Creating the Museum

Creating the museum

The Guild of Handicraft Trust was registered in 1990 to collect and care for the work of artists, architects, designers and craftspeople working in the north Cotswolds since 1900; to foster the appreciation of these people and their work; and to encourage craft and design work of good quality in the present day. The Trust created Court Barn in 2006-2007 with generous financial help from the Heritage Lottery Fund and private donations.


  • The Heritage Lottery Fund
  • The American Friends of Arts & Crafts in Chipping Campden 
  • The Family and descendents of C. R. Ashbee


Court Barn is an independent Museum and relies on income from admissions, shop sales and donations. We receive no regular funding from local or national government.

Court Barn is a Grade II listed building sited in an outstanding Conservation Area and adjoins the site of a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Converting it to a Museum, exhibition space and archive for the Guild of Handicraft Trust was a major conservation challenge made possible by a Heritage Lottery Grant and donations.

Reg Ellis Associates were commissioned to design and oversee the repair and alterations, which were carried out by local builders, Pyments.

The challenge was to retain the character of what was a derelict building and to protect the tranquility of its setting and the spaciousness of the interior.

It was clear that, as it stood, the barn itself would not provide enough accommodation for the Museum’s purposes. But there had been an earlier threshing floor in the building, creating a kind of mezzanine over the west wing. This was reinstated, and extended in the form of a new self-supporting gallery, to provide office space and archive storage. The new mezzanine is constructed of English ash attached to the floor with stainless steel footings. Like all new work in Court Barn it is reversible, so that if the barn should pass into other uses it can be removed, leaving the original structure intact.

Underfloor heating was installed and the roof was insulated and underlined with lime plaster. Glazed screens were inserted behind the original barn doors and the lighting was carefully designed by Lightmaster to provide a controlled environment for the exhibition space designed by Gareth Hoskins Associates.

After 12 years of operation and experience a Refresh project was launched receiving support from the National Heritage Lottery Fund and other contributions, large and small. New graphics, interactives and a children’s area were installed.

The work has been carried out by Design Storey, Architects, with the build work by Pyments of Campden Ltd.

Museum building

Image gallery