Wednesday, 8 May 2019

William Simmonds: The Silent Heart of the Arts and Crafts Movement


Dear Eton Wick Historians

A recently published book, William Simmonds: The Silent Heart of the Arts and Crafts Movement, Jessica Douglas-Home, Unicorn, 2018, £25, you may not have heard about. The book is a biography of William Simmonds, a ‘son’ of Eton Wick who became an artist, and then particularly a wood-carver, a maker of puppets and a puppeteer. As an adult he lived in London and in Oakridge in the Cotswolds.


The first paragraph from The Silent Heart of the Arts and Crafts Movement

His father, John Simmonds, was a builder who lived in a pub in Eton Wick, the Grapes Beer House, apparently originally kept by his father. John was working for Windsor Castle’s Office of Works when, in 1872, he was asked by the Castle’s architect to go to Turkey to help rebuild the British Embassy in Constantinople, which had burned down. In 1873 he was joined by his fiancĂ©e, Martha Walker. They married, and in 1876 William Simmonds was born. Also in 1876 the family returned to Britain. John first worked in Edinburgh, then in 1881 returned to Eton Wick. There are two houses in Alma Road that have names from Constantinople, Galate where John and Martha's daughter Annie was born and Pera, William's place of birth. 

By Robin Cave

Mr Cave is a nephew of Joan Ballhatchet.

The first few pages of William Simmonds: The Silent Heart of the Arts and Crafts Movement, Jessica Douglas-Home can be read on Amazon.


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