The format of the Catalogue may require some explanation. The primary source for the item is provided, followed by architect/designer, and then carver, according to the primary source and/or the PWDRO photographs. Lastly, the date (usually of installation) is given, either from an inscription on the item, a newspaper report of its dedication, the church guide, or some other source. A description of the item is then provided, together with any other related information. Extensive references for the Catalogue are provided at the end, as is a list of abbreviations.
This church suffered major bomb damage through enemy action on 26 January 1943 (Twyford, 2005). Herbert Read of Exeter was invited to excavate for and salvage any remains of ancient woodcarving (WMN, 1943a), but much of it must have been beyond repair, as the ‘ornamentation along the top of the screens across the transepts is all that survives of the finely carved mediaeval screens’ (ag-project.co.uk). It is assumed that the work by V. Pinwill was also destroyed, since there is no evidence of it in the church.
Reredos – Photograph (PWDRO 116/25 & 244/2) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1926
A faculty was granted for an oak reredos in memory of Revd Preb. Thomas Francis Boultbee in 1926 (DHC 328A/3/PW/2), although no dedication can be seen in the PWDRO photograph. Plan for the reredos exist at DHC (1626B/P/1-2) signed by Reginald Wheatly.
Desk – Photograph (PWDRO 116/26) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
All Saints, begun in 1865, was designed by William Butterfield and is one of his most important churches, especially its interior, which is ‘extremely characteristic of this most wilful of High Church architects’ (Cherry & Pevsner, 2004 p. 848). Edmund H. Sedding carried out alterations and additions to the vicarage in 1912 and designed a memorial cross for the churchyard in 1913 (DHC 1626B/P/204-206). Later work by the Pinwill company is situated in the Lady Chapel.
Altar and Reredos – Photograph (PWDRO 116/27 & 244/5) R. Pinwill carver; 1922
The design of this altar is rather reminiscent of several made for Cornish churches, except that the cross in the centre is not Celtic. In the PWDRO photograph the reredos features three paintings by an unknown artist. It is surmounted by a carving of the Madonna and child, very similar in design to the central roundel in the pulpit at St Mary’s Abbotsbury, which is based on Madonna col figlio by Guercino (GC/PA 27). A faculty dated 1922 for the reredos exists at DHC (PWDRO 2423/4) and joiner Albert E. Elliott, employed by Violet Pinwill, sent a postcard home from Babbacombe in May of that year, when these pieces were presumably being installed. They are dedicated to the memory of John Penn Milton (died July 1917 at Scapa Flow) and given by his mother Alice Ellen (John Cannon, Secretary All Saints PCC, pers. comm.). Plans for the reredos are located at DHC (1626B/P/204-206).
The photograph of the reredos, which appears to have been taken before installation, clearly shows the three paintings. The central one, in an elaborate gilded rectangular frame, is of a group of people in medieval dress in some form of celebration, while the other two are of angels, one sounding a long trumpet and the other playing a tambourine, incorporated into gilded niches. It is difficult to discern whether the paintings are themselves of any antiquity but the style is certainly medieval. Curiously, these paintings have since been removed, the three panels covered with blue cloth, a tabernacle inserted, the whole reredos gilded and the Madonna and child gilded and painted. The work has been done well but the removal of the paintings is rather interesting. It may have been that they detracted from the new tabernacle, or they were damaged in some way. The blue cloth probably serves the purpose of covering over the marks from fixings for the paintings. A quest continues to discover the whereabouts of the paintings (John Cannon, Secretary All Saints PCC, pers. comm.).
Painting – Newspaper article (NDJ, 1944) V. Pinwill; 1944
An article in the North Devon Journal in December 1944 describes a painted wooden plaque in medieval colouring as a reproduction of an old master of the Madonna and child and the work of Miss Violet Pinwill. It is very similar in design to the central roundel in the pulpit at St Mary’s Abbotsbury, which is based on Madonna col figlio by Guercino (GC/PA 27). It was a gift to the church from the children of the Sunday school to be placed in the Baptistery. A visit to St John’s in June 2014 revealed that, although the Baptistery had been moved during reordering, the painting had remained in its original position and was now above the new kitchen. The warden was delighted to learn about the origin of the painting and it was later confirmed by the Revd Andy Dodwell that it would be moved to a more suitable position in the new Baptistery.
Altar Rails – Newspaper article (TC, 1917), Photograph (PWDRO 244/4) R. Pinwill carver; 1917
These altar rails were the gift of Mrs Bolitho in memory of her late husband’s mother and grandmother. An article in The Cornishman cites the Parish magazine, saying that the rails are ‘the work of Miss Rashleigh Pinwell [sic], of Plymouth, whose name ensures excellence of workmanship, and who is well-known throughout the West of England’ (Ibid. p. 5). After a visit to the church to see the altar rails, a match was made with an unannotated photograph in PWDRO 244/4.
Panelling – Photograph (PWDRO 116/28 & 244/1) R. Pinwill carver; 1923
The original panelling shown in the photograph bore an inscription stating that it was in memory of John and Mary Toll of Hole Farm and that it was erected in 1923. During a visit to the church it became apparent that the panelling no longer existed, possibly as a result of a beetle infestation in 1980. However, two determined local historians, Jean Sharman and Helen Tavener tracked down the inscription, which had been saved and remains over a bookcase at the back of church.
Rood Screen – Newspaper article (CT, 1898) E. Sedding architect
In 1898 Edmund Sedding was called in to carry out restoration work on the fine C15th rood screen at Berry Pomeroy, which was suffering from dry rot. A plan of sections of the screen is held at DHC (1626B/P/3) and there is a possibility that the necessary recarving of rotten pieces of screen was carried out by Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co., although there is as yet no confirmation.
This church was almost entirely rebuilt, apart from the tower, by the brothers Edmund and John Dando Sedding 1868-72 (Cherry & Pevsner, 2004).
Unknown item – Chaytor (1990)
A visit here revealed no obvious Pinwill woodcarving, though the modern reredos may be a contender.
Reredos and Panelling – Photograph (PWDRO 244/1) V. Pinwill carver; 1925
The reredos bears an inscription stating that Mary Grace Moore died at Kelly Rectory in September 1924. A faculty for an oak reredos and panelling as a memorial to her was granted in 1925 (DHC 989A/3/PW/5).
Unknown item – Chaytor (1990)
A visit in July 2014 revealed no definite evidence of work by V. Pinwill, although a clergy stall datable to c. 1950 bore woodcarvings comparable with her work in that late period.
Unknown item – Chaytor (1990)
A visit to this church in December 2011 found no tangible evidence of Pinwill work, although there are a number of items of modern woodcarving. A good possibility is carvings in the porch, designed by Edmund H. Sedding in 1913 (DHC 1626B/P/4-5).
Unknown item – Chaytor (1990)
Most of the modern woodcarving in this church, apart from the organ chamber, dates from the restoration of 1891 (Bridgerule, undated). During a visit in July 2014 there was no definite evidence of Pinwill work.
Pulpit – Guide (Fisher, 2011)
The guide (p. 3) states that the pulpit is ‘probably by the daughters of the Rev. Edmund Pinwill of Ermington’. It is dedicated to the Revd Theophilus Jones, who died in 1886, well before the Pinwill sisters had fully developed their carving skills. This design suggests that it is more likely to be the work of Herbert Read, who later created the fine oak reredos behind the high altar and probably the choir stalls as well.
Lady Chapel Altar, Altar Rails, Riddel Posts and Credence – Chaytor (1990; after 1941
The suite of furniture in the Lady Chapel is immediately recognisable as designed by R. F. Wheatly. The altar is in memory of Annie Louise Powell, who died in 1941, and bears silver-gilded symbols of the four evangelists reminiscent of Wheatly’s other work of that period for which he engaged V. Pinwill as carver. The altar rails, the angels on the riddel posts and the cherub’s face on the credence set into the chapel wall are also very much in keeping with Wheatly design and Pinwill execution.
Font Cover – Photograph (PWDRO 116/29) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
The design of the font cover is very similar to others produced by Violet Pinwill, such as at Tavistock in Devon and at Kenwyn, Landulph, and Pillaton in Cornwall, which all have a border of Aaron’s rod and four curved ‘handles’ surmounted by a dove. Unfortunately, the cover at Broadclyst has lost its dove, though one is shown in the photograph at PWDRO.
Lectern – Newspaper article (WMN, 1891) E. Sedding designer, R. Pinwill carver; 1891
Some important early work by Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co. is not recorded in the photographs at PWDRO, including this piece, an elaborate eagle lectern. Fortunately, it is described in full in The Western Morning News on 12 October 1891:
Rashleigh, Pinwill, & Co., art carvers, of Buckland terrace, Plymouth, have just completed a fine oak lectern from the design by Mr. E. Sedding, architect of Plymouth, for Brooking Church, near Totnes. The lectern consists of an unusually fine eagle, posed as though standing on a rock, and about to take its flight. The stem upon which this is placed is most cleverly carved, and represents the natural trunk of a tree. Surrounding this are four very elaborate panels of open tracery work, standing entirely apart from the stem, and these are surmounted by richly-carved pinnacles and crocketting, the whole springing from fine solid oak base. It will undoubtedly add to the reputation of the architect and the artists. The lectern was used for the first time yesterday at the Brooking harvest festival. (WMN, 1891 p. 5)
The lectern is still in use and wearing well (though a section of the eagle’s feet is now loose) in this beautiful church featuring Dartington and other Devon marbles.
Holy Trinity Church at Buckfastleigh was destroyed by arson in 1992 and none of its wooden artefacts survive, including those produced by V. Pinwill.
Reredos – Photograph (PWDRO 116/30) V. Pinwill carver; 1936
The reredos was a memorial to Mary White, Churchwarden, and was given by the Mother’s Union on St Luke’s Day 1936.
Wall Panel – Hedges (2005); 1930s
It is possible for the reredos listed above, being rather flat, to be described as a wall panel and so these two items may be one and the same.
Chancel Screen Restoration – Photograph (PWDRO 255/3) E. Pinwill carver; 1907
The restoration of this ancient screen is an extremely beautiful and accomplished body of work. There are two pieces of evidence that strongly suggest that this restoration was carried out by Ethel Pinwill. The photograph in PWDRO 255/3 is annotated on the back ‘carved by E. Pinwill’ and the church holds a Restoration Balance Sheet in which one of the outgoings is for £424 15s to ‘Miss E. Pinwill’. The work was overseen by architect George H. Fellowes Prynne as part of the restoration, reseating and improvement of the church during this period (DHC 2150A/PW/2/a/1). It appears in a list of notable ancient screens with modern vaulting in Devon (Slader, 1968).
Unknown item – Chaytor (1990)
Unknown item – Chaytor (1990)
Wall Panel – Hedges (2005); 1930s
The panel or panelling in question has not been definitely identified but it may be the WWI memorial in the south chapel.
Choir Stalls – A local man, now deceased, claimed that the choir stalls at Chagford were made by his aunt Violet Pinwill. However, no documentary evidence has been found to corroborate this claim, neither about the choir stalls, nor for Violet Pinwill having a nephew living in Chagford. Indeed, his stepson has traced the family tree back to the eighteenth century and not found any connection with the Pinwills (Jacky Fogarty, family historian, pers. comm.). Added to this, the angels on the choir stalls are most untypical, being depicted only from the waist up. This design is much more like the work of Herbert Read, who was responsible for much of the other modern carving in the church.
Chancel Chair – Newspaper article (WMN, 1905) R. Pinwill carver; 1905
Cornwood church is listed in Chaytor (1990) as having Pinwill work but there is no further information. An article in the Western Morning News about an exhibition of woodcarving by Rashleigh Pinwill & Co. in Plymouth in February 1905 reveals that one of the items on display was a chancel chair for Cornwood church. It is described as:
... very handsome and interesting, all the detail of which is emblematic. In the centre is the Tree of Life, at the top the Exeter Arms, with the Bishop’s mitre above, and below the Lion and the Lamb representing peace, under the seat the Serpent and Thistles (WMN, 1905 p. 8).
This description enabled the identification of an unlabelled photograph in PWDRO 116/116 and 244/4 as being the chancel chair for Cornwood church. It is indeed a hansome and ornate piece of work. The designer could have been either Edmund H. Sedding or Frederick Bligh Bond, as both architects are listed as having work in the Rashleigh Pinwill exhibition.
Unknown item – Chaytor (1990)
At first sight, the choir stalls seem the most likely candidate but further investigations revealed that they were probably made by Herbert Read of Exeter (Harrison, H., unpublished).
Candlestick (2) and Cross – Church correspondence (DHC 967A/PW/2/f/23) V. Pinwill carver; 1952/53
The only evidence for this work is correspondence held in DHC. It consists of a series of letters received by the incumbent Revd E. Claydon from Violet Pinwill and Mrs Norah Bowater of Stoke Lodge, Stoke Fleming, who appears to be the benefactor for the order of two candlesticks and a cross for a side altar. The letters start ordinarily enough with Violet and the Revd Claydon discussing the design of the items during July and early August 1952. The Faculty was granted in late August and the order accepted in September, although discussions about the detail of the design went on into October.
Between then and the delivery of the candlesticks and cross in January 1953 something went terribly wrong. Mrs Bowater returned the items to Violet and in a covering letter, copied to Revd Claydon, stated ‘I am sorry to say that I am very disappointed in the Cross and candlesticks you have made for Dittisham Church’. She goes on to itemise her complaints related to the quality of the materials and workmanship, and the lack of conformation to the agreed design. Violet’s reply, copied to Revd Claydon, begins ‘Your letter and return of this work was a complete and unpleasant surprise. During a long and successful business career, in which I have carried out hundreds of orders (among them twenty new and restored Rood screens), such an event has never happened before’. In a long and detailed letter, she proposes various solutions to Mrs Bowater’s complaints. None of these appear to please Mrs Bowater, who begins a letter to Revd Claydon in mid March with ‘Miss Pinwill is past a joke’ and later continues ‘I am quite prepared, providing she charges a reasonable amount for the Cross alone, to add something for her out-of-pocket expenses as I suppose she can’t help being like she is!’ The outcome of this trying situation is not revealed as the correspondence ends in late March with details of a meeting at the church to try to resolve the problem. This may have been one order that Violet regretted accepting. During a visit to the church in August 2017 there was no sign of the candlesticks but a gilded cross corresponding to a drawing enclosed in the letters is now in the North Chapel.
Pulpit – Chaytor (1990) Pinwill sisters carvers; before August 1889
The pulpit is thought to be one of the earliest pieces made by the sisters and was completed and installed in Ermington church before August 1889 (CC, 1889), but was not designed by Edmund H. Sedding (Chaytor, 1990). It is an accomplished piece of work, although Cherry & Pevsner (2004 p. 355) call it ‘ambitious... competent if not original’.
Organ Case – Chaytor (1990) Pinwill sisters carvers; before 1896
The organ case at Ermington is rather reminiscent of the one at Falmouth All Saints, which was designed by Edmund H. Sedding. It is listed on a handbill illustrated in Chaytor (1990) as being work already undertaken by Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co. The handbill announces the change of address of the company from Buckland Terrace to Athenaeum Street, datable from street directories to about 1896.
Lectern – Chaytor (1990) carver not specified; date unknown
Credence Table – Chaytor (1990) carver not specified; date unknown
No photographs of the lectern or the credence table exist in the PWDRO archive but they are in the ‘complete list’ of Pinwill work in Ermington church given by Chaytor (1990).
Font Cover – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) R. Pinwill carvers; date unknown
A typical ornately-crocketed design, this has no dedication or suggestion of date.
Lady Chapel Reredos – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4) R. Pinwill carvers; after 1900
This reredos is a memorial to Elizabeth A. Pinwill, wife of Edmund and mother of the sisters, who died in October 1900. It features a figure of St Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians, a roundel of the Virgin and child, based on a painting by Guercino, and a figure of St Elizabeth with the young John the Baptist.
Reredos – Photograph (PWDRO 244/1 & 244/5) V. Pinwill carver; 1911
The reredos behind the High Altar is a masterpiece of skillful carving. The upper portion features carvings in wood of the annunciation, the crucifixion and the burial, interspersed with seated figures of the four evangelists, all surmounted by a figure of the risen Christ. The lower section houses a 10’ by 4’ alabaster panel depicting a Nativity scene, the design of which is said to be after Edward Burne-Jones. The figures in the panel certainly have a gracefulness that is evocative of Burne-Jones’s work. Further information on the precise source is given in the Western Morning News report on the dedication: ‘In the presence of a large congregation the service took place, the bright sunlight lighting up the reredos which, in its reverent conception, conveys the impression given by Burne-Jones’s famous tapestry at Oxford and Eton’ (WMN, 1911a). The tapestry to which this statement refers, known as The Adoration of the Maji, may well have been the inspiration for the design of the Ermington reredos, although a shepherd and only one Maji are depicted. The greatest care was taken, however, to ensure the successful realisation of the design. A plaster maquette was made for this panel by the accomplished sculptor Nathaniel Hitch (JTA), which can be seen in three pieces in a photograph of the workshop (PWDRO 244/5). The back of a loose photograph of the reredos (PWDRO 255/1) is annotated ‘Designed by Edmund Sedding Carried out by V. A. Pinwill’, which strongly suggests that the reredos was carved entirely by Violet. Cherry & Pevsner (2004 p. 355) do concede that the reredos is ‘especially remarkable’. A report in the Western Weekly Mercury states that the cost of the reredos was donated by Mrs Pearson in memory of her husband, once a churchwarden at Ermington (WWM, 1911).
A drawing for the reredos by Sedding dated 1909 exists at DHC (1626B/P/21). It differs from the final piece in several respects, most notably in the size, shape and form of the brackets either side of the alabaster panel. Such changes may have come about during the recarving of the piece after the original, almost complete, reredos was destroyed in a fire at the Pinwill workshop in 1910. It is reported that an exact replica was produced (Chaytor, 1990) but it is conceivable that some changes were introduced. The fire was the cause of the long delay between conception and dedication of this wonderful piece of work.
WWI Memorial – Chaytor (1990) V. Pinwill; after 1918
A simple war memorial, featuring Christ on the cross, was carved to commemorate the men of the parish who died in the Great War.
Lady Chapel Altar Rails – Photograph (PWDRO 116/31 & 244/1) V. Pinwill carver; after 1924
When Revd Edmund Pinwill retired as Vicar in 1924, a collection was made and the proceeds used to pay for altar rails in the Lady Chapel and an armchair for Edmund’s use (DWA). A book of subscriptions was compiled that is now in the archive of Ermington church. The inscription on the altar rails states they were erected by parishioners and friends in memory of the service of Edmund Pinwill, Vicar of Ermington and Kingston 1880-1924. A faculty for the altar rails exists at DHC (PWDRO 2423/3).
Memorial Tablet – Newspaper article (WMN, 1928a) V. Pinwill carver; 1928
Revd Edmund Pinwill died in 1926, only two years after his retirement. A memorial tablet carved by Violet, situated on the wall to the left of the altar, was dedicated in December 1928 at a service conducted by Revd H. J. Chaytor. The memorial also commemorates the role of Henry Bingham Mildmay of Flete in the restoration of the churches at Ermington and Kingston. Over 100 parishioners and friends subscribed to the memorial fund. A faculty for the tablet exists at DHC (PWDRO 2423/3).
WWII Memorial – Chaytor (1990) V. Pinwill; after 1945
A small plaque was added below the WWI memorial, listing the names of those who died.
Bench Ends, Screens, Beams and Bosses – Mee (1947); Cherry & Pevsner (2004)
Mee attributes all the modern woodcarving at Ermington to Violet Pinwill, including bench ends, chapel screens and restoration of the beams and bosses of the chancel roof. Similarly, Cherry & Pevsner state that stalls and bench ends were by the Pinwells (sic). It is possible that, while learning their craft, the Pinwill sisters practiced on carvings that are now in the church, particularly ones such as roof bosses. This idea is given some credence by the fact that one of the bosses in the south aisle bears the date ‘1888’ and an ornate ‘R’, which perhaps indicates that it was carved by Mary Rashleigh Pinwill. However, it is likely that the majority of the items mentioned by Mee and by Cherry & Pevsner were carved by expert woodcarvers during the restoration of 1884-89. Much as one might like to attribute more to the Pinwills, the craftsmen hired by John Dando Sedding to restore Ermington church must have produced the majority of the carvings. Only those items listed above can therefore be verified as having been carved by the Pinwill sisters, by Violet herself or in the workshop of V. Pinwill.
Exbourne church is well-endowed with good modern bench ends. The finely carved ones in the nave and north aisle were designed by Herbert Read of Exeter and executed in his workshop soon after 1899 (Exbourne, undated).
Bench Ends and Desks – Photographs (PWDRO 116/32, 244/4 & 244/5) V. Pinwill carver; 1911
This set of bench ends and desks includes choir stalls and was made for the south aisle, restored a little later than the rest of the church. Seven benches and a front desk were provided for the nave, all with carved ends, of which four are not included in the photographs at PWDRO. Three benches and two desks with carved ends were made for the choir but these are now dispersed around the church to make way for less formal chairs in that area. According to a newspaper article (DEG, 1911) the benches and desks were designed by Edmund H. Sedding, although R. F. Wheatly is given as the architect on one of the PWDRO photographs. The Lord Bishop of Crediton visited in March 1911 to reopen the south aisle and dedicate the new furniture. He also dedicated a brass tablet that states that the bench below it is a memorial to D’Oyley William Oldham, Rector of the Parish for 32 years (died 1909), who was instrumental in the restoration of the church. This bench, with one end depicting St Gregory and the other a bird and vine pattern, now sits further east near the sanctuary, and not under the brass tablet. The front panel of the desk accompanying the bench illustrates the parable of the sower, and is described in the article as ‘a triumph of delicate engraving’ (Ibid. p. 3). This desk is now at the back of the nave serving as a hymn book repository. Another bench, dedicated to Elizabeth Tattershall (died 1910) and bearing her initials on the carved end, has also been removed to the back of the church, as has a desk featuring a semi-kneeling angel with thurible, which is partially hidden by other furniture. The third bench for the choir has one end carved with the initials ‘AR’ and now sits, misleadingly, below the brass tablet. Plans for the seating exist at DHC (1626B/P/22-23).
War Memorial Panelling – Photograph (PWDRO 116/45) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1925
The photograph of the war memorial in PWDRO shows three sections of panelling bearing the names of 70 alumni of Exeter School who died in WWI. However, a newspaper report on the occasion of the unveiling in December 1925 reveals that the war memorial took the form of a reredos as well as sanctuary panelling in oak, erected in the school chapel (DEG, 1925). Photographs on the website of Exeter School (exeterschool.org) show that the reredos and panelling are still in place.
Altar – Photograph (PWDRO 116/33) V. Pinwill carver; 1935
The dedication of this altar was reported in the Devon and Exeter Gazette (1935). The article states that it was given in memory of Getrude Claye, and that the artist was Miss V. Pinwill, who had produced a very beautiful memorial, Gothic in character and made in English chestnut wood.
Lectern – Newspaper article (WMN, 1904) Messrs Powell, architects, R. Pinwill carver; 1904
This lectern is an unusual and beautiful design with the supports for the book rest echoing the vaulting in the ancient screen behind. The best evidence for its provenance is provided by a very short newspaper report in 1904, stating that work on the lectern had been carried out by R. Pinwill of Plymouth. It also names the designer as Messrs Powell of London, which provides the first evidence of the sisters working with an architect aside from Edmund H. Sedding. HE (Harberton) provides a much later, erroneous, date of 1911 but does attribute the work to the Misses Pinwell (sic).
Tower Screen – HE (Harberton) Misses Pinwell (sic) carver; date unknown
This item does not appear in the photographs in the PWDRO, nor in any other documentation yet consulted, but HE (Harberton) states that the work was carried out by the Misses Pinwell.
Pulpit – Chaytor (1990); Orme (2008) V. Pinwill carver; 1920
This pulpit is dedicated to F. Morton and Lionel M. Eden, husband and son, respectively, of Minnie Pitts Eden, with the dates 1880-1919.
Choir Stalls – Chaytor (1990); Orme (2008) V. Pinwill carver; 1920
They are dedicated to Edward and Elizabeth Allen, parents of Minnie Pitts Eden.
Organ Case – Chaytor (1990); Orme (2008) V. Pinwill carver; 1920
Screen to Organist’s Seat – Chaytor (1990); Plan (DHC 1626B/P/27)
Chancel Seat – Chaytor (1990); PCC Minutes (PWDRO 1511/13) V. Pinwill carver; 1920
Pulpit Handrail – Chaytor (1990); PCC Minutes (PWDRO 1511/13) V. Pinwill carver; 1921
Sanctuary Panelling – Chaytor (1990); PCC Minutes (PWDRO 1511/13) probably V. Pinwill carver; 1921
None of the work listed above is represented in the photographs at PWDRO but Chaytor (1990) states that Pinwill work is to be found there and Orme (2008) confirms that the pulpit, choir stalls, and organ case were carved by Violet Pinwell (sic) and a faculty for these items was granted 29 April 1920 (PWDRO 1854/2). Plans for the organ case and screen for organist’s seat exist at DHC (1626B/P/26-27). According to the minutes of the PCC, in 1920 Mrs Eden donated the funds for this work to be carried out in memory of her husband and son and her parents (PWDRO 1511/13). In addition, in May 1920 the church paid Violet Pinwill £66 after agreeing in April to replace the pitch pine seat that forms a screen between the chancel and the south aisle with one in carved oak. In 1921 Mrs Eden again donated funds for the addition of a handrail to the pulpit, which was almost certainly carried out by V. Pinwill. In the same year Mrs Eden paid for the installation of carved sanctuary panelling, which again was probably completed by V. Pinwill.
