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  • Two Women Sitting in a Garden (Brick House, Great Bardfield), Eric Ravilious, 1932

    © The Fry Art Gallery

  • Braintree Station, Edward Bawden, 1960.

    Courtesy of The Bawden Estate via The Higgins Bedford Art Gallery & Museum.

  • Town Hall Yard, Edward Bawden, 1956.

    Courtesy of The Bawden Estate via The Higgins Bedford Art Gallery & Museum.

  • Observer's Post, Eric Ravilious, c1939.

    Courtesy of the Trustees of the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery Bedford.

  • Brick House, Great Bardfield

    © Isabel Sudbury

  • Houses at Silver End

Fitness / Practicalities
Tour Director

  • Discover the Great Bardfield artists and the environments in which they lived and worked

  • Enjoy a special visit to the Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden, home of the North West Essex Collection of Great Bardfield works

  • Gain an in-depth understanding of mid-century art and design during visits across East Anglia, from a base in the historical city of Cambridge

“Excellent in all ways: Alan’s personal acquaintance with artists, residents and lecturers added a great deal to the programme… Truly unique access, not obtainable elsewhere”

“A very well constructed, informative and enjoyable experience”

- ACE customers on the 2024 Great Bardfield & Beyond: Mid-Century Art & Design in East Anglia tour led by Alan Powers

From 1930 to the early 1970s, the Essex village of Great Bardfield was home to a number of artists whose output has received growing recognition in recent years – most notably Eric Ravilious and Edward Bawden. Their work spanned painting, illustration and design, and they used traditional imagery and techniques with a modern inflexion.


The artists’ homes and gardens and the nearby scenery often served as the subject matter for their works, and the details of their lives and connections have come close to displacing the Bloomsbury Group as a subject of curiosity.


This tour adopts Cambridge as a base for exploring the sites, collections and private houses associated with the Great Bardfield artists, their contacts, and the parallel movements of their time.


A highlight of our tour will be a visit to Saffron Walden’s Fry Art Gallery, which has done more than any other institution to showcase this network of artists, to explore their displays and view unique scrapbooks by Ravilious and Bawden. We will also enjoy a walking tour of Great Bardfield in the company of artist Chloë Cheese, who grew up in the village and remembers visiting the studios of Bawden and printmaker Michael Rothenstein.


Our tour continues with a visit to Silver End, the garden village built between the wars, partly in a Modern style, by the Crittal family who were supporters of the Great Bardfield movement. We also look forward to taking in the principal collection of Bawden’s graphic work at The Higgins Bedford.


An excursion to Braintree will offer an opportunity to visit the Town Hall, Braintree Museum and Howard Hall Masonic Centre, where we will enjoy a special guest lecture from Mary Schoeser, a leading authority in the field of textiles, in the building’s Art Deco surroundings. Mary is Honorary President of the UK Textile Society, and will bring a selection of textile samples to illustrate her lecture.


Hidden treasures across the county of Cambridgeshire include The Manor in the delightful village of Hemingford Grey, former home of Lucy Boston and the inspiration for her Green Knowe stories. The Grade I listed Impington Village College, meanwhile, dates from the late 1930s, and is a building of great architectural importance. It was designed by Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus School, and his partner Maxwell Fry; and is one of only five examples of Gropius’s work in the UK.


Visits in the city of Cambridge itself will include the Prints and Drawings Room at the Fitzwilliam Museum, where we will see archival items by the likes of Cotman, Towne, Palmer and Lear as well as pieces by Bawden, Ravilious and others whom they inspired. We also look forward to a visit to the Centre for Children’s Book Studies at Anglia Ruskin University, for a special archival session.


We will stay at the four-star University Arms Hotel, an elegant hotel conveniently located in the heart of the city. 


This tour will be led by Alan Powers, PhD. Alan studied at the University of Cambridge and is one of the UK’s leading architectural historians. A former Chairman of the 20th Century Society, he has published widely on all aspects of 20th century architecture and design. He was Professor at the University of Greenwich School, and has lectured at New York University in London. His publications include Modern: The Modern Movement in Britain and Bauhaus Goes West.

Tour Code

Included: accommodation based on sharing a classic twin or double bedded room, four breakfasts, one lunch, three dinners with water & coffee, excursions & admissions, gratuities & all taxes.

Not Included: travel insurance, cosy double room for single use supplement £395.

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