Digswell Arts Trust was the brainchild of Henry Morris, a pioneering educationalist. Through his enthusiasm, dedication and influence he persuaded the Government and the Welwyn Garden City Development Corporation to establish a Trust for professional artists in Welwyn Garden City, England.
It was formally inaugurated by Countess Mountbatten on 29 May 1957.
The house was leased to the Trust to provide accommodation and studios for artists at a modest rent.
The first artists moved in at the end of 1957 and over the next 27 years nearly 150 were accommodated there. Some, including Michael Andrews, Ralph Brown, John Brunsdon, James Butler, Peter Collingwood, Hans Coper, Lol Coxhill, Elizabeth Fritsch & John W Mills have become internationally famous.
In the early 1980s the Trust was financially unable to continue at Digswell House which was sold for refurbishment and was divided into a number of separate apartments.
1980s to present day
Attimore Hall Barn, a restored 17th century listed building in the Panshangar area of Welwyn Garden City, had been leased in 1979 by the Trust as additional studio space.The Barn became the Trust’s base from 1984 until April 2006. English Partnershipshad by then taken control of the barn planning to convert it to housing. They worked with the Trust to design a new purpose-built studio building on the site of the former forge in Digswell, on which a 25 year lease was taken in April 2006.
In 1993 the Stevenage Borough Council leased the Fairlands Valley Farmhouse to the Trust nearly doubling the available studio space. In 2012, with the support of Letchworth Heritage Foundation, the Trust opened its third studio premises in Fenners Building, Openshaw Way, Letchworth. The new building brings the number of artists supported by the Trust to 45 in 2015.