An intriguing mistake was observed on a visit to see these items. The border around the top of the pulpit is carved with vine leaves, grapes, birds and animals. Each corner should meet so that the pattern continues, with leaves meeting leaves and grapes meeting grapes. However, the order has not been followed, so that in two places leaves meet grapes. This would have been the responsibility of the joiners sent to install the woodcarvings. Perhaps it was a Saturday afternoon and they were in a rush to get back to Plymouth.
Roll of Honour – Hedges (2005) V. Pinwill carver; 1930s
Ron Dustan, who worked as a wood carver for Violet Pinwill, remembers making a wall panel for this church in the 1930s. This corresponds with a plan held at DHC (1626B/P/25) drawn by Rashleigh Pinwill for a Roll of Honour for those who died in WWI, although the design differs somewhat from the one made.
Reredos, Organ Case and Panelling – Photographs (PWDRO 116/111, 244/4 & 244/5) carver not specified; 1912 with later additions and alterations
The same photograph in two albums at the PWDRO (244/4 & 244/5) shows the elaborately carved reredos assembled in the workshop prior to despatch. Another photograph was taken in the church, presumably soon after installation, of an identical reredos (116/111). This is not labelled and only recently identified as being at Iddesleigh. At some point, parts of the reredos were changed. The deep inverted cresting shown in the photographs was replaced by coving with cresting above and the curved brackets either side became semi-kneeling praying angels. The carved pieces that were removed were not wasted, however, as they were used to ornament the front of the organ case. Plans by E.H. Sedding exist (DHC 1626B/P/30-34) as well as a faculty dated 1911 (PWDRO 2423/3). One of the plans (1626B/P/30) shows that an early idea for the central panel of the reredos was for a nativity rather than a calvary scene, while another (1626B/P/32) is for ‘new top for reredos and panelling’. The reredos was presented to the church in 1912 (Ellis, undated).
Chancel Screen – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) carver not specified; after 1906 and 1911
This richly carved screen, very much in the traditional style, runs across the nave and north aisle. The nave section is dedicated to Mary Olivia Jenkins (d. 1906), identified by the guide (Instow, undated) as the wife of the Revd W. T. L. Jenkins, Rector. The north portion was added later and commemorates Chamberlain Henry Hinchcliff (died 1891) and his wife Matilda (died 1911) and was the gift of their daughters. Plans for the screen by E. Sedding exist at DHC (1626B/P/35-41), as well as a faculty for the north section dated 1911 (PWDRO 2423/4). The plans show several different versions of the screen before one was agreed.
Choir Stalls – Newspaper article (WMN, 1914) Sedding & Wheatly architects, R. Pinwill carver; 1914
These choir stalls are not represented in the photographs at PWDRO but their dedication is recorded in a newspaper report. This states that some ‘very finely-carved oak stalls’ with ‘bold poppy-heads, all varied in pattern’ were ‘an immense improvement to the church’ (WMN, 1914 p. 8).
The parish church at Ivybridge dates from 1882 and its most striking feature is the elegant oak chancel screen created in traditional style by Herbert Read of Exeter in 1911.
Chancel Panelling – Guide (Ivybridge, 1982) R. Pinwill; 1913
The guide states that the panelling in the chancel was designed by Messrs Sedding and Wheatly and carried out by Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co. in 1913.
Lady Chapel Altar – Photograph (PWDRO 116/34 & 244/2) V. Pinwill carver; 1929
The altar in the Lady Chapel is a memorial to Violet Barton who died in October 1929 and the church applied for a faculty in November that year (PWDRO 1291/35).
Candlesticks (Pair) – Photograph (PWDRO 116/34) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
These candlesticks were not seen on a visit in September 2013 and may no longer be in use.
Unknown item – Chaytor (1990)
No furnishings or fittings of Pinwill character could be found at this church. The search was extended to Jacobstow in Cornwall but nothing was revealed there either.
Unknown item – Chaytor (1990)
Unknown item – Chaytor (1990)
Rood Screen – Photograph (PWDRO 116/35 & 244/5) R. Pinwill carver; 1899-1915
The magnificent rood screen, based on the original medieval one and containing small fragments of it, is unusual in that the recreation devised by Revd Sabine Baring-Gould is complete with full loft, tabernacle-work and brattishing. The work was supervised by the architect Frederick Bligh Bond, a cousin of Baring-Gould, and the woodcarving was carried out between 1899 and 1915 by ‘the Misses Pinwell of Plymouth and Ermington’ (Dickinson, undated, p. 8). A section of the screen was put on display for a few days in March 1899 by Harris and Sons at their gallery in George Street, Plymouth (WMN, 1899). A report on the exhibition stated that the carving ‘has to the minutest detail been most skilfully and artistically executed, and as an illustration of the progress made in modern wood carving is well worth a visit by those who are interested in ecclesiastical art’ (Ibid. p. 5). The work appears in a list of notable modern screens in Devon (Slader, 1968).
Pillar Casing and Saints – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; 1899-1915
It must be assumed that this piece of bold and accomplished carving was completed within the same time frame as the screen, although it is photographed separately in the PWDRO archive. The figures represent St Peter, St Petrock, and St Michael the Archangel.
Parclose Screen – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; probably 1899-1915
Bench Ends (4) – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; probably 1899-1915
These bench ends are situated in the north chapel and are reproductions of adjacent sixteenth-century ones.
Pulpit – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; 1900
The beautifully carved and highly ornate pulpit was the gift of H.M. Sperling of Combe Trenchard. It was based on the fifteenth-century pulpit at Kenton, which was reconstructed by Bligh Bond with pieces salvaged by Baring-Gould. The pulpit was placed on display in June 1900 at an exhibition of wood carving, antique and modern, at the Royal Hotel in Plymouth (WMN, 1900). The work appears in a list of notable modern pulpits in Devon (Slader, 1968).
Unknown item – Chaytor (1990)
There are several items of modern woodcarving, most of them funded by donations made between 1910 and 1912. The most likely is the carved panel listing the Rectors of Lifton on the wall to the south of the tower but this has not been verified.
Most of the delightful bench ends in this church (1923-26) are the work of Herbert Read of Exeter (Wans, undated).
Chancel Screen – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) unannotated; 1904 and 1907
An unlabelled photograph in PWDRO shows the unmistakable screen at Lydford, with its assymetrical cornice. This wonderful reproduction was designed by Frederick Bligh Bond and, according to him, exhibits detail adapted from the best local screenwork (Bond & Camm, 1909). The Bishop of Exeter dedicated the screen in January 1904 and a newspaper report of the event describes the piece in detail, stating that Miss Pinwill of Plymouth carried out the work (WT, 1904). The screen was given in memory of Daniell Radford J.P. of Tavistock by his family. There was a delay in installing the gates because of a technicality in the Diocesan regulations and they did not materialise until 1907 (Wans, undated). The work appears in a list of notable modern screens in Devon (Slader, 1968).
This was the parish church for previous generations of the Pinwill family when they lived in Salcombe. Andrew Pinwill, great grandfather of the sisters, commemorated his first and second wives in the East window. Many members of the extended family are buried in the churchyard below the window.
Pulpit – Newspaper article (WMN, 1927a) V. Pinwill carver; 1927
The existence of a Pinwill-carved pulpit at Malborough came to light through a newspaper article about its installation in the church. The piece describes the pulpit as ‘Gothic in character and quite simple, which make[s] the elaborately-carved vine cornice and foliated heads of the panels stand out in a very attractive manner’ (p. 6). A photograph of the pulpit was also provided.
Chancel Screen Restoration – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; 1893
This proved to be one of the most successful and prestigious early works of Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co., laying the basis from which other commissions flowed. Prior to restoration, the screen was found to be ‘in a pitiable condition’ (WMN, 1893a p. 8), with many of the oak pins that held it together rotted away. The entire coving had been removed about 100 years before and pieces of the richly carved and gilded cornice fixed to the exposed surface. Much of the original screen, including the early sixteenth-century panels of saints and other polychromy, was used in the restoration, designed by Edmund H. Sedding and completed by May 1893. Both Bond & Camm (1909) and the guide (Manaton, undated) give the date of restoration as 1890, but the work was not assigned to Sedding until November 1891 (TBA, 1891c). Anna Hulbert, who conserved the screen in 1980-82, stated that the screen ‘received a most sensitive restoration’ (part of her report reproduced in the church). The work appears in a list of notable ancient screens with modern vaulting in Devon (Slader, 1968).
Chancel Seats – Chaytor (1990) R. Pinwill carvers; 1893
Parclose Screen Restoration – Chaytor (1990) R. Pinwill carvers; 1893
There are no photographs at PWDRO of the chancel seats and parclose screens at Manaton but they are listed on a handbill for Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co. as work already carried out. They are also mentioned very briefly in a newspaper report of work in hand by Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co. that makes it clear that while the chancel seats were new, the parclose screens were, in November 1893, ‘being restored in their workshop’ (WMN, 1893b p. 5).
Lady Chapel Pillars – Hedges (2005); 1930s
The lead on work at Marldon comes from Ron Dustan who worked for Violet Pinwill in the 1930s. A visit to St John’s revealed that the three pillars and capitals of the part of the arcade between the chancel and what may be thought of as the Lady Chapel were similar but different to the rest of the south arcade. According to HE (Marldon), the south aisle was extended to the east ca 1520 by John Gilbert to form what is known as the Compton Chapel. Most of the south wall of the chancel was removed and the south arcade extended with two narrow bays (i.e. with three pillars) at the same time. The chapel was refurnished and redecorated in 1934 (Marldon, 1996), which at least fits with the period that Ron Dustan remembers. Although there is nothing in the chapel that is directly attributable to V. Pinwill, some work may have been done here. Faculty plans for the work on the chapel in 1934 exist at DHC (PWDRO 2423/4) and may provide further explanation.
Rood Screen and Parclose Screens – Photographs (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5); Chaytor (1990) R. Pinwill carvers; 1894
A plaque adjacent to the rood screen states that it is dedicated to the memory of Sir John Anderson who died in July 1886 and that it was erected by his son the Rector of this parish in 1894. The screen is a reproduction, but Bond & Camm (1909, p. 333) state that it is ‘worthy of note, as it conforms to ancient models’. Edmund H. Sedding was the architect for this work (WMN, 1921) and the rood screen appears in a list of notable modern work in Devon (Slader, 1968). Most of the decorative carving is indeed traditional but Sedding introduced a more modern motif around the two doorways, where distinctly Art Nouveaux tulips grace the borders. Plans for the screen are located at DHC (1626B/P/202-203).
Alterations to Choir Stalls – Chaytor (1990) date unknown
This work was described by Chaytor (1990 p. 67) as ‘extensive alterations to the seating in the choir and east end’. There is, however, little woodcarving of any note and appears to have been more of a rearrangement.
Rood Screen – Photograph (PWDRO 116/37) carver not specified
The photograph of a rood screen in PWDRO 116/37 is annotated ‘Moretenhemsteed?’ but it is in fact the rood screen at St Stephen’s Devonport in Plymouth. The screen at Moretonhampstead was designed by Walter E. Mills and installed in 1904 (Hardiman & Mortimer, undated). It is probably the work of Herbert Read of Exeter, the company that made the rood in 1934.
This is one of only two churches in Devon designed by Edmund H. Sedding, the other being St Peter’s at Shaldon, just a short distance away. Internally, he designed a whole suite of carved furniture and fittings in wood and engaged the skills of V. Pinwill. After he died in 1921, R. F. Wheatly acted as architect, completing the Sedding plans. In terms of the Sedding/Pinwill partnership, it is an extremely important building, being the sole example of their partnership in a new building, although Wheatley undoubtedly stamped his mark on the designs for the woodcarving. This is particularly evident in the semi-kneeling angels on the choir stalls, litany desk and riddel posts, which are quite different from those designed previously by Sedding. Much of the furnishings at St Mary’s was funded by a large bequest (£5,000) in the will of Mrs Elizabeth Clarke (WT, 1922). In gratitude the church established a fund in memory of Mrs Clarke that raised sufficient money to provide a screen at the entrance to the Lady Chapel. This was installed in 1925 and carved for the sum of £70 by, rather ironically, Herbert Read of Exeter (DHC 1323A/PB/257), rather than by Violet Pinwill.
Sound Board – Photograph (PWDRO 244/1, 244/5 & 255/2) Sedding & Wheatly architects, R. Pinwill carver; 1912
Pulpit – Photograph (PWDRO 116/38, 244/4, 244/5 & 244/6) Sedding & Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1912
An inscription on the the pulpit states that it is a memorial to Henry Clarke who died in 1909. This was the husband of Elizabeth Clarke, who provided in her will for much of the rest of the furnishings.
Chancel Screen – Photograph (PWDRO 116/38, 244/1 & 255/2) Sedding & Wheatly architects, R. Pinwill carver; 1922
Litany Desk – Photograph (PWDRO 116/38 & 244/1) R. Pinwill carver; after 1922
The litany desk is a memorial to Jessie Webster who died in 1922.
Credence in Chancel Wall – Plan (CRO AD889/48) Sedding & Wheatly architects; after 1923
Servers’ Desks (2) – Plan (CRO AD889/48) Sedding & Wheatly architects; after 1923
Organ Screen – Plan (CRO AD889/48) Sedding & Wheatly architects; after 1923
Candlesticks (2) – Photograph (PWDRO 244/1) R. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; Plan (CRO AD889/48) Sedding & Wheatly architects; 1924
Riddel Posts – Photograph (PWDRO 244/1) R. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; Plan (CRO AD889/48) Sedding & Wheatly architects; 1924
Reredos – Photograph (PWDRO 116/38, 244/1, 244/4 & 244/6) R. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; Plan (CRO AD889/48) Sedding & Wheatly architects; 1924
What is meant by the reredos includes not only the central panel depicting the nativity but also the panelling either side in which the statues of 18 saints are set on plinths.
Parclose Screens (2) – Photograph (PWDRO 244/1) V. Pinwill carver; 1924
Choir Stalls and Clergy Stalls – Photograph (PWDRO 244/1) R. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; Plan (CRO AD889/48) Sedding & Wheatly architects; 1924
The choir stalls are a memorial to Mabel Eleanor Easton who died in 1921, a gift from her sisters.
Lady Chapel Panelling, Credence, Candlesticks (2) and Altar Rails – Photograph (PWDRO 244/1) carver not specified; Plan (CRO AD889/48) Sedding & Wheatly architects; 1924
A report in the Devon and Exeter Gazette (1924a) records the dedication of the reredos, choir stalls, parclose screens and Lady Chapel fittings. It states that the carving of all the woodwork was carried out by Miss Pinwill of Plymouth.
Altar – Plan (CRO AD889/48) Sedding & Wheatly architects; 1925
Unknown item – Chaytor (1990)
Pulpit – Guide (Peter Tavy, undated) Chaytor (1990) V. Pinwill carver; 1926
The guide attributes most of the modern woodcarving in the church to Herbert Read of Exeter but the pulpit ‘is a small example of the work of Miss Pinwill who was a famous lady carver in Devon and Cornwall in the first half of the twentieth century’ (Ibid. p. 6) and states that it was installed in 1926 as a memorial to Rev. F. J. Bryant, Rector 1879-1907. A faculty for the pulpit, together with clergy desk and seat, exists at DHC (PWDRO 2423/4) and may shed more light on this work.
All Saints parish was formed from that of St Peter’s in 1875. The church was designed by Plymouth-based architect, James Hine, and built in several stages. It was damaged in the Plymouth blitz (Twyford, 2005) but then restored. By 1979, however, a dwindling congregation and poor repair led to a recommendation for redundancy (Luscombe, 2015). Before this could be properly examined, the church was severely damaged by a storm, leading to its immediate closure, and eventually to demolition in 1985. A clergy house, built in 1887 and designed by John Dando Sedding, is now apartments but still remains ‘remarkably original and impressive’ (Cherry & Pevsner, 2004 p. 674). His nephew, Edmund H. Sedding was later responsible for the design of parish rooms and a school in 1892 that have not survived.
Cross and Candlesticks (2) – Photograph (PWDRO 116/3) V. Pinwill carver; 1939
A faculty for a cross with risen Christ, as shown in the photograph, and two Candlesticks was granted in 1939 (PWDRO 1629/14).
Charles (not Charles the Martyr) Church was destroyed during the blitz of Plymouth on the night of March 21st 1941 (Twyford, 2005) and remains as a shell in memory of the 1,200 civilian dead of Plymouth. It is likely that Violet Pinwill carved more items for Charles Church than is represented below.
Reredos – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4) carver not specified; 1914
The lack of any annotations to this photograph meant that the whereabouts of this reredos remained a mystery for some time. However, a file of photographs held in the History Room at Plymouth Library contains one of the interior of Charles Church in which the reredos is clearly recognisable. It dates from the restoration of 1914 (Graham Naylor, Senior Librarian, Plymouth Library Service, pers. comm.).
Font Cover – Photograph (PWDRO 116/4) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill, carver; 1940
A newspaper report describes how this ‘beautiful and unusual’ font cover, given in memory of Douglass James and his wife, was dedicated on 24 April 1940 (WMN, 1940a p. 3), just less than a year before the church was destroyed.
Emmanuel was the chosen church of Hubert Minchinton, for many years a senior carver to Violet Pinwill. So, as one might expect, there is quite a lot of Pinwill carving in the church. Only some of it is represented in the albums at PWDRO, but a church inventory made after 1921 lists other items.
Memorial Chapel Altar, Reredos and Screen – Photograph (PWDRO 116/6 & 244/2) V. Pinwill carver; 1919
A faculty petition was submitted in 1919 for the memorial chapel altar, reredos and entrance screen that includes plans for each piece by architects Sedding & Stallybrass (DHC Faculty PE4) but only the altar and reredos are represented in photographs at PWDRO. Interestingly, a plan exists at CRO for the altar and reredos in a highly coloured design (CRO X272/87/6), which must have been rejected, as the pieces are left plain. A newspaper report in the Western Morning News states that the carving of the memorial screen was also the work of the Pinwill company (WMN, 1919). The chapel is a memorial to 2nd Lieut. Edward Arthur Jago (died 1916) and Captain Henry Harris Jago (died 1918) and their initials and military details are carved on the cornice of the screen.
Vicar’s Stall – Inventory (PWDRO 1429/64) R. Pinwill carver; 1925
The inventory for Emmanuel lists a vicar’s stall of carved oak in memory of Revd George Benton Berry, Vicar 1879 to 1912, carved by Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co. and costing £68. It was dedicated in 1925.
Chair (2) – Photograph (PWDRO 116/116) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
An unannotated photograph of a rather plain sanctuary chair, with only the shape of a Celtic cross as part of the back support, was identified on a visit to Emmanuel in February 2012 as one of a pair sitting behind the desks below.
Litany Desk (2) – Photograph (PWDRO 116/6) V. Pinwill carver; Inventory (PWDRO 1429/64) Miss Pinwill carver; 1933
The inventory for Emmanuel states that these two oak litany desks were given in memory of Gower Alfred Hardy and carved by Miss Pinwill at a cost of £38. They were dedicated in 1933.
Reredos and Panelling (East Wall) – Inventory (PWDRO 1429/64) V. Pinwill carver; 1949
The oak reredos and the panelling on the east wall are listed in the inventory for Emmanuel as being a gift in memory of Melville Conrad Percival Holmes, RAF fighter pilot killed in the Battle of Britain in 1944. It was the work of V. Pinwill and cost £610. A newspaper article (WMN, 1948) reports that a design for the new reredos and panelling by V. Pinwill had been accepted by the PCC. This work was dedicated in 1949, together with the panelling below (WMN, 1949a).
Sanctuary Panelling (N and S walls) – Inventory (PWDRO 1429/64) V. Pinwill carver; 1949
The inventory for Emmanuel states that this oak panelling was given in memory of Russell Winnicott, killed in action in 1917, and Robert Reginald Winnicott, who died at Dieppe in 1942. It was executed by V. Pinwill and cost £292 7s 5d. This work was dedicated in 1949, together with the panelling above (WMN, 1949a).
Altar – Inventory (PWDRO 1429/64) V. Pinwill carver; probably 1950
According to the inventory for Emmanuel, parts of the previous altar were incorporated into this new larger one, which was given in memory of Jessie Beatrice Mallord Turner who died in 1944. This must have allowed for considerable savings, as the work carried out by V. Pinwill cost only £65. The inventory gives the date for all the sanctuary furnishings as 1949-50, although all the panelling and the reredos were completed by May 1949 (WMN, 1949a), so that the date of 1950 must apply to the altar.
Lectern – Newspaper article (CT, 1954) V. Pinwill carver; 1954
A small piece in the Church Times reported in January 1954 that a lectern carved by Miss Pinwill was dedicated at Emmanuel church in memory of Miss Dallas (died 1952), for many years the headmistress of Moorfield Girls’ School in Seymour Road.
St Andrew’s church suffered two successive nights of bombing in March 1941 and lost all internal furniture and fittings, except the valuable plate (Twyford, 2005). It is likely that Violet Pinwill created many more woodcarvings for St Andrew’s than is represented below.
Credence Table, Sanctuary Desk and Sanctuary Table – Photograph (PWDRO 116/9) A. Southcombe Parker architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1938
During 1938 Miss Charlton gave the credence table in memory of Miss Bennett, and Miss Burridge presented a new chair and desk for the sanctuary in memory of her parents (J. Spence, church historian, pers. comm.).
Cornice for North Screen – Photograph (PWDRO 116/9) A. Southcombe Parker architect, V. Pinwill carver; probably ca 1938
The photograph in PWDRO 116/9 shows only four running ornaments and not the complete cornice. It was probably made at about the same time as the items above (J. Spence, church historian, pers. comm.).
Figure of the Christ Child – Chaytor (1991); after 1933
This figure of the Christ child is mentioned by Chaytor (1990) and is identical to the one depicted in PWDRO 244/2 for St Ives, Cornwall, apart from the colouring of the robe. Unfortunately, the figure is described in the guide (Plymouth St Andrew, undated) as that of a girl, because of its association with Busy Bees, a local independent girls’ school. The school may well have donated the statue, as part of the creation of a children’s corner in 1933 (J. Spence, church historian, pers. comm.), since their symbol of a bee is carved on the base. At the unveiling of the children’s corner by the Bishop of Exeter in November 1933, it consisted of an oak screen with eleven panels for memorial pictures (WMN, 1933a). There were several promises of pictures and other gifts, which may have included the figure of the Christ child.
Choir Stall Ends (2) and Desk Ends (2) – Photograph (PWDRO 116/19 & 244/2) V. Pinwill carver; after 1925
There are two sets of choir stalls in St Andrew’s church of different design and makers. The outer ones were donated in 1939 in memory of Preb. S. G. Ponsonbury, former Rector of Stoke Damerel, and were made by Messrs Whippell of Exeter (WMN, 1939a). The stall and desk ends of the inner set on the south side are illustrated in the Pinwill photographs at PWDRO. The corresponding seat and desk ends on the north side are almost identical in design but bear no inscriptions. The stalls and desks themselves do not appear to be Pinwill, being rather plain and of a different type of wood. The Pinwill stall and desk ends are in memory of John Henry Collier Coode, Colonel Black Watch (died 1899 Boer War), Frederick Trevenen Coode, Indian Police (died 1918 India), and Montgomery Penrose Coode, India Public Works Department (died 1925 Penlee Gardens, Devonport), all sons of John Penrose Coode and Emily Sarah Collier, who married at Stoke Damerel church in 1852.
Litany Desk – Photograph (PWDRO 116/19) V. Pinwill carver; 1950
The beautiful carving on one side of this litany desk is of St Andrew holding in his right hand the X-shaped cross with which he is most commonly associated. In his left hand are two fish that probably represent Andrew’s part in the feeding of the five thousand. It is inscribed with the words ‘The Gift of Humphrey Woollcombe May 1950’ and so represents an important late piece of work by V. Pinwill.
St Augustine’s in Alexandra Road, Lipson, consecrated in 1904, was badly damaged by a bomb in 1943, although some furnishings were undamaged and returned to the church when it was restored in 1954 (lostplymouthchurches). It was demolished in October 2001 to make way for student accommodation.
