Updated: Jun 16
For a small town in the Surrey Hills, Haslemere has a remarkable connection with one of the significant artistic and social movements of the latter part of the 19th century.
The Arts and Crafts Movement needs little introduction. It flourished in our cities, rejecting the industrialist approach to manufacture and promoting instead the ideals of good design and good living. William Morris, its famous figurehead, believed in the
importance of making beautiful, well-made objects for use in everyday life and was convinced that a better system of design and manufacture, with small-scale workshops, could actively change people’s lives for the better.
Godfrey Blount (1859-1937), an artist, designer and craftsman, was one of the many who were influenced by Morris’ strong moral principles. He and his wife Ethel moved to Haslemere in the 1890’s, no doubt persuaded by Ethel’s sister Maude and her husband Joseph King who were already living here. With impressive energy they set up the Haslemere Peasant Industries - a community of small workshops reviving craft traditions and producing a wide range of items designed and made by local people. The aim was ‘to restore true country life, its faith and its craft and to encourage a love and knowledge of traditional design and useful hand-work done under happy conditions’. The first weaving sheds were set up by the Kings where Maude trained local girls to spin and weave, producing linen, cotton and silk. The Blounts were close by at Tapestry House on Foundry Meadow (now Kings Road) with Godfrey producing designs for both ventures. Textiles dominated but ironwork, pottery, woodwork, fresco painting, hand -press printing, bookbinding and plasterwork made up an impressive production list across Haslemere’s new workshops and were soon selling in London as well as providing for the neighbourhood. Haslemere was a hive of creative industry and a thriving, busy place.
The legacy of arts and crafts in Haslemere is evident in design throughout the town today; lead work, iron drain covers and chimney stacks right through to the building of St. Christopher’s. We want to honour this shared cultural heritage in some way at HasleWorks. It seems apt for a venture set up by local people to enable others to work locally; it’s all about Haslemere. You may have noticed that our logo uses an arts and craft font in the bright fresh green of young hazel leaves -and a beautiful wall hanging designed by Godfrey Blount and made by Maude King’s team at the Haslemere Peasant Industries in 1896, has inspired the colour ways throughout our new space. The tapestry depicts a tree of life embroidered in linen in shades of green, coral and blue and it too has stood the test of time and is now in the archives of the V&A. https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O78766/hanging-blount-godfrey/
Blount believed in ‘the double pleasure of lovely surroundings and happy work’ for the people of Haslemere. It’s a good thought to hold onto as we look to the future.