Sidney Barnsley Collection

Scope and Content

The Crafts Study Centre has listed together in this collection small offerings of letters, photographs and publications relating to Sidney Barnsley and his work, collected together or preserved by admirers.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sidney Howard Barnsley, born on 25th February 1865 into a family of builders in Birmingham, studied at the Birmingham School of Art and at the Royal Academy's Architecture School (1885-1887). Simultaneously with his studies at the RA, he trained as an architect in Norman Shaw's London office.
After two years of travelling in Greece, recording Byzantine monuments under the auspices of the British School at Athens, he returned to London in November 1890 and joined the newly-established Kenton & Co., designing and making furniture with Ernest Gimson, W.R. Lethaby, Reginald Blomfield and Mervyn Macartney. Barnsley was Company Secretary.
The company closed in May 1892 and Barnsley moved to the Cotswolds in company with Ernest Gimson and his brother Ernest Barnsley. The three men were interested in the revival of rural life in general and of craftsmanship in particular, and they based themselves at Pinbury Park near Sapperton. Sidney Barnsley developed his woodworking skills, learning from the local wheelwright, Richard Harrison. He designed and built his own house in the village of Sapperton. He made furniture and woodwork in an outbuilding in his garden, generally to design drawings. He made everything by hand and from solid English timbers, employing decorative gouged carving and inlays of geometric design.
Barnsley was very friendly with Ernest Gimson, and married his cousin. The two men frequently talked over designs and inspired each other. From 1913 onwards Barnsley concentrated on architectural commissions, mainly extensions and additions to large Cotswold houses, and he rarely worked at the bench after 1923, having developed back pain. He provided capital for his son, Edward Barnsley, to take over Geoffrey Lupton's workshop at Froxfield, Hampshire.
After Gimson's death in August 1919, Barnsley oversaw the completion of outstanding work, including the library at Bedales School.
Sidney Barnsley died on 25th September 1925


SBC/1 Sketches of a sideboard design, 1908

Access Information

Archive material may be viewed by appointment only.


This entry was compiled in October 2021 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.


It is likely that further Barnsley-related material will be offered to the CSC. Material of interest will be added to this collection.