Lady Chapel Altar – Cherry & Pevsner (2004) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
Cherry & Pevsner (2004) is the only source for this item, stating that it was carved by V. Pinwell (sic). Plans for an altar and reredos exist at CRO (AD889/53) and at DHC there is a faculty dated 1943 for a reredos to add to an existing altar, all of which require further investigation.
In 1957 the church of St Chad was rededicated as St Lo when the Admiralty decided to restore the building and bring it within Devonport Dockyard (plymouthdata).
Hanging Sign and Figure of St Chad – Photographs (PWDRO 116/10) V. Pinwill carver; 1934
On 20 September 1934, the Bishop of Nassau dedicated the new hanging sign and figure of St Chad outside the church (WMN, 1934a). The whereabouts of these items is unknown.
St Christopher’s in Crownhill Road was built as a temporary church around 1939 but sometime after 1951 it was amalgamated with the Garrison Church of St Alban, which closed in 1971 (plymouthdata).
Stand and Stoup – Photograph (PWDRO 116/11) V. Pinwill carver; after 1939
This charming four-legged stand for a holy water stoup may have gone to St Alban’s church but its current whereabouts are unknown.
This ancient church has a range of modern fittings by several different woodcarvers, including Harry Hems of Exeter and James B. Hunt of Plymouth, as well as Violet Pinwill.
Pulpit – Newspaper article (WMN, 1906a) Misses Pinwill carvers; 1906
This elaborate pulpit, featuring panels depicting symbols of the four evangelists and uprights carved with foliage and birds, was a gift in memory of Benjamin Butland, churchwarden for 38 years. It was dedicated on 27 November 1906.
Memorial Chapel Altar Rail – Photograph (PWDRO 116/5) V. Pinwill carver; 1940
The guide (Whatty, undated) states that this altar rail was dedicated on 21 July 1940 and was the gift of Stanley Williams in memory of his wife Gwendoline. The rail is made of chestnut and has a typical Pinwill kneeling angel at each end. On a visit in October 2013 it was found that the angels’ wings were broken.
Bench Ends – Guide (Whatty, undated) Pinwill sisters (sic); 1930s
The guide attributes these bench ends to the Pinwill sisters but in PWDRO 784/49 are two photographs depicting five of them and they are clearly marked ‘Harry Hems and Sons, sculptors, Exeter’. In addition, newspaper reports in June and December 1930 (WMN, 1930a & 1930b) state that the new bench ends were made by Harry Hems and Sons of Exeter.
The church of St Francis at Honicknowle was built in 1939 and designed by Seely and Paget (WMN, 1939b), who are better known for much more prestigious work, such as Eltham Court. They also designed some of the church furnishings, which a newspaper article described as being ‘in the modern very severe style... largely dependent on the markings of the grain for decoration’ (WMN, 1939c p. 3). More of the church furnishings may have been designed by Seely and Paget and carved by V. Pinwill than is listed here.
Stand and Stoup – Photograph (PWDRO 244/6) J. Seeley and P. Paget architects, V. Pinwill carver; 1939
The oak stand is no longer used to hold a stoup but serves as the base for a statue of the Madonna and child.
Lectern – Photograph (PWDRO 244/6) J. Seeley and P. Paget architects, V. Pinwill carver; 1939
Clergy Stall – Photograph (PWDRO 244/6) J. Seeley and P. Paget architects, V. Pinwill carver; 1939
The clergy stall was destroyed and placed in a skip during the incumbency of a previous Vicar, who decided it was no longer needed.
St Gabriel’s was designed by the architect W. D. Caröe and dedicated as a chapel of ease to St Pancras, Pennycross, in 1910 (Plymouth St Gabriel, 1978). It features some notable stained glass: a war memorial in the south aisle by Kempe & Co. from 1918 and above the chancel arch a series of five figures by Duncan Dearle of Morris & Co., installed in 1948.
Angels for Riddel Posts (4) – Photograph (PWDRO 244/1) V. Pinwill carver; ca 1925
These four semi-kneeling angels sit atop the riddel posts around the high altar holding sconces for candles. They date from around 1925 (Albert Jeffry, churchwarden, pers. comm.).
Reredos Panels – Photograph (PWDRO 116/13) V. Pinwill carver; 1947
The figures of Gabriel and the Virgin Mary are carved in low relief and coloured and gilded against a background of plain oak. According to the faculty, they were inserted into an existing reredos installed in 1930 (PWDRO 596/66). At this late stage in the history of the Pinwill company, when no architects were involved, the design must be Violet’s work. It is based on the painting of The Annunciation by Fillippo Lippi (1406-69) held by the National Gallery (WMN, 1947a). These beautifully designed and executed panels were the gift of Sir William Munday in 1947 as a memorial to Lady Munday.
St George’s church at Stonehouse was badly damaged by bombing in 1941 (Twyford, 2005) and demolished in 1957 (plymouthdata). Some of the stone was used to build the Lady Chapel at St Gabriel’s church in Peverell (Plymouth St Gabriel, 1978).
Reredos – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4) no carver specified; date unknown
An inscription states that the reredos was a gift in memory of Richard Rodd, solicitor and his son Richard Robinson Rodd, coroner for Devon, and both of East Stonehouse, but no dates are provided.
Altar – Photograph (PWDRO 116/14) V. Pinwill carver; 1933
A newspaper article (WMN, 1933b) reported that a faculty had been obtained for the altar, the gift of the Vicar Rev. A. T. Allwork in memory of his wife. The inscription names her as Doreen Allwork, who died in January 1933.
The church of St James the Great was damaged by bombing raids in April 1941 and was never rebuilt (lostplymouthchurches). It was eventually demolished in 1958.
Unknown item – Chaytor (1990)
St James the Less was begun in 1860 to the designs of J. P. St Aubyn (lostplymouthchurches). In 1884 the chancel was magnificently beatified under the architect T. Rogers Kitsell (PWDRO 3670) to become one of the most highly adorned churches in Plymouth and a bastion of Anglo-Catholicism. As well as designing the work below, Edmund H. Sedding carried out alterations to the Lady Chapel in 1902 (DHC Faculty StJ3). The church was destroyed in the blitz of March 1941 (Twyford, 2005) and another church of the same name was built at Ham Drive, but not until 1956 (Cherry & Pevsner, 2004).
Screen – Newspaper article (WMN, 1892) E. Sedding architect, R. Pinwill carver; 1892
This church is listed in Chaytor (1990) as having work by the Pinwill company, but no further clues are given. A report in the Western Morning News provides more information:
One bay of a new screen has been fixed in St. James-the-Less Church, Plymouth, the gift of the vicar, having been designed by Mr. Edmund Sedding and executed by Rashleigh, Pinwill, & Co.; it will now be decorated by Fouracre & Son, Stonehouse (WMN, 1892 p. 5).
A plan for a 12 ft ‘Side Screen’ exists at DHC (1626B/P/153) dated September 1891, which implies that this may have been among the first commissions Sedding attracted after setting up his practice in Plymouth. Interestingly, this is the only occasion when a screen designed by Sedding and executed by the Pinwills is known to have been decorated (i.e. painted). This work was carried out by Plymouth’s foremost stained glass makers, with whom Violet Pinwill later collaborated.
Font Cover – HE (Plymouth St John) Pinwill sisters carvers; probably 1911
The HE listing for St John the Evangelist states that the font cover was carved by the Pinwell (sic) sisters, while Cherry & Pevsner (2004) give 1911 for the font, which probably means that the cover is of the same date.
Rood – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) no carver specified; date unknown
Instead of a screen for the support of a rood, this crucifixion group hangs magnificently in mid-air, suspended by ropes. The church maintains that the figures were carved in Oberammergau (Keith Haydon, Priest in Charge, pers. comm.), but the frame and base pictured in PWDRO 244/5 are Pinwill work.
Lady Chapel Altar – Phillip Mitchell (pers. comm.) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
An old guide states that the Lady Chapel altar was carved by V. Pinwill (Phillip Mitchell, church treasurer, pers. comm.). This part of the church was almost destroyed by bombing in 1941 but the altar survived and HE states that the chapel was rebuilt in 1955.
St John’s church is part of a group of buildings, including school and schoolmaster’s house, designed by William White and built 1854-55 (Cherry & Pevsner, 2004). Edmund H. Sedding was commissioned to carry out work here, including a war memorial cross in grey Cornish granite for the churchyard (DHC 1626B/P/174).
Chancel Roof Decoration – Plan (DHC 1626B/P/173) Sedding & Wheatly architects; 1911-14
Designs exist for a new decorated chancel roof with carved corbels, bosses and beams. These decorations may well have been carried out by the Pinwill workshop an further research is required.
Altar – Plan (DHC 1626B/P/175) Sedding & Stallybrass architects; after 1914
A design for a new altar in ‘oak painted and gilded’ includes a beautifully coloured front elevation as well as an annotation for ‘Mouldings to be rich red, and green: fillets white; all carvings gilt: Background, panels etc fumed dark oak.’ The plan and description matches the altar now in the church, aside from some colour changes, and could have been carved by the Pinwill company. A faculty may, at some stage, come to light to confirm or otherwise.
Panelling – Cherry & Pevsner (2004) V. Pinwill carver; 1916
Cherry & Pevsner (2004) state that the nave of St John’s was ‘cosified’ by linenfold panelling by Violet Pinwell (sic) in 1916. The date is verified by the existence of a faculty to pave the nave walls with oak (PWDRO 724/78).
Children’s Corner – Plan (PWDRO 724/68) Drawing and Bill (PWDRO 724/71) V. Pinwill designer and carver; 1944
A figure of the Christ child, identical to the one depicted in PWDRO 244/2 for St Ives, Cornwall, apart from the colouring, was discovered next to the main altar while inspecting the panelling listed above. It transpired that it was once part of a children’s corner in the SW of the church designed and carved by Violet Pinwill in 1944 (PWDRO 724/68). A plan of the children’s corner by Violet, dated May 1944, shows that at this later stage in the company’s history she was carrying out much of the design work herself. Affixed to the plan is a photograph of the Christ child made for Beneden in Kent (PWDRO 116/96) some 20 years previously, to illustrate the intended figure. Also deposited at PWDRO (724/71) is a painted drawing of the children’s corner, with suggestions for furniture. With the drawing is a bill, dated October 1944, listing the work carried by both V. Pinwill and Messrs Pearn, who stained the floor, made the pedestal and fixed the figure in place. The total came to £44 15s 8d, of which £17 was for carving and painting the Christ child and the cost of the oak. A further 12s was for its carriage to the church by taxi!
The figure has suffered badly from being repainted at some stage and has peeling paint on the robe, dark skin and hair, and black staring eyes, and is not at all the appealing figure it was designed to be. There are plans to renovate the figure but the question of whether it is restored to its original blond-haired, blue-eyed state is, of course, highly contentious.
Hymn Board – Photograph (PWDRO 116/15) V. Pinwill carver; 1940
This hymn board was given in 1940 in memory of Thomas K. Bailey, sidesman and leader of the men’s Bible class for many years, by his wife and children, although it did not seem to be in use in the church during a visit in December 2011.
Font Cover – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) no carver specified; probably 1895
This elaborately carved font cover may be contemporary with the font, for which a faculty exists at DHC (PWDRO 2423/4).
The building work on St Mary’s began in 1907 and by 1914 it was almost complete but lack of funding left it without a permanent west wall and an unfinished SE tower to this day. Cherry & Pevsner (2004) remark on the excellent interior stone and woodcarving work of J.B. Hunt of Plymouth (see entry for Plymouth: St Simon, Mount Gould).
South Chapel Altar – Photograph (PWDRO 116/16, 244/2 & 244/6) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
South Chapel Reredos – Photograph (PWDRO 116/16) V. Pinwill carver; after 1926
An old guide (Camp, 1964) confirms that the reredos in the south chapel was designed and executed by Miss Pinwill. It is in memory of Cecil Theodore Baker Pike who died in 1926. The panelling either side of the reredos, which was added at a later date to form a war memorial, may also be the work of V. Pinwill. However, even though it echoes the design of the reredos, there are some marked deviations that suggest it may be the work of another carver.
South Chapel Altar Rails – Plan (CRO AD889/51) R. F. Wheatly architect; after 1926
A plan exists at CRO for altar rails in the south chapel, which appear contemporaneous with the reredos and altar above, and can be justifiably assumed to have been carved by V. Pinwill.
Litany Desk – Photograph (PWDRO 116/16, 244/3) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
This item is no longer in the church (Keith Haydon, Priest in Charge, pers. comm.).
Nave Desks (2) – no documentary evidence; date unknown
At the front of the south aisle are two nave desks that are in themselves rather basic and plain. However, one bears a pair of angels and the other a pair of doves that are almost identical to Pinwill ones found elsewhere. The desks may have been made rather inexpensively but embellished with ‘spare’ ornamentation.
Figure of the Christ Child – Guide (Camp, 1964) Miss Pinwill carver; after 1933
This figure is identical to others described elsewehere. The guide states that the children’s corner (i.e. the figure and the surrounding panelling) is the work of Miss Pinwill. The figure is now enclosed by a small kitchen and, very unfortunately, some of the support for the worktop is screwed across the panel that bears the dedication. It commemorates Phyllis Hunt, who was involved with the Girl Guides at the church and died in 1933.
Churchwardens’ Staves (2) – Newspaper article (WMN, 1939d) V. Pinwill carver; 1939
The Western Morning News reported that two Churchwardens’ Staves of carved oak, designed and executed by Miss V. Pinwill, were dedicated by the Bishop of Exeter on his first visit to St Mary’s on 15 October 1939. They were given to the church in memory of Mr J. Mason, people’s warden for 13 years, who had died about nine months previously. No other documentary evidence for these staves has been discovered.
Edmund H. Sedding appears to have been engaged to complete the refurbishment of the chancel, begun by his uncle John Dando Sedding with the installation of an ornate reredos in 1886 (Cherry & Pevsner, 2004).
Choir Stalls – Photograph (PWDRO 116/7, 244/3 & 244/5) E. H. Sedding architect; R. Pinwill carvers; 1898
These beautifully designed and carved choir stalls are dedicated to Harriet Sophia, Countess of Morley, who died in 1897 and were given to the church in 1898 by her son. A faculty exists at DHC dated 1898 for alterations to chancel furnishings (PWDRO 2423/4).
Parclose Screens (2) – Photograph (PWDRO 116/7 & 244/3) R. Pinwill carver; 1907
In January 1907 it was announced in the Western Morning News that the two parclose screens to be erected in Plympton St Mary church in memory of the late Earl of Morley were to be carried out by ‘the Misses Rashleigh Pinwill, of Plymouth’ (WMN, 1907a p. 6). The screens were completed by November and a further newspaper report stated that one of two ‘richly-carved oak parclose screens’ (WMN, 1907b p. 8) was on view in Harris and Sons’ Galleries, George Street, Plymouth, for the next few days. The work had been carried out from designs by Edmund Sedding and a full description of the screen was provided. They were given in memory of Albert Edmund, 3rd Earl of Morley, who died in 1905, by his son Edmund Robert. Designs for the screens exist at DHC (1626B/P/167-168).
Altar Rails – Photograph (PWDRO 116/107) R. Pinwill carver; 1910
These highly ornate altar rails were also placed on display at Harris and Sons’ Galleries for the public to view (WMN, 1910). They had been commissioned by the Earl of Morley as a memorial to his mother Margaret, Countess of Morley, who died in 1908. The report states that the altar rails were designed by Mr E. Sedding and that the preparatory models were made by Mr F. Shelley, art master of Plymouth Technical School. The carving was the work of ‘Rashleigh Pinwill, of Plymouth, whose interpretation of the characteristics of style in the design and refined workmanship are worthy of all praise’ (Ibid. p. 5).
Front Rails North Chapel – Photograph (PWDRO 244/3) V. Pinwill carver; after 1928
These memorial rails are dedicated to Charles William Hartley Luard of Priory Mount, Plympton, who died in 1928 aged 13 at Hawtreys School, Westgate-on-Sea, Kent (TNA Probate 1928).
Extension to Altar Rails – Newspaper article (WMN, 1947b) V. Pinwill carver; 1947
A small report in the Western Morning News is the source for this piece of work. It relates that, to meet the requests of a large number of communicants, the altar rails had been extended. The addition was ‘carved very skilfully by Miss Pinwill so as to be an exact replica of the existing work’ (Ibid. p. 3).
Violet Pinwill lived at Queen Anne Terrace and worshipped at St Matthias, a few hundred yards further up Tavistock Road (Newspaper article, 1957). Panelling around the sanctuary was erected as a WWI memorial and plans exist for such work at DHC (1626/B/P154) by Sedding & Stallybrass, although they do not represent what was erected.
Litany Desks (3) – Photograph (PWDRO 116/17) A. Southcombe Parker architect, V. Pinwill carver; after 1940 (2) and 1945 (1)
Only one of three litany desks is shown in the photograph in PWDRO but the other two are very similar in design. They are all memorials to parishioners: one to Benjamin Tredwin, (died 1940), another to Ellen Mary Bright (died 1940), and the third to choristers who lost their lives in the 1939-45 war, namely M.A. Creber, A.H.D. Day, W.H. Kent, F.H. Stitson and R.H. Woolcock. A faculty for a litany desk dated 1940 exists at DHC (PWDRO 2423/4).
Chapel, Children’s Corner and Baptistery – Newspaper article (1957) V. Pinwill carver; plan (CRO AD889/56) Cowell, Drewitt & Wheatly architects; 1948
There is evidence that V. Pinwill was responsible for a font cover, some panelling and a children’s corner at St Matthias, as these are items specified in a newspaper obituary (1957). The existence of plans dated 1948 at CRO for a chapel, children’s corner and baptistery by Wheatly’s firm of architects tends to support this and more of the work carried out at that time may be attributable.
Sanctuary Chairs (2) – Photograph (PWDRO 116/8 & 244/5) V. Pinwill carver; after 1930
This pair of servers’ sanctuary chairs is dedicated to John Edward Phillips who died in 1930 aged 23.
Lectern – Photograph (PWDRO 116/8) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; after 1944
The lectern, which features a statue of St Luke, is dedicated to Ernest Howard who died in 1944.
Unknown item – Chaytor (1990)
The list of churches in Chaytor (1990 p. 68) in which Pinwill work is to be found includes ‘St Michael’s’, which may mean St Michael, Devonport, but could also refer to St Michael, West Hoe. The first church of St Michael, Devonport, was built in 1843 and destroyed by bombing in 1941 (Twyford, 2005). It was replaced by a new church opened in 1953 but was later demolished and a third church built on the site in 2009 (achurchnearyou.com 1). This implies that any item made by V. Pinwill would have either been lost in 1941 or replaced in the later refurbishments. St Michael, West Hoe, was originally a mission church of St James the Less in Citadel Road. When Father Maurice Child became Curate of St James in 1912, he oversaw the refurbishment of St Michael in the Baroque style, which became an expression of a renewed assertion of Anglo-Catholicism (Yelton, 2005). The church was later replaced by a permanent building and the furnishings renewed. It was declared redundant in about 1995 and is now a Greek Orthodox Church.
Chancel Screen – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5); V. Pinwill carver; 1907
A photograph annotated ‘Chancel Screen Pennycross Ch’ appears in the album presented by Violet Pinwill to chief carver Hubert Minchinton on his retirement in the early 1950s (Kitty Green, granddaughter, pers. comm.). The same photograph in an album at PWDRO is labelled ‘Penny com quick Ch’ but this appears to be wrong. The screen is dedicated to Laura Elizabeth Hawker who died in 1906 and lived at Burleigh, near Pennycross Church (TNA Plymouth 1901). A faculty was obtained for the installation of a chancel screen at St Pancras in 1907 (PWDRO 593/66). However, the screen is no longer in the church; it was said to have been removed during reordering and taken to a church in North Devon (C. McGowan, churchwarden, pers. comm.). It was later discovered to be in St Mary’s at Uffculme, installed in 1986 as a parclose screen (Cherry & Pevsner, 2004).
The church of St Paul at Morice Square, Devonport, begun in 1849, was designed by James Piers St Aubyn (devonportonline). It was badly damaged in WWII and eventually demolished in 1958.
Lectern – Journal article (TBA, 1891a) E. Sedding designer, R. Pinwill carver; 1891
Some important early work by Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co. is not recorded in the photographs at PWDRO, including this piece. Fortunately, it is described in The British Architect as ‘a new oak lectern... executed by Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co., of Plymouth, from designs by Mr. Edmund Sedding’ (TBA, 1891a p. 502).
The church of St Peter in Wyndham Square was gutted by fire on 21 April 1941 (Twyford, 2005) and later restored, so that any work by V. Pinwill made before then was destroyed.
Tabernacle Top – Photograph (PWDRO 244/6) A. Southcombe Parker architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1938
The photograph in PWDRO shows a carved and gilded four-sided cover for a tabernacle. In early 1938 A. Southcombe Parker and V. Pinwill submitted separate bills for their respective work in the design and production of the piece, with the former amounting to £2 12s 6d and the latter £11 (PWDRO 849/27). After it was destroyed in the fire only three years later, a claim was made by the church to the War Office for, among many other items, a ‘Tabernacle Carved Top’ valued at £13 12s 6d (PWDRO 849/19).
Lady Chapel Stalls – Bills (PWDRO 849/27) A. Southcombe Parker architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1940
The bills for these stalls, for which no description or photographs is known, were presented by A. Southcombe Parker to the church in March 1940. He sent his own bill for the design work at £4 10s 0d and also forwarded one from V. Pinwill that came to £32 12s 0d.
Christmas Crib – Letters (PWDRO 849/27) V. Pinwill carver; 1940
The evidence for this work comes solely from letters sent by Violet Pinwill to Prebentary Harvey at St Peter’s in August and September 1941, after the disasterous fire. While she commiserated with the plight of the church, Violet stressed that the work done at Christmas on the crib had cost her a considerable amount, with an outlay in materials and wages of £21 19s 3d without any other costs for overheads or her time. She hoped that the church may be able to find the money to pay her bill, perhaps from a private donor, and that the work had not been destroyed. Prebentary Harvey’s reply is not recorded, but Violet felt compelled to send a further letter reiterating the costs to her of carrying out the work, hoping for at least a part payment, but recognising that it must be a very difficult time for the church. There is no further correspondence to show whether or not Violet was paid for the crib.
This church was built around 1850 but is no longer open for worship.
Credence Table – Plan (DHC 1626B/P/155)
A design for a credence table for St Saviour’s church is included with plans by E.H. Sedding at DHC. It may have been carved by the Pinwill company, if it was indeed commissioned.
The church of St Simon was consecrated in 1907 and is the only complete church designed by the architect Harbottle Reed of Exeter (HE, Plymouth St Simon). Hubert Minchinton, woodcarver with Violet Pinwill until his retirement in the early 1950s, lived nearby, although he often chose to worship elsewhere. Probably because of this association, many items within the church are misattributed to the Pinwill company. Initially, the only documentary source for Pinwill work was Cherry & Pevsner (2004 p. 645), where it states ‘Rich chancel furnishings with Pinwell [sic] woodwork’. Further, more detailed, information came to light by extensive searches of copies of the St Simon’s Parish Magazine held at PWDRO and of newspaper reports of the dedication of the furnishings and fittings. This revealed that the only the two pieces of work listed below are attributable to Violet Pinwill. The rest of the woodcarving, particularly the ‘rich chancel furnishings’, is either definitely or probably by James B. Hunt of Plymouth, who often worked with Harbottle Reed. Unfortunately, when English Heritage (later Historic England) designated St Simon’s a Grade II Listed Building in July 2014, the reasons included ‘its early C20 furnishings, including the suite of furnishings by the Pinwill sisters’. After considering the evidence set out below, showing that the furnishings concerned were not made by the Pinwills but by James B. Hunt, Historic England agreed to amend the list entry.
Altar Rail Gates – Parish Magazine (PWDRO 2711/96) Miss Pinwill; 1939
In June 1938 it was decided to commission a pair of gates to sit between the existing altar rails as a memorial to Mrs Shuker. Intriguingly, the faculty petition contains a plan of the proposed gates drawn up by the architect Harbottle Reed (DHC Faculty PStS1-8), whose preferred carver James B. Hunt died in August 1938 (WMN, 1938a). After the faculty was granted in December, a tender by ‘Miss Pinwill’ was accepted and the gates made and finally dedicated in March 1939 (PWDRO 2711/96). The gates are subtly different from the rails, such as in the profile of the top, which would suggest the original rails were not made by V. Pinwill.
Nave Desk – Plan (PWDRO 2711/58) V. Pinwill; after 1944
A rough sketch plan by Violet Pinwill exists for this item of furniture, together with an estimate of £75 for one desk, and proportionately less for two or four (PWDRO 2711/58). The covering letter suggests that the cost would be reduced if they were made out of chestnut rather than oak and if the carved borders were omitted. These were difficult times financially for many churches, and the nave desk currently in the church is very plain and not made from oak.
