with Abbey but there were also friends there: Alfred and Louise Powell, Ernest Gimson and Sidney Barnsley as well as the artists Charles Gere and William Rothenstein.



Simmonds produced a few carvings for sale every year – they were sought after by collectors and highly prized. His larger work was compared to that of Eric Gill and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska; the poetic delicacy of the smaller items suggested an original response to Japanese netsuke. He also loved to produce pieces as gifts, particularly for his great friend and patron Violet Gordon Woodhouse, the musician who created an artistic circle at her Gloucestershire home, Nether Lypiatt Manor.

Simmonds – the most British of British artists – is one of the great forgotten originals of the Arts and Crafts movement, its silent heart.




Tuesday 7 May. 3.30pm SOLD OUT

Talk by Jessica Douglas-Home - William Simmonds: The Silent Heart of the Arts and Crafts Movement

Jessica Douglas-Home demonstrates how William Simmonds, educational innovator, inventor, and tank designer, inspired by his pastoral surroundings in the Cotswolds, became an original of the Arts and Crafts movement, and after WW1 became known for his exquisite oak, pine, ebony and ivory carvings of wild and domestic creatures. He earned his living by making puppets.


Court Room Old Police Station £7. This event is part of the Chipping Campden Literature Festival. For more information and to book tickets visit www.campdenlitfest.co.uk


Thursday 13 June 2019 11:00-13:00

A short illustrated talk on a few of Mallams’ recent highlight lots followed by an opportunity to have any items valued by Louise Dennis FGA DGA (Jewellery specialist), Robin Fisher (Eastern and Oriental Art) and Max Fisher (Design and Modern and Post-War British Art ).

Free with admission ticket


Saturday 22 June. 11.30

One-on-One by Mary Greensted on the Young Zebra, Simmonds final animal piece

Free with admission ticket


Saturday 6 July

Demonstration by Fiona Valentine, wood carver 

Free with admission ticket

Note: Unless stated otherwise, all events in the programme are held at Court Barn. Details of events listed may change, please therefore check with the Museum for up to date information.