Peter Collingwood archive

Scope and Content

The archive consists of

  • Correspondence, 1964-1975
  • Notes and manuscripts for published work by Peter Collingwood

Administrative / Biographical History

Peter Collingwood was born in London in 1922 . His father, who had been a professor of physiology at St Mary's Medical School, died when he was 12. Collingwood studied at Epsom College and then at St Mary's Hospital Medical School from 1942-1946 .

After qualifying in 1946  he went to work at Hertford County Hospital. His first career was as a doctor, specialising in surgery, where he first saw looms being used in the occupational therapy department. He was called up for National Service; after the war he went to Jordan for nine months with the Red Cross to treat Arab refugees from Palestine. During this time he saw people weaving for a living and began to collect textiles. Shortly after this, he visited Ditchling and in 1950  started to work with Ethel Mairet, then in her seventies, at Gospels. After six months, he moved onto the workshop of Barbara Sawyer in London. Collingwood and Sawyer worked together for about six months making floor rugs for the new schools in Hertfordshire, as well as tablemats using a variety of materials. He left to go onto Alistair Morton's Lakeland design workshop in 1952 .

After this intense training he moved back to set up his mother's house in Swiss Cottage, London and set up his first workshop in Archway, making Huxley Check rugs which he began to sell through Liberty's and Heals. He joined societies such as the Red Rose Guild and the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society. In 1957  the V & A bought two of his rugs from the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society's exhibition there. During his time in Archway he established himself as a rug weaver, although he also began to make knotted rugs too. He also wrote regularly for the Journal of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, becoming a member of the editorial team in 1954 , a role he continued for over twenty years.

In 1958  he moved to Digswell House, Welwyn, Hertfordshire run by the Digswell Arts Trust to become one of their first craftsmen-in-residence, alongside Hans Coper and others. A visit by Harriet Tidball, the American writer on weaving led to invitations to run workshops and lecture in the USA. In 1964  he moved to Nayland, Suffolk (near Colchester) to a redundant school which he and his wife converted into a home and workshop. There he began to research a book on rug weaving and develop new techniques; mainly shaft-switching used for rugs and macrogauze for hangings. He continued to produce rugs and hangings, occasionally with the help of an assistant.

He taught regularly from 1954  onwards in London art schools. His numerous major commissions include a hanging for the Director's Office, Shell Centre, London in 1962 ; and a 3-dimensional macrogauze for the public library in Welwyn Garden City in 1973 . From 1964  onwards Collingwood exhibited widely in the UK, USA, Norway, Denmark, Australia and Japan, including a two-man exhibition with the potter Hans Coper at the V & A Museum in 1969 , in the Crafts Council Gallery with Ruth Harris in 1981  and at Firstsite, Colchester in 1998 .

He wrote The Techniques of Rug Weaving, 1968 ; The Techniques of Sprang, 1974 ; The Techniques of Tablet Weaving, 1982  and Textile and Weaving Structures, 1987  (reprinted in 1988 ).

In 1963  Collingwood was awarded the Gold Medal in the Munich International Handicrafts Exhibition and in 1974  the OBE. In 1974  he was awarded a bursary from the Crafts Council to research tablet weaving. In 1989  he was awarded the Annual Medal by the Worshipful Company of Weavers and in 1994  the Annual Medal by the Society of Designer Craftsmen.


The archive material is arranged in the original order in which it was deposited at the CSC in 1984.

Access Information

The archival material may be viewed by appointment only.


This entry was compiled by Becky Lyle, Submissions Officer for the project and by Jean Vacher, Collections Manager at the Crafts Study Centre. The biography was written by Frances Lord.

Other Finding Aids

There are no finding aids available for this archive.

Conditions Governing Use

The photocopying of archival material is not allowed. Written permission must be sought before any archival material is published.

Appraisal Information

None timetabled


None expected

Related Material

The Crafts Study Centre holds other material relating to the Peter Collingwood archive in the

  • Ethel Mariet archive
  • Ethel Mariet textile archive
  • Ethel Mariet sample books
  • Red Rose Guild archive

Also see access points


Peter Collingwood Crafts Council Gallery, London, 1981

Peter Collingwood, Master Weaver Firstsite, 1998

Geographical Names