Reredos, Panelling (E&S), Lectern, Angels in Sanctuary, Choir Stalls, Clergy Stalls and Font Cover – Parish Magazine (PWDRO 2711/92, 2711/95, 2711/96) Harbottle Reed architect, James B. Hunt carver; 1923-37
In February 1923 the Parish Magazine reported that the cost of the reredos and panelling was £593 11s 6d but it gave no indication of who might have made them. However, in June 1924 the sum of £115 was paid to James B. Hunt for the lectern (PWDRO 2711/92) and a newspaper account of its dedication states that the woodcarving was carried out by him (DEG, 1924b). The angels on top of the sanctuary panelling, given in 1931 (PWDRO 2711/203), are very similar to the ones on the choir stalls. Between 1934 and 1935, J.B. Hunt was paid £261 19s for making the choir stalls in three stages (PWDRO 2711/95). A newspaper report on the dedication of these stalls in September 1934 also states that J.B. Hunt carried out the work (WMN, 1934b). The issue of the clergy stalls is less clear but in March 1937 it was reported that completion of the second stall was delayed by the illness of Mr Hunt (PWDRO 2711/96), so one must assume it was he who was responsible for the entire work. The font cover was commissioned in August 1936 at a cost of £96 16s per an estimate from J.B. Hunt (PWDRO 2711/95) and was dedicated in July 1937 (PWDRO 2711/96).
WWII Memorial – no documentary evidence; 1948
In July 1948 it was decided that a WWII memorial would take the form of oak panelling on the north wall of the sanctuary, similar to that on the south wall for WWI (PWDRO 2711/100). Since J.B. Hunt died in 1938 (WMN, 1938a), he could not have done this work and it is conceivable that it was carried out by Violet Pinwill, although there is no real evidence for this.
The church of St Stephen in Devonport was another victim of the Plymouth blitz and was gutted in 1941, though the shell remained standing until 1959 (plymouthdata). It was thought to be one of the most beautiful churches in Plymouth and was of the Anglo-Catholic tradition (lostplymouthchurches). Sedding certainly carried out more work at St Stephen’s than is listed below, such as an alabaster and polyphant altar for the crypt (DRO 1626B/P/164), but it may or may not have been carved by the Pinwill company.
Rood Screen and Rood – Photograph (PWDRO 116/18 and 244/5) V. Pinwill carver; 1904
The screen and rood were installed in the church in 1904 (Graham Naylor, Senior Librarian, Plymouth Library Service, pers. comm.) and were designed by Edmund H. Sedding (WMN, 1921a).
Pillar Panelling and Figure of St Stephen – Photograph (PWDRO 116/18 and 244/5) V. Pinwill carver; 1911-1914
Sometime after the installation of the rood screen and rood, the stone pillar to the south was enclosed in elaborate panelling (PWDRO 244/5) to house a large figure of St Stephen (PWDRO 116/18). The figure is almost identical to a smaller one made later for Truro Cathedral (PWDRO 244/2). The panelling appears to have four further niches for additional figures. A disintegrating drawing of the panelling and figure exists at DHC (1626B/P/162), labelled as being the work of Sedding & Wheatly, which places it in the period 1911-1914 when this partnership was in place.
Sound Board – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) V. Pinwill carver; after 1913
This photograph shows the pulpit below the sound board but the annotation only notes the latter. The pulpit, which is quite a different style, was installed in 1913 (Graham Naylor, Senior Librarian, Plymouth Library, pers. comm.) and so the sound board is probably after that date. An inscription on the sound board could read ‘MCMXVII’ denoting 1917 but the image is too unclear to be sure.
This is the only non-Anglican church for which Violet Pinwill created pieces of work. The exception probably occurred because the church was almost opposite where Violet lived in Queen Anne Terrace on North Hill and she may well have known people who worshipped there. The evidence is included with plans by Edmund H. Sedding (DHC 1626B/P/199-201) but the drawings are clearly her work. One is of both the items below and is annotated ‘Note these sketches are not meant to be designs V. Pinwill’. Sherwell Church is now part of Plymouth University and whether these items have been removed to the hall next door, now used for worship, is not known.
Altar Table – Plans (DHC 1626B/P/199-200) V. Pinwill designer and carver; date unknown
The drawing shows a simple table decorated only with carvings of leaves on panels below the apron at the front and sides.
Lectern – Plans (DHC 1626B/P/199 & 201) V. Pinwill designer and carver; date unknown
This is again of a rather plain design with a single ring of acanthus leaves around the stem.
This building was originally built as a village school in about 1868 but in March 1934, after the school was closed, it was dedicated as a church by the Bishop of Exeter (EPG, 1934). According to Chaytor (1990) the whole of the interior is the work of V. Pinwill. Although Wheatly acted as the architect, it is likely that a lot of the design work was Violet’s.
Reredos – Photograph (PWDRO 116/39) R. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1936
The reredos houses two figures on pedestals – appropriately, St Gabriel and St Mary – although the central canopy is unoccupied and may have been designed to hold a cross. The uprights either side of the figures are elaborately carved with plants, birds and insects. The reredos, together with the east window and the panelling below, were funded by Mrs Elsie Douglass Pethybridge, a Plymouth heiress and widow who had settled in Postbridge, and dedicated to her three brothers, two of whom died in WWI (WMN, 1936a).
Chancel Panelling – Photograph (PWDRO 116/39) R. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1936
The three walls of the sanctuary are covered with linenfold panelling, with gilded symbols of the four evangelists on the east side. It was installed at the same time as the reredos above.
Altar Rails – Chaytor (1990) V. Pinwill carver; probably 1936
A semi-kneeling angel graces the end of each rail, although they are of a plainer, less graceful design than those of 20 years earlier. No firm date has been ascertained for the altar rails but they are probably of the same period as the rest of the the furnishings.
Clergy Stalls (2) – Photograph (PWDRO 116/39) R. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1936
One of the two clergy stalls is photographed with the panelling above and is therefore of the same date.
Pulpit – Photograph (PWDRO 116/39) R. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; after 1936
The pulpit features a large number of wild creatures, ranging from the familiar rabbits and squirrels to more exotic koala bears and penguins, while the base incorporates an aquatic scene of seaweed and fish. It was the gift of Mrs Pethybridge of Postbridge sometime after the other furnishings given in 1936 (Hedges, 2005).
Lectern – Photograph (PWDRO 116/39) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; after 1934
The front of the lectern bears a carving of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, with the apple about to be picked. The figure of Eve is well carved and shown as rather athletic and shapely, though Adam appears rather wooden and long-limbed. A very similar scene was incorporated into a lectern for Lansallos church several years earlier. The base incorporates the symbols of the four evangelists.
Pews – Chaytor (1990) V. Pinwill carver; 1934-1947
Most of the carved pews are in memory of former parishioners and feature, among other motifs, a lizard and a butterfly. Three of the later ones were dedicated in July 1947 during a service conducted by the Bishop of Plymouth (WMN, 1947c). Two were presented by Pinewood Schools in grateful memory of their five years’ stay there during the war. The third was in memory of John Leaman Henley, a former cider manufacturer of Archerton, Postbridge (WMN, 1941). Some pews nearer the back of the church, with narrower bench ends, postdate the work of V. Pinwill but echo the design.
Chancel Screen Restoration – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; 1911
This ancient screen was at the Plymouth workshop awaiting restoration in 1910 when a fire broke out. The screen was partly destroyed but within a year the missing pieces were replaced with new work. Scorch marks sustained in the fire can still be seen on some of the wood. A report appeared in the Western Morning News in April 1911 after the restored screen was reinstated:
The fine old screen belonging to Rattery Church has just been beautifully restored and replaced in the church for Easter through the generosity of the Misses Carew, of Morley House, who have been responsible for it. The work was carried out by Rashleigh Pinwill, of Plymouth. This screen is a very fine example of the old Devonshire types, and has some unusual detail. The cove was entirely gone, and only some small portions of the cornice remained. These have been carefully repaired and reused, and all the new work based on the same designs as the old portions. It is some forty feet in length, and is a very great improvement to the church (WMN, 1911b).
The guide states that the work and the fire occurred on the way to, or in, Exeter (Rattery, undated). This is rather unfortunate and misguided, as it implies that such restorations could not have been done anywhere except Exeter.
Litany Desk – Guide (Salcombe, undated) Pinwill sisters; date unknown
The only source for this piece is the guide to Holy Trinity, which states that the ‘oak litany desk... is attributed to the Misses Pinwill, daughters of the vicar of Ermington and granddaughters of the Rev. William Pinwill who earlier carved our pulpit and font.’ It bears a brass plaque stating that it is in memory of Revd W. B. Browne, who was assistant priest in the parish for 12 years.
Unknown item – Chaytor (1990)
Beams and Bosses – Newspaper article (WMN, 1911c) G. Fellowes Prynne architect, R. Pinwill carver; 1911
There are no indications of this commission in either the family memoir or the archive at PWDRO but an article in the Western Morning News in December 1911 provides some detail. It reports that a great deal of money had already been spent on the restoration of the church over the previous years and only the porch remained in a dilapidated state. Revd W. Surtees was about to take his leave of the parish, and determined that this work should be completed. As a result, the roof of the porch was filled with richly carved beams and bosses, in keeping with the interior of the church. The work was carried out by Rashleigh Pinwill of Plymouth to plans by the architect George Fellowes Prynne. The porch was dedicated by the Archdeacon of Totnes and a public tea followed in the afternoon. The roof within the church is indeed impressive with many important late medieval figurative bosses, including a pair of Green Man heads and one depicting the Three Hares.
Altar Top & Retable – Newspaper article (WMN, 1895a) R. Pinwill carver; 1895
Until this newspaper article came to light, it was thought that the Pinwills did not produce any work for the interior of St Peter’s at Shaldon, designed by Edmund H. Sedding and furnished mainly in stone and metal by Henry Wilson (Wilson, 2016). The article reports on one of the annual joint exhibitions of paintings by Miss Cockram and woodcarving by Rashleigh Pinwill and their respective pupils at the Assembly Rooms, Royal Hotel, Plymouth. The account of the woodcarving states that, unfortunately, several really beautiful pieces were not available for the exhibition as they had had to be dispatched to customers and were therefore represented by photographs. These included work for Shaldon Church. At the same time as this evidence was revealed, it was discovered that Edmund H. Sedding had designed the altar at Shaldon (WMN, 1895b) and not Henry Wilson. It is described in a report of its dedication, which states that the top of the stone altar was made of carved oak, richly gilded in front. At some point this top was replaced with a marble one. The report continues to describe a three-tier oak retable above the altar, carved with rose, shamrock and thistle, still evident today. Although the stone altar itself was made by Messrs Goad & Blowey, builders of Plymouth, it is highly likely that the associated woodcarving was carried out by Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co.
Sanctuary Chair – Photograph (PWDRO 116/40) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; after 1943
The chair was given in memory of Ralph Cleave Alexander, Vicar of the Parish from 1923 until he died in 1943.
A striking feature of Sheepstor church is the fine chancel screen. It is a reproduction of the original, based on sketches made by Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould, and completed by Herbert Read of Exeter in 1914.
Lectern – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; after 1902
A brass plaque on the wall of the church states that the lectern is a memorial to Rev. C.H. Crooke, Vicar of the Parish for 23 years, who died in 1902.
Bench Ends – Photographs (PWDRO 116/41, 116/113, 244/4, 244/5 & 244/6); Newspaper article (WMN, 1939e) V. Pinwill; 1914 to 1939
There are 27 carved bench ends in St Leonard’s and, according to a newspaper article, they were all made by V. Pinwill (WMN, 1939e), although the photographs in PWDRO record only 19. Apart from one, the designs fall into two distinct categories: a more modern design, with subjects including scenes from the life of Christ, the death of St Morwenna, the signing of the Magna Carta and crusaders in battle (8) and more traditional, with symbols of the passion (18). Contrary to expectation, the former appear to have been made earlier than the others, since maquettes of at least six of them appear in a photograph of the workshop datable to 1917 (PWDRO 244/5). The oak pews in the north aisle, together with the screen below, memorials to Eleanor Julia Bayly of Bideford, were made much later and dedicated by the Bishop of Plymouth in May 1939. At the same time the Bishop dedicated the centre block of pews, completed ‘some time ago’ (Ibid. p. 8). The bench ends at Sheepstor appear in a list of notable modern carving in Devon (Slader, 1968).
Vestry Screen – Newspaper article (WMN, 1939e) V. Pinwill carver; 1939
This screen, across the north transept, formed part of the memorial to Eleanor Julia Bayly of Bideford and was dedicated in May 1939 with the oak pews.
In 1908 the church at Sparkwell underwent extensive alterations overseen by Edmund H. Sedding. The chancel was rebuilt, widened and lengthened, the organ chamber was enlarged, and a vestry added on the north side.
Credence Table – Newspaper article (WMN, 1908) E. Sedding architect, Miss Pinwill carver; 1908
As part of the work on the chancel, new choir stalls and altar rails were commissioned from Mr Stephens of Plympton and a credence table from Miss Pinwill (probably Violet). Coincidentally, at the service of dedication in September 1908, the Bishop’s pastoral staff was carried by Revd E. Pinwill in his capacity as Rural Dean.
Rood – Photograph (PWDRO 116/109); Guide (Staverton, undated) V. Pinwill; 1941
There is an unmarked photograph in a group of unknown churches in PWDRO 116/109 that was identified as being of the interior of Staverton, showing the screen and rood and the chancel beyond. The screen there was much restored 1889-91 by the architect Frederick Bligh Bond, who engaged Harry Hems of Exeter to carry out the work and to add a loft (Bond & Camm, 1909). It was not until 1941, however, that a rood was commissioned from ‘Miss Violet Pinwill, the celebrated wood carver’ (Staverton, undated). The rood is dedicated to the memory of Katherine Gladys Drake-Brockman, wife of the Vicar, who died in May 1940.
Altar Panels – Photograph (PWDRO 116/42) V. Pinwill carver; 1948
The guide (Staverton, undated) states that a new high altar was installed in 1948, replacing a nineteenth-century one, and that Violet Pinwill supplied three carved and painted panels for the front. A plaque in the church records that the altar was built of oak with carved walnut panels. The design was by the Vicar, Revd E.D. Drake-Brockman, based on that of the Jacobean stall used as a lectern, with three arches symbolic of the Trinity.
Pulpit – Photograph (PWDRO 116/110 & 244/5) E. Sedding architect, R. Pinwill / V. Pinwill carver; Photograph (GC/PA 7) E. Pinwill carver; 1891
There are two photographs of this beautifully carved and enchanting pulpit in PWDRO 244/5, one showing the front and the other the back. Three duplicates of the latter are found in 116/110 (church not specified and therefore subsumed into a group of ‘unknown’ pulpits) and it is these that provide information on carver and designer. A large card stands beside the pulpit in all versions, printed with the words ‘R. Pinwill and Sedding’. In the second version the words ‘designed by’ have been inserted between the two names. In the third, most interestingly, the ‘R’ has been changed to a ‘V’, when in fact the work was carried out when the company was still Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co. The second version may have given rise to the use of the name ‘Rashleigh, Pinwill, and Sedding’ in a newspaper report when the pulpit was exhibited at Harris’s Art Gallery, Plymouth (TWT, 1891). To add to the confusion, there is a further photograph held at Goldsmiths, the back of which is marked ‘E. Pinwill Ermington Ivybridge’. The guide (Stoke Fleming, undated) states that Violet Pinwill carved the pulpit, although this could be a case of retro-attribution, as the altar and altar rails described below were indeed her work. Violet was only 17 years old when the pulpit was carved, whereas Ethel was slightly more mature at 19, but the conundrum will probably never be resolved. In May 1890 it was reported that the new pulpit was to be carved by ‘Mr Rashleigh Pinwill & Co., of Ermington’ (TBA, 1890 p. vii) but it was not installed and dedicated until the following July (EFP, 1891). The pulpit was given by Matilda Margaret Noble and cost £300 (TBA, 1891b).
Altar – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) no carver specified; 1911
The beautifully carved altar features three panels depicting significant scenes from the life of St Peter, divided by palm trees, with their fronds arching over the panels. The guide (Stoke Fleming, undated) states that it is the work of Violet Pinwill. It was given to the church as a thanksgiving by Charles and Elizabeth Selby in September 1911. A faculty exists at DHC dated 1911 for the altar and the altar rails listed below (PWDRO 2423/4).
Altar Rails – Guide (Stoke Fleming, undated) V. Pinwill carver; 1911
According to the guide, the altar rails were carved by Violet Pinwill and installed at the same time as the altar in 1911, but the gates are certainly later additions. The rails were given in memory of Rev. J.S. Exell, Rector of the Parish for 20 years, and his wife Florence, by their son and friends.
Font Cover – Chaytor (1990); after 1940
Tavistock is in the list of churches supplied by Chaytor (1990, p. 68) where Violet Pinwill’s work exists but no further information is given on what may be found there. A visit in October 2013 revealed the existence of a font cover almost identical in design to those at Broadclyst in Devon and at Kenwyn, Landulph and Pillaton in Cornwall. It is dedicated to the memory of Major General C.E.E. Curtoys (died 1940) and his wife Maude (died 1935).
Headstone – Photograph (PWDRO 244/3) V. Pinwill carver; 1929
The headstone depicted in PWDRO 244/3 shows no indication of where it is located, although it bears the name of Charles Law Biscoe, who died in January 1929. Probate records state that he was ‘of Kingswood Teignmouth’ (TNA Probate 1929). This house is in Dawlish Road, in the Parish of St Michael. A visit in July 2015 found no matching headstone in the churchyard of St Michael’s, although several were no longer visible behind overgrown vegetation.
In 1980 Holy Trinity was declared redundant and in 1982 was converted into the Breakaway Sports Centre. The fate of the furniture and fittings is not known.
Panelling with Door – Photograph (PWDRO 116/43) V. Pinwill carver; probably 1931
The work in the photograph is probably the chancel panelling for which a faculty exists at DHC dated 1930-31 (PWDRO 2423/4), but this requires further investigation.
Choir Stalls – Photograph (PWDRO 116/43) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1938
A faculty for the choir stalls dated 1938 exists at DHC (PWDRO 2423/4).
Parclose Screen – Cherry & Pevsner (2004)
This Pinwill screen was removed from St Pancras, Pennycross, Plymouth, and installed at Uffculme in 1986. For more information see entry for St Pancras.
Unknown item – Chaytor (1990)
There is quite a lot of modern woodcarving in Walkhampton church, including the lectern, reredos, font cover, choir stalls, pulpit and other items, all of which were the subject of a faculty dated 1937 held at DHC (PWDRO 2423/4). Further investigation is required to establish whether any of these were made by V. Pinwill.
Litany Desk – Photograph (PWDRO 116/44) V. Pinwill carver; 1938
This litany desk bears charming carvings, related to the legends associated with St Werburgh, in which the saint is shown with geese, while three fish and more geese in a basket feature on the cross-bar. It is in memory of Rev. Anyon Herbert Duxbury, Vicar of Wembury 1923-36. A faculty for the litany desk was granted in 1938 (PWDRO 729/70).
Unknown item – Chaytor (1990)
A faculty petition granted in 1903 includes plans by Edmund H. Sedding for a new south chancel aisle (DHC Faculty W4) and further plans are lodged at DHC (1626B/P/207-209). Woodwork was required in the form of new seating and a carving of The Lamb of God for a niche between the windows, and these could, conceivably, have been made by the Pinwills, though no evidence exists. The only other item seen on a visit to Whitchurch in July 2012 that may be attributable was the altar rails, but again, more information is needed.
William Butterfield was responsible for the rebuilding of St Bartholomew 1849-52, the interior being ‘an important early instance of his use of constructional polychromy’ (Cherry & Pevsner, 2004 p. 924)
Lectern – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) no carver specified; after 1905
This is the only lectern depicted in the PWDRO photographs that employs an eagle as support for the Bible, even though this is a devise commonly used since medieval times. It is dedicated to the memory of Baldwin John Pollexfen Bastard of Kitley who died in 1905 and was given by his wife Frances. The bird bears more than a passing resemblance to the eagle evident in the 1917 photograph of the maquettes in the Pinwill workshop (PWDRO 244/5).
St Paul’s started life as a wooden church but was replaced by a permanent one between 1910 and 1912 (Gelsthorpe, 1985). The land was gifted by the Misses Bayley, together with a total of £1515 to wards the costs, and the exterior stone was donated by Sir Henry Lopes from his Yennadon Quarry near Dousland. The architect was the Sir Charles Nicholson, who worked with Violet Pinwill on projects elsewhere, and who may have designed the items below.
Choir Stalls – Chaytor (1990); Guide (Gelsthorpe, 1985) V. Pinwill carver; 1915
Yelverton is in the list of churches supplied by Chaytor (1990, p. 68) where Violet Pinwill’s work exists but no further information is given on what may be found there. During a visit in October 2011 the guide revealed that Violet Pinwill had been commissioned to carve the oak choir stalls. They were placed in the church in memory of John and Elizabeth Bayly by their daughters in 1915. There are eight foliate poppy heads, some featuring creatures such as a snail, birds and what may be a caterpillar.
Altar Rails – Photograph (PWDRO 116/46, 244/2 & 244/4) V. Pinwill carver; after 1922
The photograph of these altar rails states that they are for the memorial chapel to the Rev. G. Pole-Carew, although there is no inscription. Revd Gerald Pole-Carew died on 5 October 1922 (TNA Probate 1922).
Chancel Screen Restoration – Photographs (PWDRO 116/47 & 244/1) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; after 1928
This wonderful restoration recreates the chancel screen across the south aisle, enclosing the Lady Chapel. Panels from the original screen were used for the base and almost the entirety of the rest of the screen was added. The photographs in both PWDRO 116/47 and 244/1 show the ‘old panels’ restored and ready for use, as well as the completed screen in situ. The coving is, unusually, carved on both sides, though the work is slightly less ornate on the east face. An inscription across the transom states that the screen is a memorial to Felix Elford Coom (died 1899) and his wife Elizabeth (died 1895) and was given by their daughter Augusta St Aubyn Thomas (died 1928). It was intended that the new chancel screen would extend across the whole width of the church, hence an abrupt end to the coving on the north side (G. Minors, Rector, pers. comm.). A screen without vaulting was made for the north aisle (probably not by V. Pinwill) but the central portion was never commissioned.
Clergy Stalls and Desks (2), Sedilia, Main Reredos and Chapel Reredos – Letter (CRO P13/2/69) Bowman & Son and Miss Pinwill; 1932
A letter dated 1 July 1931 from the architect Sir Charles A. Nicholson to Mr Young at Bodmin church submits two estimates for the above work. One is from Bowman & Son for £572 and the other from Miss Pinwill for £628 15s. Nicholson, a former pupil of John Dando Sedding, states that he thinks ‘there is nothing to choose between the workmanship of the two, both are first rate’. Given that information, Mr Young would probably be inclined to chose Bowman & Son to do the work. A visit to St Petroc in November 2013 confirmed that it is unlikely that V. Pinwill created these pieces. As with the chancel screen above, they were made utilising ‘old panels’ either from former screens or from bench ends to designs by Nicholson, which are kept in the Rectory, and constructed in 1932 (Beacham & Pevsner, 2014).
South Chapel Altar Cornice – Plan (CRO P13/2/73) V. Pinwill; after 1921
A plan prepared by Violet Pinwill shows a strip of carving for a cornice over the south chapel altar. This work, if it was ever carried out, is no longer evident, as a visit in November 2013 confirmed.
Reredos – Photograph (PWDRO 244/3, 244/4, 244/5 & 244/6) Pinwill carvers; 1900
This elaborate reredos is an important piece of work and is shown in the (repeated) photograph before installation, with a card on which is written ‘Pinwill Carvers’. Either side are empty niches, later filled by two carved figures of angels that are probably Pinwill work, one holding a scythe and the other a cross and trumpet. In the centre is a gilded cross bearing the symbols of the four evangelists. Above sits some fine open work composed of vines, while the base houses an inscription in perforated lettering. This states that the reredos was given by the tenantry and parishioners in memory of General Sir William Penn Symons KCB, who died in the Boer War in 1899. The reredos was dedicated in April 1900 by the Archdeacon of Bodmin and a newspaper report of the event states that the memorial ‘is executed in a manner which reflects immense credit upon its designer and maker, Miss Pinwell [sic], of Plymouth’ (RCG, 1900a p. 7). Added in the centre, after the dedication, is a painted panel of the risen Christ appearing to the two Marys, given by the brothers of the deceased. Unfortunately, the guide (Botus Fleming, undated) states that the work was carved by ‘Messrs Pinwell and Rashleigh’, and, interestingly, the Church Times attributes the reredos to Miss M. Rashleigh Pinwill (CT, 1900). These reports, together with the card in the photograph, record an interesting transitional period in the history of the company. A photograph of the reredos was placed on display in an exhibition in June 1900 of wood carving, ancient and modern, at the Royal Hotel, Plymouth (WMN, 1900).
