The interior of a historic Quaker house near Bournville has been fully restored – five years after a blue plaque was erected outside in honour of its first resident.
The work has been a labour of love with the finest Arts and Crafts traditions in mind.
But now we can reveal the first photographs of how 1020 Bristol Road looks today.
The five-bedroom family home called Sunnybrae was built at the turn of the 20th century by George Cadbury from a design by William Harvey – architect of the Bournville Village Trust Estate.
Its first resident was John Henry Barlow (1855-24) whose life was honoured in 2014 by The Birmingham Civic Society.
The citation on its blue plaque reads: ‘John Henry Barlow – Quaker statesman, peace ambassador and first Secretary of the Bournville Village Trust from 1900-1923.
‘In 1914, he helped set up the Friends’ Ambulance Unit. Lived here 1900-24′.
Inspired by the blue plaque, the restoration work has been masterminded by the home’s current owner, Gareth Fatchett, who moved in three years ago.
Arts and Crafts
Taking its name from the 1887 Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, the movement began in Britain around 1880, spread across American and Europe and later became the Mingei (Folk Crafts) movement in Japan.
An idealist reaction to post 1840s industrialisation and a perceived fall in standards, its emphasis on the need for traditional skills turned homes into works of art and established strong new principles for living and working reflected in materials and design principles today.
A unified approach among architects, painters, sculptors and designers led to the Arts and Crafts ideals reaching a wider public.
One of the key members of the Birmingham set was Edward Burne-Jones, whose Morris & Co windows at Birmingham Cathedral are world renowned.
While most of the Birmingham set had studied at King Edward’s School, they were joined by William Morris (1834-96) who had been born in Walthamstow.
He met Burne-Jones at Oxford and by the 1880s Morris was an internationally renowned and commercially successful designer and manufacturer.
Birmingham was a significant centre for the international Arts and Crafts movement tor two or three decades either side of 1900.
The focus of this period was the now Grade I listed Birmingham School of Art, the first Municipal School of Art.
It was completed in1885 after the death of the city’s greatest architect John Henry Chamberlain who had designed it in Ruskinian Venetian Gothic style.
Its features still include original stained glass windows, mosaic floors and hand-carved bannisters.
One of the school’s students was William Harvey, the future Bournville Village Trust Estate architect.
His grounding in the Arts and Crafts movement, combined with the ethos of the Cadbury family, is just one reason why the restoration of 1020 Bristol Road is important.
+ In 2015, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery held a four-month exhibition called Love Is Enough, in which Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller compared and contrasted his two greatest influences – William Morris and Andy Warhol.
A place in history
According to John Henry Barlow’s grandson, Antony Barlow, the home is ‘one of the best examples of the Arts & Craft movement’.
It is also the place where John’s son – Antony’s own father Ralph – was born in 1910.
John and later Ralph helped to lead the Bournville Village Trust, founded in 1900 to herald its transformation from building estate to complete village community where all house plans had to be approved by the principal architect, Alexander Harvey.
Bournville Village Council was established in 1903 and the estate today now comprises 1,000 acres of land with some 8,000 homes.
The Barlow’s Quaker family history dates back to the 1660s.
The family’s association with the Cadburys began when Antony’s grandfather married Mabel Cash, of the Coventry nametape weaving family, who was a first cousin to Dame Elizabeth Cadbury.
John and Mabel were invited to Birmingham to run the Bournville Village Trust in 1900, living first at the then Cadbury home, Woodbrooke – now the Quaker Study Centre.
The plaque’s reference to Barlow’s work as a peace ambassador reflects the role he played in helping to secure the so-called ‘conscience clause’ in the 1916 Military Service Act which enabled those of conscience to abstain from military service.
He also helped to found the Friends Ambulance Unit which was active in both World Wars.
Antony Barlow studied English and Drama at Manchester University, later becoming artistic director of the Richmond Theatre and then founding his own press and marketing consultancy for the arts, Tony Barlow Associates.
A self-penned book called ‘He is our cousin, Cousin: A Quaker Family’s History from 1660 to the Present Day’ ws published in paperback in 2015 and is available from the Quaker Bookshop here
What is a Quaker and Quakerism?
The Religious Society of Friends was founded in northern England in the middle of the 17th century by George Fox (1624 -1691).
The name ‘Quaker’, originally a term of ridicule, derived from a statement of Fox’s, when he told his followers ‘to tremble at the Word of the Lord’.
Fox believed that everyone could have a direct relationship with God without involving a priest or minister.
Quakers have played a significant role in such movements as the abolition of slavery, promoting education and equal rights for women.
They have also campaigned on behalf of gay rights and for the humane treatment of prisoners, famously through the work of the 19th century philanthropist Elizabeth Fry.
In 1947, the Quaker movement worldwide was awarded the Nobel Peace prize on account of the relief work they did in both World Wars particularly through the work of The Friends Ambulance Unit.
Arts and Crafts Trail
Although 1020 Bristol Road is not being opened up to the public, there are several places where you can learn more about Arts and Crafts in situ. They include:
Birmingham School of Art
Margaret Street, Birmingham B3 3BX
Tel 0121 331 5970
Wightwick Manor and Gardens
Wightwick Bank, Wolverhampton WV6 8EE
Tel 01902 76140
Winterbourne House and Botanic Garden
University of Birmingham, 58 Edgbaston Park Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2RT
Tel 0121 414 3832