Britain in the Fifties: Design and Aspiration Exhibition

As well as being a fan of the 1960s, I also have a lot of love for the 1950s specifically, mid-century design and r&b music (and those Beatniks - great style). Which is why when I heard about the Britain in the Fifties exhibition at Compton Verney I just knew that I had to make a trip up there to visit it. I went the other week and decided to make a weekend of it, staying at a country hotel about a 15 minute drive away. It was really nice to get out of London and get some fresh air! I was a very bad blogger and neglected to get any pictures of myself (in my defence, you weren't allowed to take photo's in the exhibition) but have included photos below from the Compton Verney website.

Britain in the Fifties explores the history of post–war design through the experiences of the average British couple. The 1950s was a time when Britain, emerging from years of austerity and rationing, led the world in the quality and innovation of its decorative and applied arts, and when good design became affordable by all. Leading artists now chose to work for commercial design companies, and many became household names. In the years which followed the ground breaking Festival of Britain of 1951, design played a crucial role in shaping and redefining the Brave New World of a modernising and increasingly prosperous Britain.

The exhibition looks at all aspects of 1950s design, both inside and outside the home: from Lucienne Day’s furnishing fabrics, Horrockses’ dresses and Robert Welch’s cutlery to Ken Wood’s Kenwood Chef, Enid Seeney’s ‘Homemaker’ ceramics and Alec Issigonis’ Mini.

Compton Verney itself is an independent national art gallery, set in stunning grounds landscaped by Capability Brown (who I first heard about on the One Show - which for non UK viewers is a magazine programme shown every weekday evening here in the UK. It can be super cheesy but it does have some really informative stories from time to time) and is located nine miles from Stratford-Upon-Avon.

The exhibition is on until 2 October 2016 and you can find out more at the Compton Verney website. It's definitely worth a visit!



  1. That looks lovely - I've seen other photos of it and it looks like a great exhibition.

    On a 50s note, I'm trying to rehome a 1950s Prestcold fridge. Do you have any tips for how I might find someone who wants it? I'm giving it away, I just can't seem to find anyone who wants it, but it seems a shame to take it to the tip. I clearly don't know enough 50s lovers.

    1. Oh if only I had somewhere to store it - I would take it off your hands straight away! I could always post some pictures of it on my fb page? There might be a group on there actually where they sell vintage furniture - I'll have a look next time I'm on there.

    2. Oh, Facebook is a good suggestion - I'll see if there's a group doing that.

  2. Hi, Sarah!

    Mrs. Shady and I would love to visit the Britain in the Fifties exhibition at Compton Verney. Gazing at mid 20th century designs and color schemes has a calming effect on me. Don't you just love the tiny vintage camper trailer and car?

    My recent 8th anniversary post offered a glimpse of how my bedroom looked in 1952:

    Traveling up to that national art gallery and viewing that Atomic Age exhibit was well worth the time spent, Sarah. Thanks for posting about it!

    1. Yes the tiny camper and car were very cute, if a little claustrophobic! I can imagine it being a squeeze having two people in the camper. It goes so well with the Mini though!

  3. I got the invite but we were busy - as usual! It looked like a wonderful exhibition - that Mini rocks - so much better than those new things! xxx


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