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Davoll, Henry (Harry) (1901-1940)

Davoll, Henry (Harry)

Liverpool, Lancashire and Daneway, Gloucestershire; cabinet maker (fl. 1901-c. 1940)

Harry Davoll was born in Derbyshire and apprenticed in Hereford. He was employed by Waring & Gillow in Liverpool but was out of work when he heard about the opening of the Gimson/Barnsley workshop in Daneway from Mr Pugsley, the first cabinet maker employed there.

Davoll became the second cabinet maker taken on in November 1901, having first been vetted by the foreman, Peter Waals. The hours of work at the Daneway workshops were, according to Harry Davoll, 7am to 5.30pm and 7am to 1pm on Saturdays. He earned the respect of Ernest Gimson and wrote that having been entrusted with the making of a segmental sideboard in English oak and having queried ‘the unnecessary heaviness of the centre posts, Gimson, after a little thought, agreed, and the piece was amended accordingly’. According to Davoll, the change in Gimson’s designs to a less ponderous style was a result of persuasion from the cabinet makers in the workshop.

Before the outbreak of war in 1914 Davoll assisted the making of the furniture to Gimson’s designs for the Cathedral Church of All Saints in Khartoum, Sudan. He later said that that all the main joints of the Bishop’s Seat were constructed to accommodate movement because of the extremes in humility in that country.

During the First World War skilled labour was scarce, and when the clergy seats were being made for Westminster Cathedral in 1915, trained men were paid between 1s 1d and 1s. 3d per hour. Davoll received 1s 2 ¼ d.

After Gimson’s death in 1919 Davoll worked for Peter Waals, and George Trevelyan, who trained in the new workshops in Chalford 1929-31, described him as ‘one of the old heroes...[who was very much at the top of his form, and to his great age went on making beautiful things in his home workshop’. The archives at Cheltenham Museum & Art Gallery have personal and family records, photographs, books and drawings relating to Davoll for the period that he worked for Gimson and Waals. Davoll left Waal’s employ in 1933 and established a new workshop besides his cottage in nearby Oakridge Lynch, Gloucestershire.

Davoll's cabinet work was featured in many of the Gimson-designed exhibits at the Arts & Crafts Exhibitions, London, 1903-1916, included:

1903 – china cabinet, exhibited by A.E. Barnsley and Gimson, and executed by H. Sefton and Davoll, price £50 (cat. no. 102); also a store cupboard, exhibited by the same, executed by Davoll, price £75 (191).

1906 – sideboard in elm, executed by Davoll, price £37 10s (cat. no. 60); writing cabinet, executed by Davoll, metalwork by H. Gardiner, price £30 (280).

1910 – small case of four drawers & walnut stationery box, both executed by Davoll, prices £4 10s and £4 5s (341A & 341B); ebony and walnut cabinet, executed by Davoll , price £38 10s. (343); painted ebony cabinet, executed by Davoll and Louise Powell, price £15 (cat. no. 500A).

1916 –painted mahogany writing cabinet on gilded and painted stand, painted by Louise Powell, made by H. Davell [Davoll], price £60 (cat. no. 321c); mahogany cabinet on black stand, executed by Henry Darell [Davoll?] price £28 10s (431); corner cupboard, price £15 (458k); dressing table in burr elm and ebony, executed by Davoll and P. Burchett, lent by C. Maresco Pearce (458x); case of drawers in burr elm, executed by Davoll (458z); sideboard in English walnut and ebony, executed by E. Smith and Davoll, lent by Allan Tangye (458ff); walnut stationery box, made by Davoll, price £5 (458qq).

Examples of Davoll’s work for Gimson are in the Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum (illus. Carruthers & Greensted (1994) pp. 99 & 141-3, 251). Photographs of Harry Davoll and the other staff at the Daneway workshops in about 1902 and Davoll in his workshop in the 1940s are illus. Carruthers, Greensted, Roscoe (2019), pp. 87 & 321.

A painting in oils by Sir William Rothenstein titled ‘Cotswold Craftsmen, Far Oakridge’ shows Harry Davoll, Harry Gardiner, Fred Gardiner, Alfred Bucknell and Tom Hunt about 1920 (illus. Comino (1980), p. 202). 

Sources: Sir George Trevelyan, The Workshop of Peter Waals. A Tribute from a Pupil (1969); Lambourne, Utopian Craftsmen (1980); Comino, Gimson and the Barnsleys ‘Wonderful furniture of a commplace kind’ (1980); Carruthers & Greensted, Good Citizen’s Furniture (1994); Greensted and Wilson, Originality and Initiative. The Arts and Crafts archives at Cheltenham (2003); Carruthers, Greensted, Roscoe, Ernest Gimson. Arts & Crafts Designer and Architect (2019); Arts & Crafts Exhibition catalogues, 1888-1916.