Baptistery – Journal article (TBN, 1915) Sedding & Stallybrass architects, R. Pinwill carver; 1915
The only source for this work is a short paragraph in The Building News and Engineering Journal that records the dedication by the Bishop of Exeter of the new baptistery at St Michael’s and states that the ‘carving is the work of Mr. Rashleigh Pinwill, of Plymouth... and the building has been carried out to the design of the architects, Messrs. Sedding and Stallybrass’ (BNEJ, 1915 p. 514).
Panelling – Photograph (PWDRO 116/48) R. Pinwill carver; after 1918
The photograph in PWDRO shows only one section of the panelling that covers the major part of the chancel walls and is a WWI memorial inscribed with the names of those who died.
Wall Panel – Hedges (2005); 1930s
A visit to this church in June 2014 did not reveal any evidence of a wall panel made in the Pinwill workshop. However, it did uncover some interesting finds outlined below. In addition, the restoration of the upper part of the nave section of the screen, completed in July 1909 to a design by Edmund H. Sedding, is reported in a booklet by Budock Parish History Group (1993). It states that the woodcarving was done by ‘Messrs Hems of Exeter’ (Ibid. p. 7), which demonstrates that Sedding did not exclusively patronise the Pinwill workshop.
Reredos and Organ Screen – Budock Parish History Group (1993) Miss Pinfold of Exeter carver; 1938
Intriguingly, the Budock Parish History Group (1993) also reports that during the incumbency of Revd Holden (1938-43) the widow and son of Charles Phillips (died 1931) gave in his name ‘a fine oak reredos, carved, I believe, by Miss Pinfold of Exeter. She also made... the fine screen erected where was the old organ chamber’ (Ibid. p. 9). While it is possible that there was a woodcarver of that name in Exeter, it is much more likely that the half-remembered name was, in fact, Miss Pinwill of Plymouth. The items concerned bear a strong resemblance to other work she completed in the late 1930s and early 1940s. A faculty petition for the reredos is dated 30 November 1938 (CRO D/R 16/4).
Green Man – Beacham & Pevsner (2014) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
Riddel Posts (2) – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) no carver specified; possibly 1911
An unlabelled photograph at PWDRO showing one of these riddel posts was only identified as such after a visit to the church. This was inspired by a suggestion from Revd Canon Gordon Ruming that there was Pinwill work there, after a talk to the Plymouth Branch of the Devonshire Association in which the typical semi-kneeling angels produced by the Pinwill workshop were illustrated. The riddel posts are no longer used for their original purpose around the altar and now stand either side of the entrance to the tower. They may date from the same period as the altar, which was given to commemorate the life of Revd Thomas Hullah, Rector for 46 years, who died in 1911. One angel kneels with head upturned holding a thurible, while the other is in prayer with bowed head, bearing a striking resemblance to one carved for a memorial credence for St Germans. They are among the most beautifully carved examples of Pinwill angels.
The church at Carbis Bay was dedicated in 1929 and built to the designs of architect R. F. Wheatly (Carbis Bay, undated). Perhaps surprisingly, only a few items of V. Pinwill work are to be found here.
Pulpit Restoration – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; after 1929
Presumably this pulpit was a gift from another church but was in need of restoration.
Lectern – Photograph (PWDRO 244/3) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; after 1929
Figure of the Christ Child – no documentation; 1935
A visit to Carbis Bay in March 2013 proved to be an exciting event, when another figure of the Christ child was found. It is identical in design to the five others, except that it is about half the size and the robe is coloured a bright blue with gold borders, rather than white with blue/gold or red/gold borders. A brass plaque on the table below is dated 1935 and states that the figure was given in memory of Louise Emily Lidgey (died 1932) and Kathleen Mary Lidgey (died 1929).
Altar Rails – Chaytor (1990); Newspaper article (WMN, 1921a) Edmund H. Sedding architect; probably 1921
Cardinham church is mentioned in the list provided by Chaytor (1990) of churches in which V. Pinwill work may be found but no other information is given. However, Edmund H. Sedding undertook a restoration here in 1921 (Beacham & Pevsner, 2014), which must have been shortly before his death. In his obituary it states that he designed ‘altar rails in Cardynham Church in memory of two sons of the Vicar who made the supreme sacrifice’ (WMN, 1921a p. 8). The rails are indeed dedicated to Lieuts Paul and Tom May, both aged 19 when they were killed in France in 1917 and 1918, respectively. There is a great similarity in design to the rails at Plympton St Mary, with bulky roundels and semi-kneeling angels in prayer.
The church at Chacewater was rebuilt, except for the tower, and completely refurbished under the direction of architect Edmund H. Sedding (WMN, 1921a) and re-opened in December 1892.
Chancel Seats – Chaytor (1990) R. Pinwill carvers; 1892
Chancel seats for Chacewater church are listed on a handbill illustrated in Chaytor (1990) as being work undertaken by Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co. It was announced in August 1892 that the work of making the seats had been entrusted to the company (TBA, 1892). Then in December that year an article in the Royal Cornwall Gazette about the re-opening of Chacewater church states ‘The chancel seats are of oak, and were executed by Rashleigh, Pinwill, and Co., of Plymouth. They have given great satisfaction, and are of somewhat unusual design’ (RCG, 1892, p. 4). The seating is less ornate than most other work produced at this time, though there is some interesting detail here and there, particularly on the ends of the arm rests on the priests’ stalls.
Chancel Seats – Chaytor (1990); Plan (CRO X272/13/3) Edmund H. Sedding architect; 1899
Constantine is in the list of churches supplied by Chaytor (1990, p. 68) where Violet Pinwill’s work exists but no further information is given on what may be found there. A plan exists for chancel seats designed by E. H. Sedding in 1899 that could have been carved by Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co., although they are rather plain.
A most remarkable restoration of this church was carried out between 1899 and 1907 to plans by Edmund H. Sedding, with the internal woodcarving expertly and beautifully executed by the Pinwill company. According to the guide (Brown & Hattam, 1996), the walls and roof were first made secure, and then the chancel beautified with marble flooring and carved oak furnishings. Then the full width screen was fitted and the church reopened in July 1902, while the benches were completed in 1907. Although the first stage of this work was carried out in the period of Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co., one of the photographs in PWDRO of the screen and the chancel beyond specifies V. Pinwill as the carver, as does the church guide.
Reredos – Photograph (PWDRO 116/71 & 244/5) carver not specified; 1899-1902
The elaborate reredos is not shown in a separate photograph but features in ones of the chancel. Beneath canopies are niches for four large and eight small figures of Saints, although these were not produced until later. In May 1902 the reredos was placed on exhibition for one week at the art gallery of Harris & Sons in George Street, Plymouth (WB, 1902). This was reported in the West Briton, together with a full description and the information that it was designed by E. Sedding and executed by Rashleigh Pinwill.
Sanctuary Panelling, Aumbry and Door – Photograph (PWDRO 116/71) carver not specified; 1899-1902
Choir Stalls – Photograph (PWDRO 116/71 & 244/5) R. Pinwill carver; 1899-1902
Clergy Stalls – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; 1899-1902
Vicar's Stall – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; 1899-1902
The chancel stalls are notable for their exuberant poppy heads, featuring trees, seaweed, fruit and flowers. The Vicar’s stall has a tree within which sits the dove of St Carantoc. All the seats have carved misericords, the ones under the four clergy stalls showing the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Penance and Holy Communion (Brown & Hattam, 1996).
Parclose Screens (4) – Photograph (PWDRO 116/71 & 244/5) carver not specified; 1899-1902
The parclose screens are shown in situ in photographs at PWDRO. On plans for the screens it is stated by Sedding ‘2 old ones to be rest’d & 2 new ones’ (CRO X272/14/13).
Confessional and Priest’s Seat – Church Inventory of Restoration Work; 1899-1902
In the Lady Chapel, incorporated into one of the new parclose screens, is a pair of hinged panels bearing the words ‘Misericordia Gratia et Pax’ (Mercy, Grace and Peace) that fold down to reveal a carved grill used for confessions. On the opposite side of the screen, within the chancel, a seat was provided for a priest to hear the confessions.
Rood Screen – Photograph (PWDRO 116/71, 244/4 & 244/5) V. Pinwill / R. Pinwill carver; 1899-1902
The screen incorporates several uprights of the medieval screen and features figures of the apostles and evangelists. Beacham & Pevsner (2014 p. 166) describe the screen as ‘especially accomplished’.
Rood Base – Photograph (PWDRO 116/71) carver not specified; 1899-1902
Placed upon the screen is a rood, the figures of which were carved at Oberamagau, but the base was made by the Pinwill company.
Bosses – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) carver not specified 1899-1902
Lady Chapel Altar Panels – Plan (CRO X272/14/8) carver not specified; 1899-1902
Lady Chapel Altar Rails – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; 1899-1902
Figure of St Michael – Church Inventory of Restoration Work; 1899-1902
A figure of St Michael in an elaborate corner canopy sits on the wall in the Lady Chapel. There are some strong similarities between this figure and the one made for Lew Trenchard at around the same time, except that the scales with which St Michael is often associated are not included in the Crantock carving.
Pulpit – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; 1899-1902
There is a plan by Sedding in CRO for a pulpit for Crantock (CRO X272/14/14) but it is not the one that was made. In a photograph of the interior prior to the benches being installed, there is a pulpit matching the one that is presently in the church. It is the earliest of several very similar pulpits made by the Pinwill company for other churches around Cornwall, being octagonal with heavily carved uprights and eight legs.
In July 1902, when the chancel and screen were complete, the church was re-opened in a service of dedication conducted by the Bishop of Truro and reported in The Church Times (CT, 1902). The effect was described as being ‘as if the rarest art and genius have combined to make this House of God as fair as any in the land’ (Ibid. p. 62). It was also reported that the figures for the reredos were not, at that stage, in place. In a description of the church it is mentioned that a carved stone statue of St Carantoc opposite the doorway was made by the sculptor Nathaniel Hitch, with whom Violet Pinwill and Edmund Sedding had several collaborations.
Figures for Reredos – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; 1905
These figures were not in place at the time of the dedication service (CT, 1902) but were completed by February 1905 and put on display at an exhibition of work by Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co. in Plymouth (WMN, 1905a). These consisted of four large figures of St Peter, St Patrick, St Piran and St Edward the Confessor, along with eight smaller ones to represent the beatitudes, namely St Francis, St Anselm, St Mary Magdelen, St Teath, St Bridget, St Agnes, St Trenaens and St George.
Lectern – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) carver not specified; after 1902
In the same photograph of the interior prior to the benches being installed (PWDRO 244/5) there is a very plain lectern that does not correspond to the more elaborate one made by the Pinwill company and currently in the church.
Bench Ends & Fronts – Guide (Brown & Hattam, 1996) V. Pinwill carver; 1906-07
A photograph (PWDRO 244/5) of the interior of the church after the completion of the first stage of the restoration shows the rows of chairs used before the benches were added. There are 18 carved bench ends running in two series, one showing scenes in the life of Christ, and the other the teaching of the Church, and three carved bench fronts. Postcards sent from Crantock by joiner Albert E. Elliott to his wife demonstrate that the work of installing the benches took over three weeks, probably because the benches themselves needed to be cut in situ to fit individually.
Lych Gate – Plan (CRO X272/14/4) E. Sedding architect; 1899-1902
There is a plan in CRO by Sedding for the new lych gate, but whether the Pinwill company was involved in this work is not known.
Pulpit – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) no carver specified; Plan (CRO X272/15/1) R. Pinwill carver; 1920s or before
The photograph in PWDRO shows this piece prior to dispatch and it is merely annotated ‘Creed Ch Pulpit’. At CRO, however, there exists a plan by Violet Pinwill (though marked ‘R. Pinwill’) of the proposed pulpit. The finished piece is exquisitely carved and illustrates the skill of V. Pinwill as a designer. The plan is dated by CRO to the 1920s but the use of ‘R. Pinwill’ on the plan would suggest an earlier date.
Tablet – Faculty Petition & Plans (CRO D/R 4/9 & D/R 47) V. Pinwill designer and carver; 1900
At CRO there are faculty plans and correspondence relating to a carved oak tablet designed and executed by Miss V. Pinwill. It registers the fact that the sanctuary roof was restored in 1900 in memory of Charles Henry Hosken, Vicar of Cubert from 1850 to 1895. Restoration of the fifteenth-century roof was carried out by Edmund H. Sedding (RCG, 1900b), who then commissioned Violet Pinwill to design and carve the memorial tablet. Most of the bosses in the restored roof appear to be relatively modern and may also have been replaced during the restoration (Cubert, 2015) and thus carved by Violet Pinwill.
The church of All Saints was built 1887-90 to the designs of John Dando Sedding, uncle of Edmund H. Sedding. Fittings designed by him include the oak choir stalls, carved by Trask & Co. and the Devon marble font. As was often the case, the nephew was called upon to take over after his uncle died. In 1895, Edmund H. Sedding was the obvious choice to design the magnificent alabaster and marble pulpit executed by J. & E. Goad of the Plymouth Phoenix Steam Marble Works (RCG, 1895). In 1908 he also designed the elaborate reredos for All Saints. This was one of the instances where the Pinwill workshop did not carry out the work and Harry Hems of Exeter was chosen instead (CRO P257/2/53-58) but there are many fine examples of Pinwill woodcarving at All Saints.
Organ Case – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; Plan (CRO X272/23/2) E. H. Sedding architect; 1894
A plan of the organ case at CRO is dated 1893 and illustrates the north side, facing into the chancel, and the west elevation, although the design is slightly different from what was produced. The elaborate case encloses an organ by Hele & Co. of Plymouth, built in 1894, said at the time to be second only to the one in Truro Cathedral (RCG, 1894). An article in the Royal Cornwall Gazette records a service of dedication for the new organ, and remarks that the case of oak is ‘enhanced by fine carving, adding much to the beauty of the chancel’ (Ibid. p. 8).
Lady Chapel Cross, Candlesticks and Altar Canopy – Photographs (PWDRO 116/49 & 244/2) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1926
There are two photographs in PWDRO that show the cross and candlesticks before despatch and one of these depicts the cross on an elaborate stand beneath the canopy. A third photograph is of these items in the Lady Chapel. A plan at CRO for the cross and candlesticks, in dark oak and silver, is dated 1926 (X272/23/1). The Church History (Wallace, undated) confirms that work on the new chapel took place in the early part of 1926 and was to designs by Wheatly.
Roundel of Madonna and Child – Church History (Wallace, undated) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
This roundel sits above the cornice of the Lady Chapel altar canopy and, according to the Church History (Wallace, undated), was carved by Miss Pinwill of Plymouth and coloured by Mr Snell of Stonehouse. It is said to be a copy of a Della Robbia plaque, although it is more similar to a painting by Guercino used elsewhere by V. Pinwill as the basis for Madonna and child. Unfortunately, this roundel has been repainted recently and a local coastal scene added in the background.
Figure of Madonna and Child – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1927
This fine carving of Madonna and child, standing on a plinth and with an ornate canopy over, is situated in the Lady Chapel. A faculty petition for the statue was submitted in October 1926 and it includes the comment ‘likelihood of superstitious reverence – none whatever’ (CRO D/R 4/17), but it was not placed in the chapel until 1927 (Wallace, undated). The almost life-size statue is carved in chestnut and given by Colonel Wilkie in memory of his wife. It too appears to be based on the painting by Guercino and has had the white of the lily flower and the Madonna’s headdress retouched quite recently.
Figure of St George – Photograph (PWDRO 116/49) V. Pinwill carver; after 1946
A figure of St George in Roman attire, coloured and gilded, stands against one of the nave pillars as a memorial to Eunice Pauline Read, a greatly loved Akela, who died in December 1946.
Altar – Church History (Wallace, undated) V. Pinwill carver; 1947
The altar for the Lady Chapel was a late addition, being a Christmas gift for 1947. It incorporates the original marble slab and surrounds it with gilded carvings of the birds and vines motif, with a chalice in the centre. The work is attributed to Miss Pinwill in the Church History (Wallace, undated), though there are no photographs of this piece in PWDRO.
Edmund H. Sedding carried out a notable restoration here in 1897-98, which included the addition of side chapels and complete re-roofing and re-ceiling (Beacham & Pevsner, 2014). During this restoration the church was fitted with new seating of stained deal with moulded oak ends (WMN, 1897), but there is no indication that this work was carried out by the Pinwills. The work outlined below is of a much later period under the architect R. F. Wheatly.
Baptistry Panelling and Screen – Newspaper article (WB, 1939) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1939
The evidence for this work comes from an account of the dedication service carried out in 1939 for a new baptistery as a memorial to the late Rector, Canon B. L. Hope. The west end of the church was given marble and parquet flooring, the walls panelled in oak and an oak screen built. The baptistry was designed by R. F. Wheatly and the carving work done by V. Pinwill.
Font Cover Restoration – Photograph (PWDRO 116/49 & 244/3) V. Pinwill carver; probably 1939
This delicate-looking and intricately-carved cover for the hexagonal marble font set on a wooden pedestal dates to 1759 (Hodges, undated) and was restored by V. Pinwill. The carving of acanthus and oak leaves is identical to that on the dated credence table in the sanctuary. Parish records for that year state that £56 was spent on various furnishings, including a font and cover. The restoration work may well have been done at the same time as the panelling and screen above. The photograph of the restored cover held at PWDRO is within the same reference as Falmouth All Saints.
Chancel Screen – Photographs (116/50, 244/4 & 244/5) carver not specified; 1907
The chancel screen at Fowey was designed by Edmund H. Sedding (WMN, 1921a) and erected in 1907 as a thank offering to Canon H.N. Purcell, then celebrating 40 years as Vicar (Fowey, undated). One photograph (PWDRO 116/50) shows the screen fully erected in the church but with only small pieces of the running ornament and the cresting in place, whereas in the other picture (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) it is complete. There is also a newspaper report about Purcell, the church and the screen, which states that at the time of the dedication only a portion of the cornice was carved (HMA).
Memorial Benches – Newspaper article (WMN, 1921a) carver not specified; after 1918
Evidence for these four benches and two desks is the Western Morning News obituary for Edmund Sedding. This states that they are ‘a beautiful design with heraldic details, in honour of three members of the Treffry family’ (Ibid. p. 8) who died in WWII. The carving of the bench ends and particularly the pairs of angels holding shields are entirely in keeping with the work of the Pinwill company.
Pulpit – Photograph (PWDRO 116/77, 244/4 & 244/5) carver not specified; 1911
The octagonal pulpit at St Goran is of a very similar design to others made by the Pinwill company for Cornish churches, including those at Crantock, Lanteglos by Fowey, Lewannick, Linkinhorne, St Breward, St Buryan and St Erme. The guide (Gorran, undated) states that it was installed in 1911.
Clergy Stall (2) – Photograph (PWDRO 116/51) V. Pinwill carver; after 1929
These stalls were erected by the widow and other relations of Robert Stafford Haydon MA in honour of his work in the Parish from 1905 to 1929 as schoolmaster, lay reader and warden.
Litany Desk and Tables (2) – Photographs (PWDRO 116/51 & 244/3) V. Pinwill carver; after 1930
These items are photographed separately in PWDRO 116/51 but as a group in PWDRO 244/3 and therefore must be of a similar date. The litany desk sits next to the stalls above and is in a very similar style, suggesting that all these items may be part of the same suite. Only one of tables is still in use and is dedicated to James and Edith Annie Martin, with the date 1930.
Table – Photograph (PWDRO 116/51) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
This tall narrow table, probably designed for the sanctuary, is photographed separately from the items above and is no longer in the church.
Lectern Stand – Photograph (PWDRO 116/51) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
This rather unusual piece of furniture appears to be a compromise between a pulpit and a lectern. Unfortunately, it is no longer to be found in the church.
Figure of St Francis – Photograph (PWDRO 116/12) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1927
In PWDRO this photograph is misattributed to the church of St Francis in Plymouth. One of the three duplicate photographs is labelled ‘In Purbeck Portland Stone’. A beautifully drawn plan exists by Wheatly for a figure of St Francis in a niche over the porch, dated April 1927 (CRO AD889/15), although it was not faithfully reproduced in the final statue pictured in PWDRO 116/12. A visit to Indian Queens in June 2016 found an empty niche over the porch and the whereabouts of the statue is unknown.
Alms Dish – Photograph (PWDRO 116/79) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
This small plate is carved with a double border around the edge.
WWI Memorial – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2) V. Pinwill carver; probably 1920
The photograph of this wooden plaque is merely labelled war memorial, with no indication of where it was to be placed, although a rough index at the back of this album states ‘near Truro’. However, several names on the memorial tally with men living in Kea in the 1911 census. This deduction was verified by a visit to the church in August 2016, when it was found to be located in the rather charming rustic south porch of 1897. A memorial cross to the same men was unveiled in the churchyard in March 1920 (WB, 1920) and it is likely that the plaque is of a similar date. A memorial window to one of these men (Arthur Donald Sowell) is situated within All Hallows church.
See under Truro
Kilkhampton church contains several pieces of modern carving. The fine oak lectern was produced by Herbert Read of Exeter, who was also responsible for the altar and reredos in the Grenville chapel (Kilkhampton, 2012).
Altar Rails – Photograph (PWDRO 244/3) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1930
The altar rails in the photograph at PWDRO are illustrated in a plan by Cowell, Drewitt & Wheatly, architects, dated 1929 (CRO AD889/17) and faculty plans were submitted for an altar and altar rails (CRO D/R 78) in January 1930. The altar gate between the rails was added in 1977.
Altar – Plan (CRO AD889/17) Cowell, Drewitt & Wheatly architects; 1930
The original plan for the High Altar by Cowell, Drewitt & Wheatly, dated 1929, shows four designs; one of these (No.2) was selected and cut out. Although the altar has a wooden mensa, it is constructed of blocks of polyphant, with columns at either side, and a front decorated with carved borders highlighted in turquoise and blue. This altar could have been made by V. Pinwill at the same time as the rails above but there is insufficient evidence to support this.
In 1908 Edmund H. Sedding designed the vestry and organ chamber at Ladock (CRO P103/2/18). The vestry includes a fine bay window with leaded panes, similar in style to designs Sedding employed to great effect at St Mary’s Abbotsbury, where the pattern of the lead provides interest and the colourless glass allows maximum light. Ladock church is noted for its collection of William Morris windows.
Oak Chest – Photograph (PWDRO 116/53) V. Pinwill carver; 1926
The photograph in PWDRO shows a seventeenth-century style chest with coat of arms and ornamental iron hinges. A newspaper article with the same photograph records that the carved oak chest was placed in Ladock church by parishioners as a memorial to Stamford Raffles Raffles-Flint, Rector of Ladock 1885 to 1920 and Archdeacon of Cornwall 1917 to 1925, and was carved by Miss Pinwill of Plymouth (WMN, 1927b). The chest now sits in the vestry, close to Sedding’s window, although the legs appear to have suffered some damage from damp.
Font Cover – no documentary evidence; after 1954
During a visit to St Erney church to see a number of items made by V. Pinwill, including the font cover, the churchwarden suggested that the one at Landrake, the mother church, was identical. A visit there confirmed that this was indeed so, although surprisingly the St Erney font cover predates it. It is a memorial to Edwin Menhinick who died in October 1954, which means that this is one of the last known pieces made in the lifetime of V. Pinwill.
Font Cover – no documentary evidence
The font cover at Landulph, in many aspects of its design, is very similar to several others made by V. Pinwill, such as those at Broadclyst and Tavistock in Devon and at Kenwyn and Pillaton in Cornwall. It is more ornate than the others, the dove and its carved base being gilded and with extra ornamentation at the base of the handles. It may well have been the work of George H. Fellowes Prynne, as part of the 1928-34 restoration, which means it also predates the other covers and may have been the one from which the design developed.
Rood Screen Restoration – Photograph (PWDRO 116/54, 244/2 & 244/6) George H. Fellowes Prynne architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1928-32
The guide (Landulph, undated) states that the screen was restored in several phases. The lower central and south aisle portions are original fifteenth-century work and were restored by a Belgian refugee carver Leopold Roop in 1916. Then Rev. I.S. Jenkins arrived as Rector in 1924 and raised sufficient funds for the completion of the upper parts of the central section and the erection of a rood. George H. Fellowes Prynne, a London architect, was engaged to design the work and it was carried out by V. Pinwill (WMN, 1928b). A report on the dedication of the central portion of the screen in November 1928 appeared in the Western Morning News, together with a photograph. The upper parts of the two aisle sections were in place by May 1932 (WMN, 1932a) and, although it is not made clear, it is highly probable that they were also executed by V. Pinwill.
Rood – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2) George H. Fellowes Prynne architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1927-28
The figures and the base that form the rood are shown in a separate photograph in PWDRO. A faculty petition for the rood was submitted in 1927 (CRO D/R 5/16), although it was not erected until 1928 (WMN, 1928).
The church at Lanreath is remarkable for its wealth of seventeenth-century furniture and the Grylls monument, as well as its early Tudor screen, recently restored (Pollock, undated).
