Sapperton

By 1900 the craft community was expanding. Gimson married Emily Thompson and Edward, the second of Sidney and Lucy Barnsley’s children, was born that year.

The cottage in Sapperton

The cottage in Sapperton

Daneway showroom

Daneway showroom

Gimson and Ernest Barnsley set up the second workshop with trained cabinet makers in Cirencester because of lack of space at Pinbury. The restoration work carried out by Ernest Barnsley largely paid for by the three men was much appreciated by their landlord, Earl Bathurst. He was newly married and Pinbury seemed to offer an ideal country home for his young family.

Ernest Barnsley negotiated an arrangement with the Bathurst estate whereby the three men gave up the lease to Pinbury in return for land in the village of Sapperton and the use of Daneway House nearby as workshops and showrooms. Each man built his own house at Sapperton with money from the Bathurst estate. They were part of the estate and Gimson and the Barnsleys paid rent for the accommodation. The workshop at Daneway was set up in 1902 but Gimson’s cottage at Sapperton wasn’t completed until 1903. They moved out of Pinbury into lodgings in the nearby village of Frampton Mansell in June 1903 and managed to move their belongings into the new cottage on 2 July:

‘…on the hottest and loveliest day of the Summer - and we had a cool saunter through woods & hay fields to our lodgings in the evening seeing the sun set over Oakridge on the way.’

The cottage named The Leasowes was built of local limestone with a thick thatched roof. Because thatch was not common in the south Cotswolds, Gimson employed a craftsman from Oxfordshire, John Durham, to carry out the work. The thatch was destroyed by a fire bomb in 1941 during the Second World War and replaced by stone tiles.

Sapperton cottage garden view

Sapperton cottage garden view

Life at Sapperton

Much of Gimson’s working life at Sapperton was spent in his drawing office. It was in a two-storey outbuilding in the garden of his house, above an open shed where he did his plasterwork. According to Norman Jewson, Gimson enjoyed the break from routine which an afternoon in the plaster shed provided. He would spend about two mornings a week in the furniture workshops at Daneway; on other mornings he would call in at the smithy at Sapperton and the chair-making workshop at the Daneway sawmill. He made regular visits to Sidney Barnsley, his nearest neighbour and closest friend, to discuss ideas and work in progress. He would also have had to make time to meet clients, supervise architectural work and other projects on site, and provide reports and case notes for the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.

His social life revolved around the local community. Norman Jewson recalled Gimson’s love of good music, singing and country dancing. There was a constant stream of visitors, particularly old friends and architectural colleagues from London such as Robert Weir Schultz, Francis Troup, Emery Walker and Sidney Cockerell. Cecil Sharp and Arnold Dolmetch, both part of the folk song revival in the early 20th century, visited regularly. Alfred Powell, who first came to the Cotswolds in 1901 to convalesce with the Gimsons, settled locally in about 1903 with his wife Louise and became an important part of their circle. Fred Griggs, one of his closest friends towards the end of his life, recalled that Gimson and his wife, ‘taught Sapperton to enjoy itself.’

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The Cotswold Tradition