Norman Jewson

Norman Jewson (1884-1975) was an architect of the Edwardian era, one of a group of architects who made their homes in the Cotswold village of Sapperton. (The original three architects of the 'Sapperton Group' were Ernest Barnsley, his brother Sidney Barnsley, and Ernest Gimson, and these three together led the Cotswold Arts and Crafts movement, carrying on the ideals of William Morris). Jewson came from a family of established timber merchants in Norwich, and after studying at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, took articles with the architectural practice of Herbert Ibberson in London. Ibberson had worked in the same office as Ernest Gimson, Ernest Barnsley and Alfred Powell under J.D. Sedding.

 

Jewson was an accomplished watercolourist, and after finishing his apprenticeship in 1907, he set out in a donkey and trap on a sketching tour of the Cotswolds 'a part of the country little known at that time', as he later described in his classic autobiographical reminiscences, By Chance I did Rove. Ibberson had recommended Jewson to visit Ernest Gimson at his Sapperton studio, and Gimson took him on as an 'improver'. As part of his training under Gimson, Jewson was encouraged to draw a different wild flower every day from nature, adapting it to a formal pattern suitable for plasterwork, wood carving or needlework.

 

In 1911 Jewson married Ernest Barnsley's daughter, Mary, and converted for himself a group of cottages at Bachelor's Court in Sapperton. Jewson set up in practice on his own in 1919, and soon gained a reputation for the sympathetic conservation and adaptation of old buildings. He was a dedicated member of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, founded by William Morris and wanted his buildings to have the basic qualities of the best old houses of their locality, built in the traditional way in the local materials.The Edwardian era, looking back, has assumed the character of a belle époque, a summer of golden afternoons in the years between the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, and the outbreak of the First World War. It is associated in garden terms with the country house, surrounded by architectural topiary, terraces and steps. Jewson travelled whenever he could in Italy, making sketches of architectural details, and is associated with the Classical revival fashionable at the beginning of the twentieth century.

 

Garden architecture was a defining characteristic of Edwardian gardens, as Arts and Crafts architects turned their back on landscape gardens in favour of a revival of the old formal style.The scale and intimacy of the old English manor gardens of the Tudor period, with walled areas around the house, were used again in the Edwardian period. Jewson's buildings worked in a vernacular classicism with characteristically fine plasterwork detail. His work included fine metalwork and gates and detailed architectural leadwork and woodcarving. He also designed and made furniture, turning his hand to many crafts, and believed in using traditional materials, sourced locally. As he said, 'I hoped that my buildings would at least have good manners and be able to take their natural place in their surroundings without offence'.

 

He became established as a well-known 'gentleman's architect' in the Cotswolds between the wars, working on a number of distinguished Cotswold manor houses and farmhouses. His most extensive hillside garden is at Cotswold Farm, Gloucestershire.He wrote A Little book of Architecture (1940), a beginner's guide to English architectural styles. He did little professional work after 1940, being increasingly at odds with post-war styles, a firm believer that traditional things, long tried and tested, should not be indiscriminately cast aside.

 

Jewson's Work includes:

The Lindens, NorwichLane End, Kilve, in the Quantocks, Somerset: a summerhouse

The Garden House, Westonbirt, Gloucestershire

Rodmarton Manor, Gloucestershire: the chapel (after the death of Ernest Barnsley)

Owlpen Manor, Gloucestershire

Campden House, Chipping Camden, Gloucestershire

Charlton Abbots, Gloucestershire

Cotswold Farm, Gloucestershire

Doughton Manor, Gloucestershire

Eycot House, Gloucestershire

Glenfall House, Gloucestershire

Little Walford Manor, Warwickshire

Southrop Manor, Gloucestershire

Througham Court, Gloucestershire

Througham Slad, Gloucestershire

Repairs to old buildings and churches include:

Salle, NorfolkThe Priest's House, Muchelney, Somerset

Chalford, near Stroud, Gloucestershire


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