Lady Chapel Reredos – Photograph (PWDRO 244/1) V. Pinwill carver; 1925
The photograph in PWDRO shows the reredos in the workshop with its three low relief carved panels prior to being coloured. A most informative report in the Western Morning News (1925a) on the dedication of the reredos states that it was designed by R. F. Wheatly (not mentioned by V. Pinwill), the centre panel being based on a cast by Desiderioda Settignano, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The reredos was carved by Miss Pinwill of Plymouth and the colouring carried out by Mr Snell of Fouracre and Watson of Plymouth, who had previously created the memorial window close by. The necessity to use Mr Snell for the colouring implies that this was before Charles Gait had ‘learned the way it was done in medieval times’ (Chayor, 1990 p. 65), thus bringing such work in-house. The reredos was a gift in memory of Revd John Buller Kitson, Rector for 34 years, who died in April 1923.
The structure of St Ildierna was restored by Edmund H. Sedding in 1908 (Lansallos, undated), though none of the furniture by V. Pinwill appears to date from that time. In February 2005 an arson attack occurred, in which the organ was destroyed and the roofs, ceilings and windows of the Lady Chapel, chancel and the eastern part of the nave were badly damaged. Fortunately, the majority of the furniture, including the medieval bench ends and the PInwill work, was saved.
Sanctuary Table – Photograph (PWDRO 116/55) carver not specified; date unknown
Altar Rails – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) carver not specified; 1912
A newspaper article of October 1912 states:
Beautiful altar rails in carved oak have been placed in Lansallos Church by members of the congregation. The design of the work, which was carried out by Rashleigh Pinwill, Plymouth, consists of massive arches supported by carved pillars with a moulded rail super-mounting them. The supports between the arches are carved with vine leaves. Two kneeling angels are carved in the round on either side of the entrance, and face each other in the act of praying. The wings and drapery have been very finely treated, and the carvings give an admirable finish to the entrance (WB, 1912a).
The photographs at PWDRO do not state which architect was involved in the design of these altar rails. A bill from R. F. Wheatly for making and fixing altar rails at Lansallos is held at CRO (P114/2/2), but the angels were certainly carved from earlier designs by Sedding, who, by this time was in partnership with Wheatly. The rails bear an inscription stating that they are in memory of A. H. Langridge, Rector 1907-09. This brief memorial hides the tragic story that Revd Langridge died in Lucknow after a painful illness, having gone out to India with his wife from Cornwall for a change of air (TST, 1909).
Bosses – Newspaper article (WB, 1912a) carver not specified; 1912
The article in the West Briton quoted above goes on to state that the roof and other parts of the church had been renovated recently and a number of bosses copied from exisiting old ones had been put up. It is highly likely that these bosses were carved by Pinwill company.
Lectern – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; after 1926
This lectern, featuring the symbols of the four evangelists at the base, is quite similar to the one at Postbridge, also designed by Wheatly, but created a little later. It is a memorial to Frances Anne Taylor, who died in September 1926.
Pulpit – Photograph (PWDRO 116/55, 244/2 & 244/6) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; after 1935
This beautifully carved pulpit, showing scenes from the life of Jesus, was given in memory of Francis Buller Howell (died 1918) and Charles Alexander Howell (died 1926), both of Ethy, and in commemoration of years of service to the church by Rev. H. D. Streatfeild between 1923 and 1935.
An appeal for funds to ‘rescue the fine old Parish Church... from the ruin with which it is threatened’ (TC, 1903a p. 8) was made by the Vicar of Lanteglos by Fowey in May 1903 and a faculty for restoration and reseating was granted in June of the same year (CRO P116/2/6). The sensitive restoration by Edmund H. Sedding was completed in February 1906 (WMN, 1906b), and, according to the guide (Lanteglos by Fowey, undated), all the Pinwill woodcarving dates from this period.
Pulpit – Photograph (PWDRO 116/110 & 244/5) no carver specified; 1903-06
The design of this pulpit is similar to others at Crantock, Gorran, Lewannick, Linkinhorne, St Breward, St Buryan and St Erme. It is mentioned in a newspaper report about the re-opening of the church as being the work of the Misses Rashleigh Pinwill (WMN, 1906b).
Choir Stalls – Photograph (PWDRO 116/56, 244/4 & 244/5) no carver specified; 1903-06
The poppy heads at Lanteglos are of the naturalistic Art Nouveau style used to great effect at Crantock and at Weare, Somerset, a few years before. Some of the designs at Lanteglos are very similar to ones elsewhere and have obviously been adapted, but they are nevertheless exquisitely produced.
Font Cover – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) no carver specified; 1903-06
This confection of a font cover is beautifully carved and surmounted by the medieval symbol of piety, the pelican feeding her chicks, and incorporates the ‘dolphin’ motif, found commonly in Cornwall on post-Reformation bench ends, including some in this church.
Alabaster Panel Restoration – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) no carver specified; 1903-06
The annotation next to the photograph of this panel in PWDRO states that it was ‘dug up’ in the church during the work there and restored. It depicts the martyrdom of St Lawrence lying bound on a gridiron while a man beneath stokes the flames with bellows.
Bench Ends Restoration – Newspaper article (WMN, 1906b) Misses Rashleigh Pinwill; 1903-06
A report prior to the re-opening of the church in 1906 states that the medieval benches ‘have been most carefully repaired by the Misses Rashleigh Pinwill’ (WMN, 1906b)
Tower Screens (3) – Guide (Lanteglos by Fowey, undated) Misses Rashleigh Pinwill; 1903-06
Altar Rails – Guide (Lanteglos by Fowey, undated) Misses Rashleigh Pinwill; 1903-06
The only source for the three tower screens and the altar rails is the church guide, which states that they date from the Sedding restoration and were the work of the Misses Rashleigh Pinwill of Plymouth.
In the modern era, the restoration and embellishment of the church of St Mary Magdalene has employed some of the finest ecclesiastical carvers locally available. The 1892-94 restoration, designed by John Dando Sedding, who died before the work was begun, included reseating of the nave and aisles (Hutton, undated). HE (Launceston) states that the bench ends made for this purpose were carved by Arnold Fellows, while the south and north parclose screens, 1904 and 1913, respectively, are the work of John Northcott of Ashwater and the alabaster carving in the reredos was carried out by Harry Hems of Exeter.
Chancel Screen – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) no carver specified; 1911
This screen, designed by Edmund H. Sedding and executed by Rashleigh Pinwill (WMN, 1911d), is ‘a work of art’ and ‘as fine as anything imported... from London’ (Jenkins, 1999, p. 75). The photograph at PWDRO shows the screen installed in the church but lacking the figures of six saints that were added over the next three years (Hutton, undated). Those already in place in 1911 were St Mary Magdalene standing in the centre and the seated figures of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These four are identical to the figures in the reredos at Ermington (installed the same year) and in the screen at St Erth (installed 1912), both of which were also designed by Sedding. According to history boards inside the church, the screen cost £375.
Reredos Surround – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2) no carver specified; 1911
It is unusual to see the work of two carvers combined in one piece. The central part of the reredos, a carving in alabaster of The Transfiguration of Christ, is the work of Harry Hems of Exeter, according to the history boards inside the church, whereas the carved surround in wood is by Rashleigh Pinwill, and both are dated to 1911 (Hutton, undated). Apparently, opinion on the quality of the figure is divided, though the woodcarving ‘invites less qualified admiration’ (Ibid. p. 29).
Font Cover and Panelling – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) no carver specified; 1914
A new font was installed in 1914 and the old one inverted to form the base, an act described by the guide as ‘restoring zeal... somewhat unhinged’ (Hutton, undated p. 31). The towering font cover, topped with a characteristic Pinwill dove, and the panelling behind it, were made at the same time. A plaque on the wall states that the font cover was given in memory of Thomas Jackson Nunns, Vicar 1890 to 1907, who had been the force behind the restoration of that period.
Seats (16) – Photographs (PWDRO 116/57) V. Pinwill carver; 1934
One of the photographs in PWDRO shows seven bench ends and is labelled ‘Part of set of twelve seats North aisle’, whereas the other image illustrates the back of one of four seats located at the rear of the nave. All the seats have ends with carved borders of various designs, and the set in the north aisle has a carved front and back. The latter bears an inscription stating that it is in memory Thomas Johnes Llewellin (died 1933) of St Stephen’s House. The other seat back in the nave is carved with a border of seaweed, fish and seahorses, in a church that is probably as far from the sea as one can be in Cornwall, but a familiar theme of Pinwill carving, conceived in designs by Sedding and perpetuated in those by Wheatly. The faculty plan submitted in June 1934 was drawn up by R. F. Wheatly (CRO D/R 129).
Figures of Saints (6) – Newspaper article (WMN, 1925) Miss Pinwill carver; 1925
The reredos on which these figures stand is a memorial to three members of the same family. In about 1910 the reredos without figures was erected in memory of Alice Uny Chads, who drowned in a tragic bathing accident on Lelant beach in 1908. Her father, Captain J. Hanbury Chads, died in 1916 and a carving of the Crucifixion was inserted in the middle panel as a memorial to him. When his widow, Alice A. Chads, died in 1925, six figures of Celtic saints were placed in the side panels, very similar in style and size to those in Truro Cathedral. The Western Morning News article reports that they were ‘beautifully carved by Miss Pinwill, of Plymouth’ (Ibid. p. 9) and lists the saints as Winwoloe, Ia, Uny, Gwinear, Anta and Ergh, although the church guide replaces Gwinear with Phillack (Lelant, undated). The reredos was originally in the sanctuary but was moved to the Lady Chapel in 1973.
WWI Memorial Panels – Photograph (PWDRO 116/58 & 244/6) V. Pinwill carver; after 1918
The photograph in PWDRO shows only the two panels depicting St George killing the dragon and St Martin of Tours cutting off part of his cloak for the beggar and there is no indication of their purpose. Although the photograph is in black and white, it is obvious the panels are coloured and gilded, but one is still completely unprepared for their gloriousness in reality. They form part of a WWI memorial with the names of the dead between the low relief carvings of the Saints. It is not clear whether the whole of the memorial or merely the panels were the work of V. Pinwill. The memorial was later adapted to commemorate the dead of Lewannick in WWII.
Pulpit – Faculty (CRO D/R 11/22) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1933
On a visit to Lewannick church in June 2012 to see the panels described above, the pulpit seemed similar to others shown in photographs at PWDRO but nothing identical was found. However, at CRO a faculty for Lewannick was discovered, granted in February 1933, for the removal of the old pulpit and its replacement with a carved wood pulpit. The faculty plan is annotated ‘V. Pinwill Carver 9 Queen Anne Ter Plymouth’ and ‘Architect R. F. Wheatly Truro’ and is indeed the one now in the church. It is very similar in design to several other pulpits made for Cornish churches at Crantock, Gorran, Lanteglos by Fowey, Linkinhorne, St Breward, St Buryan and St Erme.
Linkinhorne church contains some good modern carving, aside from that by V. Pinwill. In particular, the tower screen includes a delightful border crowded with gulls, fish, seaweed, rope, crabs and crab pots, the work of Herbert Read of Exeter in 1967-68 (Hugh Harrison, unpublished).
Pulpit – no documentary evidence
This pulpit is so similar in design to those at Crantock, Gorran, Lanteglos by Fowey, St Breward, St Buryan and St Erme that it has to be from the Pinwill workshop, although there is no documentary evidence, as yet, to substantiate this.
Lady Chapel Furnishings – Chaytor (1990) Miss Pinwill carver; date unknown
Chaytor states that ‘this was a reconstruction of the Lady Chapel which Miss Pinwill was invited to undertake and which involved her in a new role’ (Ibid. p. 68). This was to choose the materials for curtains around the altar and for kneelers, etc. The implication is that V. Pinwill also carried out carving work for the reconstruction, such as the altar, cross, candlesticks and riddel posts, all of which are in a modern style. A clergy stall and an altar rail in the Lady Chapel may also be her work, although there are no photographs of any of these items at PWDRO to verify this.
Parclose Screens (2) – Photographs (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) carver not specified; around 1900
These screens represent much earlier work than the Lady Chapel seating and screens described below. A ‘parclose screen and other work for Liskeard Church, from original designs by Mr. Sedding’ were placed on display in June 1900 in an exhibition of wood carving, ancient and modern, in the Royal Hotel, Plymouth, and described as ‘charmingly executed’ (WMN, 1900 p. 4). There are four parclose screens of similar design in St Martin’s church and it is entirely possible that they were all executed by Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co. around this time.
Lady Chapel Seating – Photographs (PWDRO 116/59 & 244/2) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1927-37
Designs for the new Lady Chapel were produced in January 1927 and work progressed over the next ten years (CRO AD889/19 & X272/44/1-8). Funding appears to have come almost entirely from parishioners, as dedications abound, on seating, screens and panelling. In April 1928, the Western Morning News reported that a pair of beautifully carved seats with desk fronts had been placed in the new Lady Chapel by Edward Hoskin of Cartuther Barton in memory of his two sons and his wife (WMN, 1928). These are situated at the front of the chapel and are the most elaborate. The desk fronts feature a border of seaweed and fish, interlaced with a ribbon bearing part of the Magnificat, and the desk ends are finished on top with semi-kneeling angels, typical of Pinwill work. Other seating was added later, including four benches dedicated in 1933 with ends bearing emblems of the donors (WMN, 1933c) and another designed in 1937 (CRO X272/44/1-8) and dedicated to, among others, George James Glencross, who died in 1927 aged 15.
Lady Chapel Screens (3) – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1927-after 1934
The three screens that enclose the Lady Chapel were also erected as and when funds were available, with the eastern-most, shown in the photograph at PWDRO, being the first. It is a memorial to Dr William Nettle (died 1925), Vicar’s Warden for 40 years, and is dated 1927. The middle screen was designed in August 1927 (CRO X272/44/1-8) and features various musical instruments, although it is unclear when it was installed. The third screen may have been put in place in two stages, as a newspaper article of 1933 reports on the dedication of four benches and ‘a screen up to the transom’ (WMN, 1933c p. 6) but there are no further details on its completion. It is a memorial to George Martyn of Tremedden, who died in June 1934 aged 89.
Lady Chapel Altar Rail – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; after 1927
The altar Rail appears in the photographs at PWDRO and is featured in plans for the Lady Chapel dated January 1927 (CRO X272/44/1-8). It does not bear a dedication but the cost may nevertheless have been met by donations.
Lady Chapel Lectern – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; after 1927
A lectern with a square base is shown in the photographs at PWDRO, the footprint of which matches one shown in front of the altar rail in one of the plans for the Lady Chapel (CRO AD889/19). However, on a visit in August 2012 this lectern was not evident and may no longer be in use.
Lady Chapel Panelling – Newspaper article (WMN, 1938b) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; before 1938
There are no photographs in PWDRO of the panelling in the Lady Chapel, although the proposed design for the seating allows for ‘Future Panelling’ (CRO AD889/19). A newspaper article in 1938 reports that the chapel ‘has been completed by the panelling of the south and west walls, in commemoration of well-known Liskeard people’ (WMN, 1938b p. 5) and states that the work was carried out by V. Pinwill. There are numerous dedications on the panelling, including ones to Elizabeth Jane Hooper (died 1938), Mary Elizabeth Moon (died 1936), Emily Beatrice Wainwright (died 1938) and Richard Henry Lee, five times Mayor of Liskeard (died 1937).
Base of Twelvth-century Crucifix – Chaytor (1990) Miss Pinwill carver; date unknown
Chaytor states that an interesting commission carried out by Violet Pinwill was the restoration of the base of a twelvth-century Byzantine silver and enamel crucifix. It was of great value and came with instructions that it should be kept in a bank when not in use. A new base was made for it from a block of ebony.
See under St Martin-by-Looe
The church of St Mary in East Looe was closed as a place of worship in 1982 (John Trethewey, warden, St Martin-by-Looe, pers. comm.) and ‘inelegantly’ converted to residential use (Beacham & Pevsner, 2014 p. 319). The present location of the furnishings listed below is unknown.
Chancel Screen – Faculty Petition (CRO D/R 5/21) carver not specified; 1928
Organ Screen or Choir Vestry Screen – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1928
Parclose Screen – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1928
Three, possibly four, screens were made for this church but only two are shown in photographs at PWDRO. Without the actual screens with which to cross-reference, it is difficult to verify exactly what was installed. A faculty petition was submitted in 1927 for the erection of an oak chancel screen, a wooden choir vestry screen and a parclose screen between choir and choir vestry (CRO D/R 5/21). Three screens, including one referred to as an organ screen, were then installed and dedicated in August 1928 by the Bishop of Truro (WMN, 1928d). It is possible that there were, in fact, four screens or that an organ screen was substituted for a choir vestry screen or that what was called an organ screen may have also served to divide off the choir vestry. The photograph of the organ screen in PWDRO shows a single cornice border featuring seaweed, fish and crabs and below it five bays of leaded glass panels and it was this same photograph that appeared in the newspaper report of the dedication. Plans exist at CRO for both the organ screen and the chancel screen (CRO X272/45/6-10) but not for the parclose screen.
Reredos – Photograph (PWDRO 116/60) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1934
A newspaper report describes this elaborately carved and coloured reredos in detail (WMN, 1934e). It has two niches containing figures of St Nicholas and St Mary and five panels, over which are canopies, cornice moulding and cresting. The article stated that it was a further addition to so much fine woodcarving erected in the church in recent years and that it was carried out by Miss Pinwill of Plymouth.
This rather picturesque church, sited on the quay at West Looe, has a fourteenth-century tower topped by a late nineteenth-century Italianate cupola (Beacham & Pevsner, 2014). Originally a chapel of ease, it was used for various purposes after the Reformation, but restored to a church again in 1852. Edmund H. Sedding gave the church a sensitive restoration in 1915-17 but the Pinwill work below is from a later period after his death.
Chancel Panelling – Photograph (PWDRO 116/60 & 244/1) R. Pinwill carver; after 1922
The photograph of the panelling is merely labelled ‘Looe Church, Cornwall’ but a visit to St Nicholas in February 2013 confirmed that this is where it is located. There is a dedication to the memory of Emma Grace Wills, who died in 1922. During an extensive restoration in 2004 it was found that considerable damage had been caused to the south wall by storm water and parts of the panelling were also in a poor state (Looe St Nicholas, undated). The damaged oak was replaced and the panelling reinstated. However, it was then heavily varnished and now has a dark, very shiny appearance that was never the style of Pinwill work.
Baptistery and Seating
A faculty petition was submitted in June 1932, with later plans by Cowell, Drewitt & Wheatly, for a baptistery and seats (CRO D/R 10/30). The faculty was granted in October 1932 and included a drain for the font and flooring in Delabole slate as well as the following carving work by V. Pinwill.
Font – Newspaper article (WMN, 1933d) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1933
A report in the Western Morning News in December 1933 about the dedication of the new font at St Nicholas is slightly ambiguous about who carried out the carving, whereas a later Letter to the Editor states categorically that the work was done by V. Pinwill of Plymouth (WMN, 1933e). It is a replica of the Norman font at St Stephen’s in Launceston, although by necessity was made from Blue Horton stone, rather than Cornish polyphant. The font cost £45 and was funded by a legacy (CRO D/R 10/30).
Panelling – Photograph (PWDRO 116/60) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1933
The photograph in PWDRO shows the panelling for the north wall behind the font that then continues at right angles to form the back of a stall (see below). The panelling was dedicated at the same time as the font (WMN, 1933d).
Memorial Stalls (5) – Photograph (PWDRO 116/60) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; Guide (Leggat & Leggat, 2003) Miss Pinwill carver; 1933-36
Only two stalls were specified in the faculty and two are shown in the photograph in PWDRO and would have been installed in 1933; the back of one is the panelling on the east side of the Baptistery. However, a guide states that five stalls were the work of ‘Miss Pinwell [sic] and her Associates of Plymouth; Charles Gale [sic] was her senior craftsman’ (Ibid. p. 5). The three later stalls, unlike the first two, feature seahorses and fish in borders around the edges of the ends; one is dated 1936.
Altar Rails – Chaytor (1990); Letters (CRO P128/2/33-45) V. Pinwill carver; 1938
Lostwithiel is in the list of churches supplied by Chaytor in which Violet Pinwill’s work exists but no further information is given on what may be found there. However, at CRO there is a collection of thirteen letters and postcards written by Violet Pinwill to the Vicar at Lostwithiel between October 1938 and January 1939 about the design, supply and fitting of a pair of altar rails. After several letters debating the design of the rails, the work was done just in time for Christmas. The fitting was carried out by a joiner on Christmas Eve, during of the very cold winters of 1938/39. There appears to have been a problem with the cement setting in the cold weather and there followed a complaint that the rails were wobbly. The church also wanted an inscription added afterwards, which was far more difficult than if it had been done in the workshop. Charles Gait was sent down to do the inscription but since he was ‘a carver he would not be doing the joiners work’, though he would assess the situation. Violet concluded that the rails had been moved before the cement was set but agreed to send a man (presumably a joiner) to repair the work. The letters end before the situation was resolved but the rails are currently fixed to the ground with bolts, which suggests that any repair work did not last. The bill of £12 11s for the altar rails and the inscription was settled in January 1939. The dedication is to Augusta Maria Hart, who died in June 1938. A faculty petition was submitted in October 1938 for the placing of carved oak altar rails in St George’s Chapel (CRO D/R 16/23).
Reredos and Altar – Newspaper article (WB, 1897a) E. H. Sedding architect, R. Pinwill carver; 1897
The only source for this work is a short announcement in the West Briton newspaper, stating that a ‘new carved oak reredos and altar, designed by Mr. Sedding, of Plymouth, have been placed in the south aisle of Madron Parish Church, being the gift of the late General Tremenheere. The work was executed by Messrs R. Pinwill & Co.’ (Ibid. p. 5). The altar features a large Celtic cross in the centre, but there is now no reredos in the south aisle chapel. Another reredos, carved by Harry Hems of Exeter in 1892 (Sue Andrew, Hems researcher, pers. comm.), is also now absent.
Chancel Screen Restoration – Photographs (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; 1903-05
There are four photographs in PWDRO of the screen at Madron, one showing the full width and the other three the north, chancel and south sections, respectively. A newspaper article about its dedication provides the information that the screen was restored by ‘Messrs Rashleigh, Pinwell & Co.’ from designs by Edmund H. Sedding (TC, 1903b). This was an enormous and expensive piece of work. The screen is about 53 feet wide and divided into 15 bays. Fifteenth-century carved panels were re-used to form the base, but the rest of the screen, with vaulting and carved cornice, was reproduced in darkened oak in medieval design. It seems, however, that not all of the decorative work was complete at the time of dedication. In February 1905 ‘several lengths of very fine cresting and moulding for the cornice of Madron church screen’ were exhibited in Plymouth (WMN, 1905a p. 8) and presumably installed soon afterwards. The work was the gift of Nora Bolitho of Laregan in memory of her parents, William (died 1895) and Mary Hichens (died 1902) of Polwithen.
Choir Stalls Screen – F. Minchinton & K. Green (pers. comms) V. Pinwill carver; after 1944
After his retirement in the mid 1950s, Hubert Minchinton, head carver to Violet Pinwill, took two of his grandchildren to Maker church. He told them that he had helped carve the screen dedicated to the Edgcumbe family. A visit in November 2013 confirmed that a half-screen separating the nave from the choir stalls bears a hallmark of the Pinwill company – two semi-kneeling angels in prayer. It is dedicated to Piers Richard Edgcumbe, who died in action near Dunkirk in 1940. The only son of Kenelm and Lilian Edgcumbe, Piers was second cousin once removed and heir presumptive to the 5th Earl of Mount Edgcumbe (National Trust, 2013). After the loss of Piers, his father and mother became 6th Earl and Countess of Mount Edgcumbe, respectively, in 1944. The inscription describes the parents as such and therefore the screen must date to after their succession. Featured on the screen are the arms of the Edgcumbe family, those of five maternal families, Eton, and Trinity College, Cambridge.
Altar Rails – Newspaper article (WMN, 1945) V. Pinwill carver; 1945
Another otherwise unrecorded item in Maker church is the subject of a newspaper article in the Western Morning News in October 1945. It reports that the Bishop of Truro visited Maker church to dedicate new sanctuary furnishings, including altar rails given in memory of Lieutenant R. L. V. Little, who died in action aboard HMS Aurora in October 1943. The rails were carved by Miss Pinwill of Plymouth and feature coloured plaques representing the arms of HMS Aurora, the ship itself and a naval crown in gold on blue. A faculty petition was submitted in December 1944 for the erection of memorial oak altar rails (CRO D/R 22/5).
Madonna and Child Roof Boss – Photograph (PWDRO 116/61) V. Pinwill carver; after 1944
A plaque on the wall beneath the boss states that it commemorates Jane Frances Deborah Eagar (died 1944). The Madonna and child are posed in a style depicted in a painting by Guercino used many times by V. Pinwill, notably on the pulpit at St Mary’s Abbotsbury.
Altar – Photograph (PWDRO 116/61) V. Pinwill carver; 1949
The altar consists of three panels, each bearing a symbol of Christ in gold and silver, with the inscription ‘Gloria In Excelsis Deo’ beneath. It was the gift of Colonel and Mrs Jerram and their daughters in 1949 (Dixon, 1968).
