Hugh Birkett (Ex-Oliver Morel) Arts & Crafts Cotswold School English Yew Bureau


An Arts & Crafts Cotswold School English Yew bureau by Hugh Birkett (ex-Oliver Morel who trained with Edward Barnsley at his famous workshop at Froxfield) made in 1986. A quite exceptional item with exquisite attention to detail, made in every way to the standard you would expect of this leading Cotswold School maker. A very well proportioned and attractive design, providing the perfect compact work area and storage. Made to a special commission for Geoffrey H. Alpe (1908-2008), former Managing Director of Parker Knoll, featuring:

  • Made in Solid English Yew
  • Gimson style hayrake stretcher
  • Three lower drawers (made with solid drawer carcasses joined with hand-cut lap and through dovetails and solid bases)
  • Handmade shaped handles
  • Upper area enclosed with a fall front containing 6 drawers, three vertical pigeon holes, three horizontal pigeon holes, two lockable central drawers and a secret compartment
  • Leather writing pad on the inside of the fall front

Approximate dimensions:

  • overall height 120 cm (3 feet 11 and a quarter inches)
  • overall width 87 cm (2 feet 10 inches)
  • overall depth closed 44 cm (1 foot 5 and a quarter inches)
  • overall depth open 88 cm (2 feet 10 and three quarters inches)
If you need a very exact dimension, or one we haven't included, feel free to contact us and we will measure it for you


Made to a special commission for Geoffrey H. Alpe (1908-2008), former Managing Director of Parker Knoll. Signed and dated on the stretcher

Very good original condition with tight joints, smoothly sliding and snugly fitting drawers, snugly fitting doors and fall front. A few minor knocks and surface scratches and marks visible on close inspection. If you wish to have further specific photographs or talk to us for a more detailed condition report then please do not hesitate to contact us

Hugh Birkett (Ex-Oliver Morel Who Trained with Edward Barnsley at His Famous Workshop at Froxfield) (1919 to 2002): A very highly respected furniture maker and master craftsman who was heavily influenced by the work of Ernest Gimson, Romney Green and Edward Barnsley. He trained with one of the foremost former Edward Barnsley craftsmen, Oliver Morel before he established his own workshop in 1949 in Solihull and then in 1966 moved to Moreton-in-Marsh in. He made exceptional quality furniture in the tradition of the Arts & Crafts Cotswold School and was a member of the Red Rose Guild of Craftsmen, The Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society and The Crafts Centre of Great Britain

English Yew: Although not technically a hardwood Yew's annual growth rings are so tight that it is usually harder and heavier than your average hardwood. It requires a great deal of skill to work with it successfully. The finished result can be very attractive and unique with a fine grain with numerous interesting and varied crossgrains, knots and pips. Its smooth texture give it a lustrous finish. It is a very tough, resilient and durable wood (Yew was the wood of choice for English longbows) which is relatively uncommon, especially in sections of timber larger enough to make furniture

The Cotswold School was a development of the Arts and Craft Movement started largely by Ernest Gimson and the brothers Sidney and Ernest Barnsley. The furniture is instantly recognisable with its simple lines, attention to the finest of details, and use of beautiful materials. Cotswold School designs were crafted from local materials using traditional tools and techniques and with decorative details derived largely from utilitarian elements: exposed joinery, unusual panels, interesting pulls and latches crafted either from wood or from metal using traditional smithing techniques, and close attention to form as well as to wood grain and pattern. Where decorative details were added they generally took the form of traditional embellishment such as exposed joints, chamfered edges and chip carved edge details. The style was embraced and developed by other designers and craftsmen including Gordon Russell, Stanley Webb Davies in Cumbria, Sid Barnsley's son Edward, Arthur Romney Green in Hampshire, Robin Nance in St Ives and Ambrose Heal are a handful of such men out of many. The best developed their own style within the established tradition

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or wish to discuss items further

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