The papers of Alan Peters

Scope and Content

Alan Peters kept comprehensive records of his work. The archive is very rich in correspondence with clients, including design drawings, 1959-2009, and there is documentation of, and memorabilia from, his research visits to the Far East in 1975 and 1980, exhibitions of and including his work, 1965-2005, his teaching, 1960-2009, including visits to Australia, New Zealand, North America and Scandinavia, and his research into the history of the 'Cotswold School' of furniture makers, including a thesis. There is also memorabilia of his youth, including 2 school reports and 20 certificates for cycling; correspondence about employment, 1948-1961, including references; correspondence with Edward Barnsley 1959-1981; material gathered by AP relating to Edward Barnsley and the Froxfield Workshops, including material about the Arts and Crafts buildings by Geoffrey Lupton at Bedales School and two pastel drawings by AP; engagement diaries for almost every year, 1971-2004, some including details of diet and medication as AP had to control diabetes; records of the purchase of Maddocks Farm at Kentisbeare in Devon, where AP established Aller Studio in 1973, and of improvements to the premises, 1973-2002; files on employees, 1972-2005; drafts of writings, 1970-1997, and copies of published articles and book reviews, 1971-1990; illustrations and proofs for 'Cabinetmaking: the Professional Approach' [1985], and correspondence with publishers; a little correspondence with, and information about, other craftsmen, 1978-2008; correspondence and other records of his involvement with various Guilds and Societies, including the Devon Guild of Craftsmen, 1986-2009, and with museums and other public bodies, including the Crafts Council, 1973-2009; files on honours and awards, including letters of congratulation on the award of the O.B.E., 1990; and numerous photographs.

Administrative / Biographical History

The son of a precision engineer, Alan George Peters was born in Petersfield, Hampshire, on 17 January 1933. He was apprenticed to Edward Barnsley in 1949, and stayed at the workshop at Froxfield in Hampshire, until 1954. After 2 years of National Service in the R.A.F., he returned to the Barnsley workshop, then in 1957-1959 he undertook a craft teacher-training course at Shoreditch College. In 1959 he toured Scandinavia before spending a year studying interior design on a scholarship at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London.

In 1962 he married Laura Robinson, who played an important part in his subsequent career, offering unfailing support. He set up his first workshop in Headley Down, Hampshire, and shortly afterwards moved to Grayshott near Hindhead. His early work was innovative in using mixed woods and metal for inlay. His move in 1973 to Kentisbeare, Devon, where he took on apprentices, heralded his major works. These continued his love affair with native woods such as Devon walnut, which he was able to buy in whole trees, allowing him to match the grain for the front and back legs of chairs. Early apprentices were Keith Newton and Stephen Hopper, and he provided work experience opportunities for many students, including Jane Cleal, Colin Freeman, Robin Furlong, Michael Fortune from Canada, Roger Holmes and Peter Kuh from the USA, Jurgen Kramer from Germany, Samir Saba from Sweden and Sean Treacy from Ireland.

A Crafts Council bursary enabled him to travel to Japan in 1975, where he absorbed the simple forms of Japanese vernacular architecture and furniture. This reinforced his background in the Arts and Crafts Movement and further inspired him to explore the intrinsic beauty of the material. There was an equally fruitful trip in 1980 to South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, and in 1984 he spent 10 weeks in Hawaii, New Zealand and Australia, returning via Malaya.

He taught in schools and in adult education, then taught part-time for 4 years, 1964-1968, at Portsmouth College of Art & Design. He was visiting lecturer at John Makepeace School for Craftsmen in Wood at Parnham House, Beaminster, Dorset, 1978-1988, and from 1982 was College Assessor for the Licentiate scheme of the Society of Designer Craftsmen. He lectured often in the U.S.A. and Canada, and in 1984 he undertook a 6-week tour in New Zealand, giving lectures and running workshops. From 1989 to 1994 he was visiting lecturer at Letterfrack College, Co Galway, Ireland.

His book Cabinetmaking - the professional approach (1985) became a classic work of reference; he also revised, for its fourth edition, Ernest Joyce's Technique of Furniture Making .

He travelled the country as an ambassador and pioneer of the craft, undertaking assessment at colleges and judging at competitions. He was appointed OBE in 1990. Among many other honours, he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Designer Craftsmen in 1968, and the society presented him with its Centennial Medal in 1988. In 2002 he received the Award of Distinction from the American Furniture Society. He acted as Advisor to the Crafts Study Centre's Acquisitions Committee in the 1980s and from 1989 to 1999 served as one of the Centre's trustees.

At the end of 2002 he relocated to Minehead in Somerset, but work on setting up in a new workshop was impeded by the onset of vascular dementia. He no longer made furniture, and could hardly even work on converting the workshop premises to be a showroom. He took up residence in a care home in 2007, where he died on 11 October 2009.


  • AGP/1 Personal
  • AGP/2 Edward Barnsley and the Barnsley Educational Trust
  • AGP/3 Address book and Diaries
  • AGP/4 Premises and Employees
  • AGP/5 Job records
  • AGP/6 Accounts and receipts
  • AGP/7 Invoices
  • AGP/8 Materials and services
  • AGP/9 Publicity
  • AGP/10 Exhibitions
  • AGP/11 Commissions and other sales
  • AGP/12 Research trips
  • AGP/13 Contact with other craftsmen
  • AGP/14 Teaching, lecturing and judging
  • AGP/15 Writings
  • AGP/16 Research on the Cotswold School of Furniture Making
  • AGP/17 Guilds and Societies
  • AGP/18 Museums and Public Bodies
  • AGP/19 Awards and Recognition
  • AGP/20 Photographs

Access Information

Archive material may be viewed by appointment only.


This entry was compiled in April 2020 by Shirley Dixon, Crafts Study Centre Archivist.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogue on Crafts Study Centre database. A pdf copy is available on request.

Conditions Governing Use

Written permission must be sought before any archival material is published.

Appraisal Information

None timetabled.


None expected.


Peters, Alan. 1985. Cabinetmaking: the Professional Approach .