Roof Bosses (4) and Roof Angels (2) – Photograph (PWDRO 116/61) V. Pinwill carver; after 1951
These six items are grouped together in nave roof just outside the sanctuary and appear to commemorate two people. One of the bosses bears the dates ‘1913’ and ‘1943’ and the initials ‘DWD’, while another has the dates ‘1886’ and ‘1951’ and the initials ‘MJD’. The bosses and angels augment earlier ones in the sanctuary roof, not carved by V. Pinwill.
Restoration of the fabric of the church at Marhamchurch by Edmund H. Sedding, together with the installation of several new stained glass windows, was completed in 1907 (WB, 1907a). The lectern and choir stalls below may also be from this period but no evidence for this has yet been found.
Lectern – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; date unknown
An unlabelled photograph in PWDRO has been identified as the one at Marhamchurch.
Choir Stalls – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) no carver specified; date unknown
There are several photographs of the Marhamchurch choir stalls in PWDRO. Some show only the bench ends with their finely carved diamond-shaped poppy heads, while others are of the completed stalls. One of the latter is taken within the workshop and provides a rare glimpse of the interior – with corrugated roof, internal drainpipe and an early Health and Safety notice.
Altar Rails – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1930
These altar rails are a memorial to Georgina Annie Griffiths, who died in August 1929. Faculty plans were submitted in December 1929 (CRO D/R 97/1-3) and a faculty petition in January 1930 (CRO D/R 8/25).
Maryfield church was built 1864-71 to designs by the Gothic Revival architect William White as a place of worship for the Pole-Carew (now Carew Pole) family of nearby Antony House (Beacham & Pevsner, 2014).
Screen – Photograph (PWDRO 116/62 & 244/2) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1926
This richly carved screen, part of a memorial to Sir Reginald Pole-Carew, given by his wife Lady Beatrice, was described in detail in a newspaper report prior to its installation (WMN, 1926a). The panels of the base bear the family crest, a carving of his sword, and details of Sir Reginald’s life and work. It entirely fills the north chancel arch and includes the figures of St Michael and St George within the tracery and those of Christ and two adoring angels above the cornice, all the subjects used being entirely Lady Beatrice’s own ideas. The report states that the architect was R. F. Wheatly and that the whole of the carving was carried out by V. Pinwill of Plymouth.
Benches (4) and Panelling – Photograph (PWDRO 116/62 & 244/2) V. Pinwill carver; 1926
Within the north transept and facing the screen are four benches given by the sons and daughters of Sir Reginald. Three of the bench ends depict the name saints of the donors: St John, St Mary and St Patrick, while the fourth bears the figure of Victory (WMN, 1926). The panelling, donated by the brother and sister and other relatives of Sir Reginald, runs along the back and north side of the benches to complete the memorial.
The memorial to Sir Reginald was the subject of an exhibition held at the workshop in St Lawrence Yard, advertised in the Western Morning News (1926b) as being open to the public, admission free, from 9am to 6pm. This is only the second known occasion on which such an exhibition took place.
Restoration work was undertaken in 1894-95 by Edmund H. Sedding (Beacham & Pevsner, 2014) and it seems highly likely that the work below was undertaken at this time.
Sanctuary Roof – Chaytor (1990) R. Pinwill carvers; probably 1894-95
The sanctuary roof at St Mawgan in Meneage is listed in a handbill illustrated in Chaytor (1990) listing work already undertaken by Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co. The handbill announces the change of address of the company from Buckland Terrace to Athenaeum Street and is therefore datable from directories to about 1896.
Lectern – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) no carver specified; date unknown
The lectern features a vine pattern on the front face and a ring of roses on the upright. It is currently not in use in the church and faces towards the tower screen, although a photograph of it features in the church guide (Mawgan-in-Pydar, undated).
The church at Menheniot contains two fine pieces of woodcarving by Harry Hems of Exeter: the pulpit with panels depicting stirring maritime scenes, and the lectern incorporating a large figure of a former Rector.
Font Cover – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) carver not specified; 1914
This large and elaborate font cover requires the use of ropes and pulleys to operate. It is a beautiful piece, octagonal in shape, with cherub faces and ‘dolphins’ around the base and is surmounted by a typical Pinwill dove. An inscription includes the date of 1914.
Parclose Screen – Photograph (PWDRO 116/63) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; after 1931
The screen sits on the south side of the chancel, on the back of the choir stalls, and is ornamented by a running design of vines and birds along the cornice. It is a memorial to Henry William Thomas who died in 1931.
Reredos and Panelling – Newspaper article (WMN, 1934) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1934
A richly carved reredos and oak panelling covering the entire east end of the church was installed in July 1934 at a cost of about £140. A report in the Western Morning News described the work and stated that it was designed by R. F. Wheatly and carried out by Miss Pinwill of Plymouth.
This ‘gaunt, severe Gothic’ church was designed by William White and built ‘in bleak country on a hilltop site’ two miles from the village in the mid nineteenth century (Beacham & Pevsner, 2014 p. 358). The spire and tower were removed in 1898, the latter rebuilt by Cowell, Drewitt & Wheatly in 1928, a few years after the work below. Mithian Church was declared redundant in 2009 (churchofengland.org) and is in the process of being converted to residential accommodation (August 2016).
Screen and Rood – Plans (CRO X272/54/1-4) R. F. Wheatly architect, no carver specified; 1924
Four plans for a screen and rood, including a full-size tracing of the rood baluster, are deposited at CRO. The screen diverges from the usual Gothic Revival and owes more to the Jacobean style. The lack of ornamentation on the screen acts to focus attention on the figures in the rood above. These are identical to those carved for Truro Diocesan Training College chapel a few years earlier, verifying that they are products of the V. Pinwill company, despite the absence of any other evidence. The screen and rood were erected in memory of Revd Benjamin Smart, Vicar of St Peter’s for 30 years, with the cost of the screen being defrayed by public subscription and the rood, in English oak, the gift of the family (WMN, 1924). They were dedicated in October 1924 by the Chancellor of Truro Cathedral.
The church at Morwenstow, dating back to Norman times, is built in a most beautiful setting overlooking a valley that runs down to the sea. It will forever be associated with the eccentic Revd Stephen Hawker, to whom its restoration in the 1850s is credited (Beacham & Pevsner, 2014). For the author, it will always remain an exceptional place where the work of the Pinwill sisters was first encountered and a fascination began.
Altar and Reredos – Photographs (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) carver not specified; 1908 and/or 1910
The informative guide (Tomlin, 2003) states that the altar and reredos were designed by Edmund S. (sic) Sedding in 1908 and carved by the Pinwill sisters of Plymouth. However, the date of the altar is thrown into question by a report in the Hartland & West Country Chronicle of 30 May 1910. This states that ‘in memory of their father and mother... a considerable sum of money will be given [by the Waddon Martyn family] towards the Carving of the panels in the Altar, the design being already in Mr. Sedding’s hands’ (HWCC, 1910 p. 3). This implies that the altar at least was not then made. The parents in question, Revd William Waddon Martyn, Rector of Lifton, and his wife Maria, both of nearby Tonacombe Manor, died in 1900 and 1908, respectively. The altar features small gilded carvings of grapes that came from Tonacombe Manor, hanging above three arches over deep relief carvings of two angels and the Lamb of God. One of these angels, clashing a pair of cymbals, is shown in a separate (unlabelled) photograph in PWDRO 244/4, presumably before insertion in the altar. The reredos is quite different in style and may have been inspired by the Tudor panelling at Tonacombe Manor. Inserted in the reredos, beneath a heavy pediment, is a cartoon by Giovanni Battista Piazzetta (1683-1754) and below that three engravings forming a triptych of the Crucifixion by John Baptist Jackson dated 1740. These, states the guide (Tomlin, 2003), were all bequeathed by Mrs Waddon Martyn of Tonacombe Manor, presumably when she died in 1908. Her will was not proved until July 1909 (TNA Probate 1908), giving credence to the idea that the reredos was also not installed until 1910. Plans for the altar and reredos are deposited at CRO (X272/56/1-5).
Angel Lectern – Guide (Tomlin, 2003) Edmund H. Sedding designer; Photograph (PWDRO 244/4) carver not specified; after 1910
The guide states that Edmund S. (sic) Sedding also designed the angel for the lectern, which is dedicated to N. H. Lawrence Martyn, who died in 1910, and was the son of Revd amd Mrs Waddon Martyn of Tonacombe Manor. It seemed likely that the lectern was carved by V. Pinwill and this was eventually confirmed by the discovery of an unlabelled photograph of the piece in PWDRO 244/4. The plan for the lectern is deposited at CRO (X272/56/6).
Cross – Photograph (PWDRO 244/3) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
Unknown item – Photographs (PWDRO 116/109 & 116/117)
Three unannotated photographs were identified as being of the same church interior. One in PWDRO 116/109 includes the eastern end of the south aisle in which there is a distinctive seventeenth-century monument with two standing and two kneeling figures. In PWDRO 116/117 is another view showing, in the background, the monument mentioned above. In the foreground is part of a box pew with inlay work of coats of arms and the date 1724. Another photograph in PWDRO 116/109 looking towards the west appears to be the same church, as the ceiling lamp is identical to ones in the previous photographs and the roof and bench ends are similar. The church was finally identified through a photograph of the monument in Beacham & Pevsner (2014). It is to Henry Spoure (died 1688) and is described as ‘one of the most endearing monuments in Cornwall’ (Ibid. p. 386). There is nothing in these photographs to indicate which of the various carved pieces of furniture is being depicted as the subject. The only significant new work in the timeframe of Pinwill woodcarving is the reseating with oak benches in 1897. These have finely carved ends with sixteenth-century designs but were ‘reportedly made by J. Northcott of Ashwater’ (Davis, 2013 p. 6). It therefore remains a mystery as to why the photographs of St Torney church are in the Pinwill archive.
Memorial Plaque Restoration – Photograph and Manuscript (PWDRO 116/64) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1934
This was an unusual commission to carry out. It involved the restoration of a brass plaque that appears to have been furnished with a new carved wooden frame. The plaque commemorates the restoration by Richard Buller in 1835 of the adjacent memorial erected in 1616 by his ancestor Jacob Wentworth Buller. It is written in Latin and the manuscript that accompanies the photograph is a translation into English by Revd Dr Chaytor, Violet Pinwill’s brother-in-law, dated 1934.
In Beacham & Pevsner (2014 p. 439) the chancel furnishings listed below are described as the ‘best feature of the interior’, although that is after the church was ‘much restored and rebuilt’ by J. P. St Aubyn.
Reredos and Panelling – Photograph (PWDRO 116/65 & 244/1) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1926
There is a striking resemblance between this reredos and the one created for St Erney three years later. The differences are mostly in the beading designs and in the fact that the five niches at St Erney have never been used for their intended purpose – to house statues (WMN, 1929). At Perranuthnoe, the central niche contains a statue of Christ, while the other four house figures of St Michael, St Mary the Virgin, St John the Evangelist and St Piran. According to a report in The Cornishman (TC, 1926), the reredos and the panelling either side was presented to the church in memory of Charles Aldington by his wife.
Organ Screen – Newspaper article (TC, 1928) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1928
The dedication service of a new five bay organ screen at Perranuthnoe, again presented in memory of Charles Aldington (died 1922) was reported in the newspaper. A faculty petition dated July 1929 is for the organ screen, choir stalls and chancel screen to be erected ‘in accordance with amended plans’ (CRO D/R 7/44).
Clergy Stalls and Choir Stalls – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1930
The clergy and choir stalls bear two characteristic features of Pinwill woodcarving. The borders along the back of the stalls consist of fish and seahorses swimming between trailing seaweed, while the ends are surmounted by semi-kneeling angels. The stalls are a further gift in memory of Charles Aldington, a former General Manager of the Great Western Railway (TC, 1930).
Chancel Screen – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1930
The screen and choir stalls were installed at the same time and are structurally integral. The newspaper report of their dedication describes the work as being ‘of outstanding merit’ and the ten bay screen as ‘magnificently carved and constructed’ and ‘the most notable addition to the old churches of West Cornwall for a considerable time’ (TC, 1930 p. 5). The screen is again dedicated to Charles Aldington, with his initials and those of his wife forming part of the design.
Roof Bosses (Restoration) – Newspaper article (TC, 1930) V. Pinwill carver; 1930
The report in The Cornishman on the dedication of the chancel screen and choir stalls above also mentions, almost in passing, that the ‘ancient bosses in the chancel roof have all been restored, coloured and gilded’ and then goes on to say that the ‘whole work... was carved and erected by Miss Pinwill, Plymouth’ (TC, 1930 p. 5), which implies that the roof bosses were part of her remit.
Wall Panel – Hedges (2005) V. Pinwill; 1930s
It has yet to be determined to which wall panel this may refer.
Altar – Photograph (PWDRO 116/65) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1935
Altar Rails – Faculty Petition (CRO D/R 13/32); Faculty Plans (CRO D/R 118); 1935
While a photograph of the altar exists in PWDRO (116/65), there is none of the altar rails, even though the faculty petition and plans, dated 1935, are for both items.
Font Cover – Photograph (PWDRO 116/117); 1952
The guide (Perranuthnoe, undated) states that the font cover was presented to the church by Miss C.C. Astley in 1952 and that date and the initials CCA are inscribed on one of the panels. In an unannotated photograph in PWDRO 116/117 of various unknown items, there are what appear to be pieces of this font cover. Another item in the photograph is dated 1951, which ties in with the date given by the church for the font cover. It is very similar in design to the one at Menheniot, despite being four-, as opposed to eight-sided. It has similar cherub faces, Renaissance ‘dolphins’ and cresting around the base and is surmounted by a typical Pinwill dove.
Font Cover – Hedges (2005); 1930s
Ron Dustan’s recollections are the only source for this piece but the font cover is immediately recognisable as Pinwill work. It is one of several made to a similar design, including those at Broadclyst and Tavistock in Devon and Kenwyn and Landulph in Cornwall. Despite Pillaton being relatively close to Plymouth, this was the only commission won by V. Pinwill to carve church furnishings there. Much of the modern work at Pillaton was done by Herbert Read of Exeter, who married Ida H. Hocking, daughter of Revd Richard Hocking, Rector of Pillaton 1894 to 1945.
Poundstock church is fortunate to have retained a Guildhouse (or Church House), ‘meticulously’ repaired and restored in 1919 by Edmund H. Sedding and restored again between 2005-09 (Beacham & Pevsner, 2014 p. 460). It continues to fulfil the function of centuries by being a community resource. A major restoration of the church was carried out between 1896 and 1905 from plans drawn up by George H. Fellowes Prynne. Most of the woodcarving during this period was carried out by John Northcott of Ashwater (Edwards, 2000), while the work by V. Pinwill appears to predate slightly the restoration of the Guildhouse by Sedding.
Statue of Madonna and Child – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) no carver specified; after 1915
This stone statue has been placed in a pre-Reformation niche in the window adjoining the Lady Chapel screen. It bears an inscription stating that it is in memory of Isabella Swinnerton who died in April 1915.
Tower Screen – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) no carver specified; after 1916
This three-bay tower screen with carved cornice bears a memorial inscription to William Marks of Poundstock and Mary Marks of New Mills, both of whom died in 1916.
Chapel Screen – Photographs (PWDRO 116/66, 244/4 & 244/5) Edmund H. Sedding and B. Stallybrass architects, R. Pinwill / V. Pinwill carver; 1917
There are three photographs related to this screen at PWDRO. One shows some of the borders used in the screen (244/4 & 244/5), another is of the completed screen face-on (116/66, 244/4 & 244/5) and a further one is at an angle (244/5). The three copies of the face-on photograph include a card marked ‘R. Pinwill carver’, but of particular interest is the one in 244/5, on which has been added ‘carving all by self V. Pinwill’. Many of Violet’s employees were away at the Front at this time, probably leaving her short-handed for this quite large piece of work. She rose to the occasion and showed she was still an expert carver, capable of producing stunning work. In her only interview Violet was asked how long the screen took to make and she replied ‘About ten weeks, but I was working on other carvings at the same time’ (WWN, 1934 p. 4). The guide (Edwards, 2000 p. 21) describes the screen as the ‘finest modern woodwork’ in the church. A boss on the right-hand side of the screen bears the date May 1917, although it was not attached in the photographs, which were taken prior to dispatch.
Within Probus church are memorials to two of Violet Pinwill’s great grandparents. The window on the north side of the Lady Chapel is in memory of Revd William Stackhouse of Trehane, who died in 1861. His mother was Mary Rashleigh, after whom Violet’s older sister was named. William’s wife, Sarah (died 1845), is memorialised in the font, on which are carved part of the Rashleigh coat of arms (Probus, undated).
Tomb – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) R. Pinwill carver; 1914
This enormous and unusual project consists of a tomb in Purbeck stone in memory of the Hawkins family and of Sir Christopher Hawkins (1758-1829) of Trewithen Manor near Probus. It features four semi-kneeling pall-bearers in Cavalier attire, three of whom hold on to the top slab with a gloved hand. There are four photographs taken from different angles, two in the studio and the others in Probus churchyard. The ones in the studio were taken prior to the slab being placed on top of the tomb, which was probably done when it was in place in the churchyard. Insertion was only possible by the slab being made in two sections and by the lack of a grasping hand on one corner. This clever design was by Edmund H. Sedding (WMN, 1921a), although his role is not acknowledged on the photographs. The tomb is now showing serious signs of wear from weathering.
HE (Redruth) states that most of the church of St Andrew was built 1883-84 but it was not completed until 1937-38, to designs by R. F. Wheatly drawn up in 1927.
Reredos – Photographs (PWDRO 116/67) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1938
There are two photographs in PWDRO 116/67, one showing some of the components of the reredos prior to dispatch, and the other the complete piece in place in the church. A pencilled sketch with coloured inks, dated January 1937 and prepared for the architect, indicates that the original centre panel design was of Christ the King but this was altered to show the crucifixion scene (CRO P256/2/106). It is an enormous and elaborate piece of work, illustrated in an article in the Western Morning News (WMN, 1938c). This states that either side of the almost life-size crucifixion scene are the figures of St Andrew, St Christopher, St Uny and St Ninian, with their emblems carved on shields. It states that the reredos was the gift of Sir Edward Nicholl and confirms that the work was carried out by Miss Pinwill of Plymouth.
Candle Holder (2) – Photograph (PWDRO 116/67) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1938
In the photograph at PWDRO showing the above reredos in the church, there is one of a pair of candle holders that appear contemporaneous and to be decorated in the same way. A visit to St Andrew’s in August 2016 confirmed that the colours and decoration of the candle holders match that of the reredos, making it very likely that they were commissioned at the same time.
The church at Roche, having been extensively altered in 1822, was restored to its original plan by J. D. Sedding in 1890 (Beacham & Pevsner, 2014).
Choir Stalls and Screen – Letter (CRO P198/2/13/3) 1908
In a letter dated November 1908 deposited at CRO, John Stephens of St Austell provides advice to Revd A. Lowe of Roche about how to proceed on an order for choir stalls and a screen designed by E. H. Sedding and to be made by ‘Mr Rashleigh Pinwell’ for an estimated £145. It appears that the work was not carried out as the choir stalls presently at Roche are of a rather pedestrian design and not at all in the vein of the more inspired work by Sedding at this time. In addition, the only screen is one installed after 1928.
Altar Alterations – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2) V. Pinwill carver; 1930
The photograph in PWDRO shows a finished altar but a plan at CRO (P198/6/4/1) indicates that this work was for alterations to an exisiting piece, designed and executed by V. Pinwill. On the north wall of the sanctuary is a tablet in memory of Revd Albert Low, Rector of the parish 1903-21, who died June 1929. It states that the Holy Table was beautified and the tablet put up by his family. A faculty petition exists (CRO D/R 8/41) for the erection of the memorial tablet dated April 1930.
Pulpit – Photograph (PWDRO 116/68 & 244/5) V. Pinwill carver; 1914
The eight-sided pulpit features a figure of St Agnes in a canopied niche, with symbols of the Passion and a nativity scene on other faces. A brass plaque on one side states that it was erected to the memory of Martin Tredinnick Hitchens and his wife Nanny by their surviving children in 1914. A book about the church provides the extra detail that this carved oak pulpit was designed by Edmund H. Sedding (Benney & Mansell, 2007).
Pulpit – Guide (Dixon, 2009) V. Pinwill carver; 1950
The source for this piece is the guide to St Anthony church, which states that the pulpit, made in the workshop of Miss V. Pinwill at Plymouth, was installed in 1950 to replace a rather plain one. A faculty petition for the work was submitted in 1949 (CRO D/R 27/1).
Altar and Reredos – Photograph (PWDRO 116/69 & 244/5) R. Pinwill / V. Pinwill carver; 1908
The plain altar, adorned only with a Celtic cross, is in contrast to the reredos that contains two pictorial panels (the Annunciation and the Nativity) and figures of four saints (St Petroc, St Piran, St Breaca and St Columba), all sculpted in alabaster, surmounted by an elaborately carved oak canopy. The photograph in PWDRO 244/5 does not credit a carver but the same one in 116/69 has ‘R. Pinwill’ with the ‘R’ changed to a ‘V’, denoting the transitional period in which it was made. However, an article in the Church Times in June 1908 states that the new altar and reredos were designed by Edmund H. Sedding and that while the carving of the wood was carried out by Rashleigh Pinwill of Plymouth, the alabaster work was completed by Nathaniel Hitch of Vauxhall (CT, 1908). This sculptor created the magnificent Bath stone reredos in Truro Cathedral in 1887 (Truro Cathedral, 2006) and was later to produce the plaster maquette for the alabaster panel carved by Violet Pinwill for the reredos at Ermington (JTA). In the guide (St Breock, undated) it states that the reredos ‘bears four delightful statuettes of local saints, but Saint Breaca is female and patron saint of Breage, and not our St Briocus as was intended!’. The altar is not mentioned and is currently covered with a cloth.
St Breward lies in an area of Cornwall that is mostly bereft of Pinwill woodcarvings and so the work below is a welcome respite, despite lack of documentary evidence for two of the items.
Pulpit – no documentary evidence; 1902
The pulpit at St Breward bears a striking resemblance to several other pulpits made by V. Pinwill for Cornish churches at Crantock, Gorran, Lanteglos by Fowey, Lewannick, Linkinhorne, St Buryan and St Erme. The guide (St Breward, undated) states that the pulpit was erected in 1902.
Litany Desk – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; date unknown
Litany Desk – no documentary evidence; after 1912
This desk is very similar in design to one shown in an unannotated photograph identified as belonging to St Erme. It bears an inscription stating that it was given by parishioners and friends in memory of Revd John Lock (aged 28) and his sister Phoebe (aged 26) who were drowned in New Zealand (NZ) in February 1912. Revd Lock had gone to NZ with his sister to take up the post of Vicar at Ross and South Westland in December 1911 (natlib.govt.nz1). Their deaths were reported in the local press, which stated that they were trying to cross the Big Wanganui River when they were swept away and the body of Phoebe Lock was never retrieved (natlib.govt.nz2). The death of Revd John Lock was also remembered by his old school at Probus, where a brass plaque was erected in the church.
Pulpit – Newspaper article (WMN, 1905a) R. Pinwill carver; 1905
This piece is not represented in the photographs at PWDRO but a newspaper report on an exhibition in Plymouth in 1905 of work by Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co. describes a pulpit for St Buryan church. It states that the design consisted of ‘Gothic tracery and foliage, some of the detail being similar to that on the old screen in the church, to be in keeping with it’ (WMN, 1905 p. 8). The pulpit is, in fact, similar in design to others made by the Pinwill company over several decades, namely those at Crantock, Gorran, Lanteglos by Fowey, Lewannick, Linkinhorne, St Breward and St Erme.
Screen Restoration – Photographs (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) carver not specified; 1910
The church of St Buriana once boasted one of the best medieval screens in the County. According to the guide (Jago, 1998), it may have dated from the mid to late fifteenth century but in 1814 was mostly torn down and some of it carried away by parishioners for their own use. Fortunately, various pieces were thrown into the tower and others kept in a large wooden chest. The transformation of the church by the reinstatement of the screen is well-illustrated by a pair of photographs in PWDRO 244/4, showing the same view before and after (duplicated in 244/5). Not long before the restoration, Bond & Camm (1909) reported that the church had retained the lower portion of the screen and most of the carved beam that supported the rood loft on the west side, which is verified in the ‘before’ photograph. All the stored fragments were re-used and woven into new parts of the screen, to the designs of Edmund H. Sedding (WMN, 1921a). The old parts, which still retain their colour and gilding, were copied to create a faithful representation of the screen as it would have been. However, it is clear which sections are new, as no attempt was made to reproduce the colour and gilding. Also in 244/4 are two un-annotated photographs, both of original parts of the screen, one showing a close-up of parts of the running ornament and the other some of the panels in the base.
