Edward Barnsley CBE (1900-1987) was one of the most important British furniture makers of the twentieth century. He developed the Arts and Crafts traditions established in the Cotswolds by his father Sidney in the late nineteenth century. Edward created over seven thousand pieces of well-made furniture that he hoped would be pleasing to the eye and ‘give real joy in use.’
The Workshop is now managed by James Ryan, who started out as a Barnsley apprentice. James designs all the furniture. Most of our work is bespoke, designed to fulfil a particular brief and to work in a specific space. We have had many important commissions including the oak boards for the Domesday Book and pieces for the Palace of Westminster. We make a few pieces to display in our showroom, which is in the cottage next to the workshop. Images of work in stock are on this website.
The workshop team is made up of three experienced craftsmen and six apprentices. The Edward Barnsley Educational Trust has supported the training of workshop apprentices since 1980. Each September we engage two or three new apprentices.
If you are considering commissioning work from the Barnsley Workshop please contact James Ryan who will be happy to discuss your project without obligation.
The Barnsley Workshop is open to visitors Monday to Friday 8.30 to 4.00 and at other times by appointment
Designer – Manager
James Ryan designs all the furniture made in the Barnsley Workshop. He is in charge of day-to-day running and he liaises with clients when they commission a piece of furniture.
He joined the Barnsley Workshop as an apprentice in 1992. As part of his apprenticeship he spent six months studying at the Carl Malmsten School in Stockholm. After completing his apprenticeship he stayed on in the workshop as a craftsman. In 1997 James took responsibility for designing some of the furniture made in the workshop. James was guided by Jon Barnsley, who ran his own architecture practice and had taken over design duties from his father Edward. In 2001 James took over full responsibility for design. In 2003 he combined his design role with that of workshop manager.
He has received six Guild Mark awards from the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers for pieces he has designed for the Barnsley Workshop. He became a liveryman of the company and was invited to join the Bespoke Guild Mark award committee in 2008. He served as chairman of the committee from 2012 to 2015.
In addition to his role at the Barnsley Workshop James works as a free-lance designer having designed several successful ranges for ERCOL furniture. In 2008, 2009 and 2011 he organized the annual gathering of the DesignerMakers.org.uk forum members. Each was attended by more than a hundred furniture makers from around the country. He has been a visiting professional at the Rycotewood Furniture Centre. He regularly gives talks at Furniture colleges and other venues.
Simon joined the workshop in September 2017 having spent two years at the Rycotewood Furniture Centre, which is part of the City of Oxford College.
Ian joined the workshop in September 2016 having spent three years at Moulton College, Northampton.
Warren started with us in September 2016 and is from Hemel Hempstead.
Nathan joined us in September 2015. He had previously worked in a Scottish outdoor centre. Before starting his training with us Nathan was a self-taught furniture maker.
Joe joined the workshop as an apprentice in 2005.
Craftsman-Tutor and Fundraiser
Stephen started as an apprentice in the workshop in 1988
Robin joined the Edward Barnsley Educational Trust in 1999