3.1.10 Kenneth Eager

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  • Born 1929; died 2013.
  • Member of the Guild 1974-1989
  • Stone carver

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Kenneth Eager was born in Brighton on January 2 1929, one of three children of the town’s registrar and educated at a local private school, the Xaverian College, where he converted to Roman Catholicism. His headmaster, perceiving Kenneth’s artistic talent, suggested that he apply to the Guild, which he joined on leaving school aged 16. Kenneth Eager arrived in Ditchling in 1945, becoming one of two assistants to Joeeph Cribb. Eager remained at the Guild after Cribb’s death in 1967, and was still there when it was finally wound up in 1989.

While his commissions were civic as well as ecclesiastical, most of his work was tombstones and memorial stones, and his handiwork can be seen at churches and churchyards across Sussex. As well as carving all the letters, he also specialised in heraldic devices. Church restoration was another source of income including assisting Cribb on repair work at Canterbury Cathedral.

An important commission was the headstone for Sir Norman Hartnell, the Queen’s dressmaker, who is buried in the churchyard at Clayton, West Sussex. He also worked on the Pelham Memorial in Falmer parish church, which names the dead from the two World Wars; and he carved a baptismal font for Telscombe Catholic church. He contributed to the Stations of the Cross (carved in sycamore and walnut) for St John’s Seminary at Wonersh in Surrey.

On retiring, he and his wife lived for 11 years at Uzès, a town near Nimes in southern France, where Eager occupied himself tending a beautiful garden overlooking a valley. When this became too much for him, they moved to Malta, where their son was working in the Diplomatic Service. He stayed there until his death in 2013.

At the end of the Guild, Eager in the stone workshop with the reliefs by Cribb and Chute, salvaged from the Chapel, to his right.
Norman Hartnell’s gravestone, carved by Eager

Daily Telegraph Obituary