3. People

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Members of the Guild

NameBornDiedJoined GuildLeft GuildSkills Comments
Eric Gill 188219401920 (founder)1921 (resigned)Sculptor, stone- cutter, engraver, font designer, writer
Inspiration behind the Guild and the best known figure.
Hilary Pepler187819511920 (founder)1934 (expelled)Printer, publisherAbandoned a career as a civil servant to follow Gill. Established a private printing press at the Guild. A man of wide-ranging interests.
Desmond Chute18951962 1920 (founder) 1921 (resigned)Poet, artist, stone-cutter, assistant to GillLeft the Guild soon after formation to become a catholic priest. Spent his much of his life in rarefied company on the Italian Riviera.
Joseph Cribb1892196719201967 (died)Sculptor, stone-cutterBrilliant stone cutter, worked closely with Gill on many projects. Central figure in the Guild’s history.
George Maxwell1890195719211957 (died)Wheelwright, builder, carpenter, loom-makerJoined the Guild from Birmingham as the Guild’s builder and carpenter. Autodidactic distributionist and theologian. After the war concentrated on loom-making.
Philip Baker?1900?197519321939 (resigned)CarpenterBrother-in-law to George Maxwell. He continued working as a carpenter until retirement. He died on holiday in Spain, at the Abbey of Santa Maria de Montserrat.
Philip Hagreen189019881930 (briefly a postulant in 1924)1955 (retired)Painter, engraverAn artist and engraver of great skill. When joining he Guild, he withdrew from the mainstream artistic community content to live a modest devout life.
Valentine KilBride1897198219261982 (died)Weaver and dyer
Bernard Brocklehurst1904199619301941 (resigned)Weaver and dyerWorked with Valentine KilBride, but did not return after a hiatus caused by the war. Continued to work as a much-respected weaver.
Dunstan Pruden1907197419341974 (died)SilversmithBrilliant ecclesiastical silversmith; well read and cosmopolitan individual.
Mark Pepler1911195819321933 (resigned) Printer, publisher Son of Hilary Pepler. Carried on St Dominic’s Press after leaving the Guild, renamed as The Ditchling Press.
Cyril Costick19321933 (resigned)PrinterAssistant to Hilary Pepler, mainstay of the operation. Continued to work for the Ditchling Press.
John Maxwell1928198419581979 (retired due to ill-health)CarpenterSon of George Maxwell. Became a postulant in 1943 but did not become a member until his father died when he took over the workshop.
Noel Knapp Tabbenor19681978 (resigned)Stone-cutter Assistant to Joseph Cribb, apprenticed 1936. Described by his son as follows: “He was a sculptor and letterer by trade, in either stone or wood… he worked on many churches, cathedrals and businesses throughout the south east. Long gone but never forgotten.”
Edgar Holloway197019411950 1989 (closure) Engraver, illustrator, painter, and sign-writerFinal chair of the Guild.
Thomas Kilbridec194019601989 (closure)WeaverAssistant to his father, Valentine KilBride. Had relocated to the Northern West Highlands of Scotland well before the Guild finished. setting up with his wife as crofters, using wool from their flock of grey Gotland sheep, dyes from the local rocks and plants and weaving them on a traditional loom.
Kenneth Eager192920131974 1989 (closure) Stone-cutterAssistant to Joseph Cribb, first apprenticed 1945.
Jenny KilBride19481974 1989 (closure) Weaver and DyerThe daughter of Valentine KilBride, the first female member of the Guild.
Winefride Pruden191320081975 1989 (closure) SilversmithSecond wife, later the widow of Dunstan Pruden, who taught her silversmithing.
Ewan Clayton
19561983 1989 (closure) CalligrapherGrandson of Valentine KilBride, caligrapher


William Tull19211922Assistant to Hilary Pepler. Nothing else known to me.
David Jones1895197419241925Painter, engraver, assistant to George Maxwell, later poet. An outstanding talent, bordering on genius. Other than Gill, the most important figure associated with the Guild.
Michael Sewell,
later Fr Brocard Sewell
1912200019321933One time assistant to Hilary Pepler, later Carmelite friar and writer. Erudite figure, well known outside religious circles. Guilty of enigmatic fascist sympathies.
Aubrey David19321933Assistant to Hilary Pepler. Nothing else known to me.
John Hagreen1919200319371941Printer and book-binder, son of Philip Hagreen. Ordained as priest 1952.
John Mohr19571957Assistant to George Maxwell. Nothing else known to me.

Other local artists and important figures

Edward Johnson18721944Followed Gill from London to Ditchling where he spent the left of his life. Did not share Gill’s religious beliefs so was not involved in the formation of the Guild. Designed the Typeface for the London Underground.
Father Vincent McNab18681943Fr. McNabb was a member of the Dominican order for 58 years and served as professor of philosophy at Hawkesyard Priory, prior at Woodchester, parish priest at St. Dominic’s Priory, and prior and librarian at Holy Cross Priory, Leicester, as well as in various other official capacities for his Dominican province .Fr. McNabb was among the early Catholic ecumenists, seeking in particular to promote reunion between the Catholic Church and the Anglicans.

McNabb sought also to promote a vision of social justice inspired by St. Thomas Aquinas and by Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum novarum, which called upon “every minister of holy religion… to bring to the struggle [for broad distribution of property] the full energy of his mind and all his powers of endurance”, as well as to shore up both faith and reason against the threat of modernism. This led him to promote distributism, especially those aspects relating to land ownership, and he was a key figure in the Catholic Land Movement. He was an important influence on Gill when he first became a Catholic, although this influence waned as the Guild were not able to pursue his ideas in agricultural self-sufficiency.
Herbert Shove18861943WW1 naval officer, convert to Catholicism, Ditchling resident, distributist thinker, general eccentric and Guild supporter. Successfully returned to naval duties in WW2, notwithstanding fascist sympathies.
Ethel Mairet
Hilary Bourne
Sir Frank Brangwyn18671956A renowned Welsh artist, painter, watercolourist, printmaker, illustrator, and designer. His life strangely shadows that of the Guild founders. He was part of the artistic community in Hammersmith before moving to Ditchling, also he had a Catholic background. He work often celebrated Empire and so its popularity has declined over time.
John Lord
Louis GinnetLouis Ginnett educated at the Brighton Grammar School then in Buckingham Road, and studied art at the Brighton School of Art where in 1909 he began to teach.

In 1919 Ginnett came to Ditchling. He lived in Chichester House in the High Street until his death in 1946. He became known as a portrait painter and many of his portraits show his daughter Mary as she grew up.
Charles Knight
John Skelton19231999Skelton was a nephew of Eric Gill and was first apprenticed to his uncle, shortly before Gill’s death. He continued his training under Joseph Cribb. He set up his workshop at Streat, near Ditchling and had many prestigious commissions. His daughter Helen also trained as a sculptor and works at his workshop