Papers of the Red Rose Guild

Scope and Content

The Red Rose Guild material consists of Margaret Pilkington's personal copies of exhibition catalogues, copies of Crafts magazine and reports and histories of the Guild. This is not a complete collection and each series only contains items for a few years.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Red Rose Guild developed out of an exhibition held in 1920 at the Houldsworth Hall in Manchester, which was organized by Margaret Pilkington. She was a founder member of the Guild and its honorary secretary, becoming chairman in 1926. In 1924 she hung the exhibition of the Society of Wood Engravers for the Guild. Noel Rooke and Lucien Pissarro, who had taught Margaret Pilkington at the Central School, supported the Guild and contributed to its early exhibitions. Apart from a break during the Second World War, the Guild remained in existence until 1962. It officially began life in 1921 as The Red Rose Guild of Artworkers but was later to change its name to The Red Rose Guild of Designer Craftsmen to reflect its emphasis on craftwork. The symbol of the Guild, the red rose of Lancashire, reflected the Guild's origins in the North West, and its regional focus persisted despite the participation of craftspeople from across the country. The main activity of the Guild was to hold exhibitions although there was debate about whether a permanent outlet for displaying and selling craftwork would be preferable. Thanks to Margaret Pilkington's connections the exhibitions were held at the Whitworth Art Gallery from 1937 and in 1940 the Guild moved there. The exhibitions showcased the leading practitioners of craftwork and there was a strong ethos of promoting the importance of craftwork in modern society. She was a member of the selection committee for exhibitions and was active in debates concerning the quality of work in the exhibitions.


The material relating to the Red Rose Guild is arranged into three series:

  • PIL/2/1: Exhibition catalogues;
  • PIL/2/2: Reports and publications;
  • PIL/2/3: Crafts: The Quarterly of the Red Rose Guild.
Within each series items are arranged chronologically.

Separated Material

The Red Rose Guild Archive is held by the Crafts Study Centre, Surrey Institute of Art and Design.