It appears that only the central section of the screen was restored at this time and was dedicated by the Bishop of St Germans in January 1910. The ‘after’ photograph in PWDRO shows the completed screen in front of the chancel but with two carved beams only across the south and north sides. The guide states that the Lady Chapel section was restored a few years later by Belgian refugees and that the northern end was completed in 1922 as a WWI memorial.
The running ornament in the canopy is the crowning glory of the screen. It features an array of fantastical creatures, such as a spotted green serpent, black demons with red mouths, blue and gold striped birds and a speckled unicorn being attacked by a winged dragon, as well as more familiar animals and human faces, all tightly intertwined with vegetation. The ornament does not repeat itself and is a feast of medieval imagination.
Bond & Camm (1909), on the basis of what remained prior to restoration, considered the screen at St Buryan to be one of two best examples of Cornish work, the other being at St Ewes. In contrast, Pevsner & Radcliffe (2000) considered that what remained of the original work was enough to show that it ‘must have been done by one of the best Devon workshops and not locally’ (Ibid. p. 162). The restoration work on this undoubtedly beautiful and unusual screen, whether made in Cornwall or Devon, was not without its critics. Not long after the restoration of the central portion, Cox (1912 p. 73) reported that through ‘a singular error of judgement, the true proportions... have been falsified, although traces of true levels are most obvious’. He did maintain, however, that the new carving work was excellent and well adapted to the original fragments.
The urban part of the parish of St Clement is now a suburb of Truro, although the church itself is far away on the Tresillian River (Beacham & Pevsner, 2014).
Retable – Photograph (PWDRO 116/102 & 244/1) V. Pinwill carver; 1930s
This item is photographed with two panels from a bench back for St Martin-by-Looe, which were made in the 1930s. A brass plaque states that it was given by parishioners and friends in memory of Revd Canon W. E. Graves, Vicar 1902 to 1922.
Desk Front and Desk End – Photograph (PWDRO 116/70) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; after 1922
One of the ends dating from 1510 (Cooke, undated) has been used to complete this desk in the south aisle. The new front and the other end were carved in memory of Catherine Childs-Clarke, who died at St Columb Rectory in July 1922.
Screen – Photograph (PWDRO 244/3) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; after 1928
The screen on the north side that encloses the choir vestry and organ chamber is dedicated to John Cawful Mackay (died 1909), Mary Elizabeth Mackay (died 1926) and Caroline Whitford (died 1928).
Jesus Chantry South Transept
The items below were commissioned as part of the restoration of the Jesus Chantry in the south transept. A faculty was granted in May 1932 to create a children's chapel and to erect a WWI memorial (CRO D/R 10/10) and plans were drawn up by R. F. Wheatly (CRO D/R 40).
Candleholder – Photograph (PWDRO 116/70) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1932
This floor-standing Candleholder is situated on the left of the altar and is dedicated to the memory of George Laity (died 1931).
Panelling – Newspaper article (WWN, 1932) V. Pinwill carver; 1932
There is no photograph of this work in PWDRO but it is mentioned during an interview of Violet Pinwill by Betty Crisp for the Western Weekly News in 1932. The carved panelling with coloured coats of arms were in the workshop at the time and were described as being for a children’s corner at St Columb. The panelling forms a reredos, either side of a carved canopy, in which stands a figure ‘Christ the Leader’, which is not Pinwill work (Cooke, undated).
WWI Memorial – Photograph (PWDRO 116/70) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1932
This elaborately carved memorial is in the form of a corner canopy, in which hangs a lamp of remembrance. Inside the canopy is a roll of honour of the men of St Columb, St Eval, St Mawgan and St Wenn (CRO D/R 10/10).
Tower Screen – Photograph (PWDRO 116/72) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1932
A faculty petition was submitted for a glass and oak screen between belfry and nave in May 1932 and granted in July that year (CRO D/R 10/13). The Vicar had decided on a plan prepared by R. F. Wheatly that would cost £130. The church at St Dennis was almost completely destroyed by fire in May 1985 and there are photographs of the charred but still largely intact tower screen on the church website (stdennis.org). The screen was replaced in August 1987 using French white oak.
Clergy Stalls and Choir Stalls – Photographs (PWDRO 116/73) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1937
The photograph in PWDRO shows only the choir stalls for one side of the chancel and two semi-kneeling angels. A faculty petition was submitted in July 1937 to replace pitch pine clergy and choir stalls with ones of carved chestnut (CRO D/R 15/11) together with plans for the new ones (CRO D/R 54). These stalls were given by parishioners in memory of Cecil Square, Rector 1894 to 1934, in addition to the Rector’s stall given by members of his family. The estimate for all of the work was £300.
Memorial Cross – Photograph (PWDRO 116/108) V. Pinwill carver; after 1934
The photograph of this piece is in a section of unidentified items in PWDRO, as no church is specified. However, the cross bears the inscription ‘Cecil Square Died Dec 15th 1934 Rector for forty years Jesu Mercy’, which marks it out as belonging to St Dominick. A small roof on the cross suggests it was made for an outdoor position, perhaps even a grave, but this has not yet been verified.
Lady Chapel – Hedges (2005) V. Pinwill; 1930s
Ron Dustan remembers carrying out work in the Lady Chapel in the 1930s but it is unclear what that entailed.
Edmund H. Sedding carried out a ‘thoughtful’ restoration in 1908, when the church was also reseated and refurnished (Beacham & Pevsner, 2014 p. 535), which may mean that V. Pinwill carried out more work than is represented below.
Pulpit – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4) no carver specified; after 1903
It is evident from the PWDRO photograph that this pulpit is very similar in design to those at Crantock, Gorran, Lanteglos by Fowey, Lewannick, Linkinhorne, St Breward and St Buryan, but its whereabouts was unknown until a visit to St Erme in September 2014. It is dedicated to ‘... Our Mother Charlotte Tom Who died at Trispen Dec 1903’. Charlotte Tom was buried at St Erme and her headstone is to be found in the churchyard.
Lectern – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) no carver specified; 1908
A rather plain lectern sits in a highly ornate four-sided base, on which is inscribed ‘... in memory of Grace Elizabeth Bice given by her son E. C. A. Bice 1908’. On each side is a shield bearing the symbol of one of the four Evangelists, flanked by eagles with wings erect.
Clergy Stalls (2) – Photographs (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) no carver specified; 1911 & 1912
These ornately carved oak clergy stalls cost about £100 (WB, 1912b). The right hand stall is inscribed with the words ‘Given by Samuel and Louisa Roberts of Laniley as a thankoffering 1911’. The left hand stall is marked merely ‘SE’ (presumably for St Erme) on one side and ‘1912’ on the other. Photographs of the stalls before dispatch appeared in a newspaper about a week before their dedication in late January 1912 (WDN, 1912).
Parclose Screen – Photograph (PWDRO 244/1) R. Pinwill carver; 1923
Across the transom of the south screen is inscribed ‘... in loving memory of John Dennis Cayzer who died March 5th 1922 aged 87’. Below, on one of the panels, a further inscription states that the screen was erected by his devoted daughter Hester Cayzer in 1923. Interestingly, in the PWDRO photograph the memorial inscription reads ‘John Dennis S Cayzer’ and in the erected screen the presumably erroneous ‘S’ has been replaced by a barely discernible square of plain wood. There is a matching parclose screen on the north side of the chancel, which is similar to the inscribed one, although the running ornaments that form the cornice on both sides of both screens are composed of different patterns. There is a faculty plan for a parclose screen for St Erme dated 1930 that probably relates to the one on the north (CRO D/R 59) but this has not yet been verified.
Litany Desk – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4) no carver specified; date unknown
The whereabouts of the desk in this photograph was unknown until a visit to St Erme in September 2014. Aaron’s rod decorates the uprights and crockets in niches grace the sides. It is very similar in design to a litany desk found at St Breward church that is assumed to be Pinwill work.
Beacham & Pevsner (2014 p. 536) says of the work below ‘furnishing of 1928, good quality’.
Altar, Reredos, Panelling and Altar Rails – Photograph (PWDRO 116/74 & 244/2) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1928-29
These items were photographed together in the workshop before despatch. A faculty petition was submitted in May 1928 for alterations to the chancel area, including installation of a new altar, erection of a reredos and panelling, replacement of Georgian altar rails with oak ones and fitting of a new clergy stall (CRO D/R 6/17). The design of the reredos by R. F. Wheatly is very similar indeed to the one at Perranuthnoe installed three years earlier. Architect’s plans dated 1927-28 for all of this work are held at CRO (AD889/12). In April 1929 it was reported that the Archdeacon of Bodmin dedicated the new furnishings, carved by Miss V. Pinwill of Plymouth (WMN, 1929). Most of the items were memorials: the reredos and panelling to Revd Frederick John Behenna (died 1927), Vicar for 31 years, and the altar rails to Charles Oakley Steed of Poldrissick (died 1925).
Clergy Stall – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1928-29
The clergy stall is photographed separately before leaving the Pinwill workshop but was included in the same faculty petition submitted in May 1928 as the items above (CRO D/R 6/17). It bears an inscription dated 1928 stating that it was presented by the wish of the late Mrs Julie Geake in memory of ‘many dear ones’ buried at St Erney.
Font Cover – Photograph (PWDRO 116/74) R. F. Wheatly architect; V. Pinwill carver; 1936
An identical font cover was made for the mother church of Landrake about 18 years later.
Pulpit and Choir Stalls – Newspaper article (WMN, 1936b) R. F. Wheatly architect; V. Pinwill carver; 1936
Although the pulpit and choir stalls are not represented in photographs in PWDRO, there is plenty of evidence for their provenance. Some of the plans at CRO (AD889/12) appear to have been prepared by Violet Pinwill. A faculty petition submitted in May 1936 for the placing of new pulpit, belfry screen (see below), font cover and choir stalls states that the work would be carried out by Miss Pinwill at an estimated cost of £350 (CRO D/R 14/7). Finally, photographs of all three pieces appeared in the Western Morning News in November 1936, under which it was reported that the work had been executed by Miss V. Pinwill of Plymouth, with R. F. Wheatly as architect. On the wall at the back of the church is a plaque dated 1936 stating that the pulpit, choir stalls, screen and font cover were placed in the church by Lydia Mary Dyer Browne in memory of her parents Solomon and Emily Mercy Buller Browne and her sister Emily Julia Buller Browne.
Belfry Screen – Faculty Petition (CRO D/R 14/7) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1936
Not only are there no photographs of the belfry screen in PWDRO but there are no plans in CRO or newspaper articles either. The faculty petition for items including the belfry screen does state, however, that the work would be carried by Miss Pinwill. All the work listed in the faculty petition was financed by Lydia Mary Dyer Browne.
Parclose Screen – Plan (CRO AD889/12) R. F. Wheatly architect; 1928-29
A three-bay parclose screen was designed for the north side of the chancel but was either never made or has been removed in the intervening years.
In 1873-74, John Dando Sedding extensively rebuilt the body of this church, re-using much of the original material (Beacham & Wheatly, 2014). Further restoration work by Edmund H. Sedding, assisted by R. F. Wheatly, included refurbishment of the Trewinnard chapel in the eastern end of the South aisle. The work was undertaken as a memorial to the Hawkins family of Trewinnard, the cost being borne by the widow of Christopher Henry Thomas Hawkins. A faculty for the restoration of the chapel was granted in 1911 (CRO P59/2/5) and the result was dedicated by the Bishop of Truro in October 1912.
Chapel Reredos, Roof and Bench Ends – Newspaper article (WB, 1912c) Sedding & Wheatly architects, R. Pinwill carver; 1912
There are no photographs of these items in PWDRO but in an obituary for Edmund H. Sedding, it is stated that he designed the chapel altar, reredos, roof, screen (see below) and bench ends and that the carving was carried out by Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co (WMN, 1921a). However, a newspaper report on the dedication of the chapel implies that the stone altar was carved by Nathaniel Hitch (WB, 1912c), with whom Sedding worked on several occasions.
Chapel Screen – Photographs (PWDRO 244/5); Newspaper article (WB, 1912c) Sedding & Wheatly architects, R. Pinwill carver; 1912
The screen across the chapel is part of the same suite of furnishings designed by Sedding and included in the 1911 faculty. Two photographs from different angles are to be found in PWDRO 244/5. The screen is very much in the traditional style and, perhaps rather surprisingly, carries the same carvings of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as those in the reredos at Ermington and in the screen at Launceston St Mary Magdelene, both installed in 1911.
Parclose Screens – Newspaper article (WB, 1912d) Sedding & Wheatly architects, R. Pinwill carver; 1912
There are no photographs of the two screens that enclose the chapel on the north side but they are mentioned in another newspaper article about the dedication that attributes them to Rashleigh Pinwill, Plymouth.
Litany Desk – Photograph (PWDRO 116/75 & 244/5) carver not specified; probably 1912
Altar Rails – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) carver not specified; probably 1912
The litany desk and altar rails in the photographs in PWDRO are situated in the Trewinnard chapel and were probably commissioned with the other furnishings listed above.
Lychgate – Newspaper article (WMN, 1926c) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1926
In October 1926, it was reported in the Western Morning News that a carved oak lychgate with slate roof and Cornish granite masonry had been given by the Misses Vivian of Meadowside, Hayle, as a memorial to their parents. The carving was the work of Miss Pinwill of Plymouth and Mr Wheatly was the architect. A faculty petition for the lychgate was submitted in May 1926, together with plans drawn up by Wheatly, and granted in July of that year (CRO D/R 4/12). The estimate for the work was £250.
John Dando Sedding carried out a sensitive restoration of this church in 1889 (Beacham & Pevsner, 2014), and installed several of his signature ‘cobweb’ windows. At that time it was surrounded by a churchtown, but this was largely demolished to make way for a WWII airfield (St Eval, 2016). That is now covered in massive aerials for an HF transmitting station, leaving the church in isolation on top of the plateau.
Unknown item – Chaytor (1990)
On a visit in August 2016 there were no carved pieces of work that seemed of the right age and style to be the work of the Pinwills.
Prie-Dieu and Panelling – Photograph (PWDRO 116/78 & 244/4) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
The photograph of these items is marked ‘St Eves’, a church that does not exist in Devon or Cornwall. However, a plan for a prie-dieu for St Ives (CRO AD889/16) matches exactly the desk in the photograph, so see under that church.
Edmund H. Sedding carried out work on the tower here in 1910 (Beacham & Pevsner, 2014).
Altar Rails (3 pairs) – Hedges (2005); Faculty Petition (CRO D/R 16/13); 1938
Ron Dustan recalled working on altar rails at St Gennys in the 1930s (Hedges, 2005). This is confirmed by a faculty petition dated 1938 for the erection of memorial carved oak altar rails in the chancel and two side chapels. The ones in the WWI memorial chapel are dedicated to Richard Roy Lewer and others who died. The three pairs of rails are very similar in design.
Desks – Newspaper article (WMN, 1902) R. Pinwill carver; 1902
According to the Western Morning News, these finely-carved desks were the gift of Lord St German in October 1902. The fronts are ornamented with tracery and linen-fold panels and the ends with foliage of different patterns. The work was attributed to Rashleigh Pinwill of Plymouth but no designer was named.
Door – Newspaper article (WMN, 1903b) Edmund Sedding architect, R. Pinwill carver; 1903
In May 1903, it was announced in the Western Morning News that the Countess of St Germans had commissioned a door for the magnificent Norman portal of the church to replace the double doors there at the time (WMN, 1903a). It would be a beautiful work of art and cost £100. By November that year the new door was in place and a further report stated that the work had been carried out by Rashleigh Pinwill to designs by Edmund Sedding (WMN, 1903b).
Memorial – Photographs (PWDRO 116/76, 244/4 & 244/5) carver not specified; after 1922
This beautifully designed and carved memorial is in the form of a semi-kneeling praying angel under an ornate canopy. The wording at the bottom runs: ‘From Emily Countess of St Germans for her Son John Glanville [sic] Cornwallis’. Unfortunately, the correct name is John Granville Cornwallis, which might account for the fact that the memorial is not evident in the church. John, 6th Earl of St Germans, died in March 1922 from the effects of an accident sustained during a point-to-point race at Wrangaton, Devon, at the age of 31 (wikipedia.org Earl of St Germans).
The church at St Hilary was the subject of a modern-day spate of iconoclasm in the form of an attack by the Kensitites, a group of protestant fundamentalists who objected to the Anglo-Catholic ways of the incumbent, Revd N. Bernard Walke. They had tried and failed to bring about their objectives by litigation. On August 8, 1932 a group of 40 to 50 Kensitites, who had gathered at Plymouth and driven down together, attempted to rid the church of what they saw as icons of idolatry (TC, 1932).
Altar – Kitty Green (pers. comm.) V. Pinwill carver; 1945
Kitty Green, granddaughter of Hubert Minchinton, one of Violet’s woodcarvers, was told that the high altar at St Hilary had been destroyed in this protest and a replacement made by V. Pinwill. The latter part of this story is verified by the fact that a plan for a new high altar for St Hilary was prepared by R. F. Wheatly in January 1945 and approved by the Diocese in March that year (CRO AD889/14). The replacement of a stone altar with one in wood, most probably carved by V. Pinwill, conforms to the nub of the story from Minchinton.
A visit to the church in August 2016 revealed a twist to the story, in that all three altars in St Hilary’s are now stone. The high altar in wood designed by Wheatly was removed and replaced by one in granite during the 1970s, as a memorial to N. Bernard Walke. The Wheatly altar was transferred for a while to the Sacred Heart Chapel and a photograph exists of it there in 1980 (St Hilary Heritage Centre). Sometime afterwards it was removed completely and the central portion, bearing a carved ‘IHS’, now hangs in the Heritage Centre next door to the church.
The fifteenth-century church of St Ia underwent several restorations in the nineteenth century, the last of which was by Edmund H. Sedding 1897-1905 (Beacham & Pevsner, 2014). This work probably included designs for the reredos and organ case described below and carved by Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co., but Sedding’s involvement is not recorded.
Reredos – Newspaper article (TC, 1913) R. Pinwill carver; 1906
This reredos includes an elaborately carved, coloured and gilded wooden coving, under which are figures and panels in alabaster, added much later (see below). Its installation was part of a renovation after an explosion at Hayle Dynamite Works in January 1904, which completely destroyed the east window (TC, 1906). A report in The Cornishman on the dedication of a new window records that ‘the renovation includes a new reredos, altar, marble steps, and flooring’ (Ibid. p. 3) but no mention is made of who carved the reredos. Some years later, however, when the choir stalls discussed below were dedicated, another report states that they were the work of ‘the well known firm of Rashleigh and Pinwell [sic], of Plymouth, who were also responsible for the beautifully carved reredos and organ case’ (TC, 1913 p. 7). There is no evidence to suggest that the altar, made of alabaster and with a granite top, was carved by the Pinwill company, although that is a possibility, but see below for the addition of alabaster angels.
Organ Case – Newspaper article (TCT, 1907) Pinwill carver; 1907
The organ case is not included in the photographs at PWDRO but is referred to in an article in The Cornish Telegraph as being dedicated by the Bishop of Truro, along with the organ, in 1907. The case of fumed oak was designed by Edmund H. Sedding, and carved and executed by ‘Messrs Pinwill and Co.’ (TCT, 1907 p. 4). It was noted that ‘the carving on the fine western front, with its three bold towers, and also on the southern side facing the sanctuary is exquisite, and an examination of the detail shows how appropriately a number of little fishes have found their way into the otherwise more conventional treatment’ (Ibid.). Even closer inspection would have revealed that the little fishes swim among seaweed, a devise often used by Sedding in his designs. The organ was built by Messrs Hele and Co. of Plymouth, who worked closely with the Pinwill company when the latter made cases for their organs (M. Eglinton, retired manager, Hele & Co., pers. comm.).
Clergy Stalls and Choir Stalls – Photographs (PWDRO 244/4) R. Pinwill carver; 1913
The photographs of these items in PWDRO were taken prior to dispatch and show three pairs of stalls, which correspond with a description in a newspaper article of ‘priest’s seat, desk, and chorister’s desk’ (TC, 1913 p. 7). The front of one of the choir desks is shown with ‘AD 1913’ carved within shields. This front has had one of its ends removed and is now attached to the fifteenth-century panels and coloured dark to match. The clergy seats are still in place but the two clergy desks, one bearing the figure of St Ia and the other the Virgin and child appear to be redundant and sit behind the choir stalls. The newspaper report states that Sedding & Wheatly were the architects for the work. The stalls were the gift of Mrs Ethel M. May of Kowlroose, St Ives, in memory of her husband John Coleridge Frampton May.
Alabaster Figures (4) and Panels (2) – Photograph (PWDRO 116/78) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; after 1921
These figures and panels in alabaster were created for the reredos installed in 1906 but the photograph of them in PWDRO 116/78 credits R. F. Wheatly as the architect, which means they were designed after the death of Edmund H. Sedding in 1921. They may, of course, be contemporaneous with the angels below. They depict (left to right) St Uny, Moses and the burning bush, St Nicholas, St Ia, the Transfiguration and St Leonard (Jenkins, 2010).
Alabaster Angels (2) – Photograph (PWDRO 116/78) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1927
Twenty years after the altar was made, two alabaster angels were carved and placed in niches at the front. They are both sounding long trumpets, although their poses are different. A plan for one of the angels exists, drawn by Wheatly and dated 1927 (CRO AD889/16), but it does not possess the elegance and exuberance of the final piece. It is a pity that the altar is nowadays covered and the angels are not on view.
Prie-Dieu and Panelling – Photograph (PWDRO 116/78 & 244/2) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1928
The photograph of these items is marked ‘St Eves’, which does not exist in Devon and Cornwall. One explanation may have been that the church in question is St Ive, near Liskeard, which is pronounced ‘Eve’. However, the discovery of a plan for a prie-deau for St Ives dated 1928 (CRO AD889/16) that matches the desk in the photograph solved the mystery. However, on two visits to the church neither the prie-deau nor the panelling were evident.
Figure of the Christ Child and Panelling – Photographs (PWDRO 116/78 & 244/2) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1928
This is one of six figures of the Christ child so far discovered. In Chaytor (1990) it is described as being painted by Charles Gait ‘who had learned the way it was done in medieval times’ (Ibid. p. 65). The figure stands in a canopied niche and with panelling forms a children’s corner in the east end of the south aisle. The three surviving plans for the children’s corner are all dated 1928 (CRO AD889/16). On one of the plans the canopy is annotated ‘like Falmouth A.S.’ (All Saints). Another plan includes a rough drawing of the Christ child with a note that says: ‘Coloured, carved oak figure to be modelled by carver to the approval of the Architect’. This suggests that Violet was given considerable leeway in the design of the Christ child.
Candlestick – Plan (CRO AD889/16) R. F. Wheatly architect; 1927-28
A plan by Wheatly for a tall elaborate Candlestick is stored with the other plans outlined above and appears to be of the same period. It seems likely that it would have been carved by V. Pinwill with the other items, although it was not seen on several visits to the church.
See under Kea
A restoration was carried out by Edmund H. Sedding in 1893 (Beacham & Pevsner, 2014), which may have included the commissioning of the parclose screen described below.
Parclose Screens – Chaytor (1990) R. Pinwill carvers; pre-1896
Parclose screens at St Keverne are listed on a handbill illustrated in Chaytor (1990) itemising work undertaken by Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co. The handbill announces the change of address of the company from Buckland Terrace to Athenaeum Street and is datable from Directories to about 1896. There are four screens, two either side of the chancel, the eastern most ones having doorways. They are fairly plain, apart from large stylised flowers in the tracery heads, and could well have been designed by Sedding.
Violet Pinwill had a long association with St Martin-by-Looe that began before 1921 and continued until just before she died in 1957. The chronology of the work is not altogether clear but letters from Violet Pinwill to Revd William S. Picken and later his son Revd William M. M. Picken 1923 to 1956 held at CRO (AD1240/4/17) provide some information. The quality of the work is acknowledged in Beacham & Pevsner (2014 p. 577) as ‘a specially good ensemble’. At the same time as some of this work was being carried out, Violet was also making pieces for two other churches in Looe, St Mary and St Nicholas.
Altar Rails – Guide (Trevaldwyn & Picken, 2006) V. Pinwill carver; 1921
There are no photographs of these in PWDRO but the guide states that the rails were carved by V. Pinwill in 1921 and are thought to be the earliest piece. A gilded semi-kneeling angel in prayer graces either side. The rails are dedicated to sisters Sarah Lydia Couch (died August 1920) and Maria Jane Couch (died October 1920), cousins of the writer Arthur Quiller Couch.
Credence Table – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2) V. Pinwill carver; after 1921
Choir Stalls – No documentary evidence; circa 1933
There is no documentary evidence for the provenance of the choir stalls, although they are quite easily attributable to V. Pinwill because of the seaweed and fish poppy head, almost identical to a design by Sedding used in 1909 for Lanteglos by Fowey, and the familiar semi-kneeling angel. The guide states that the ‘rather large’ stalls were ‘not intended for this church originally’ (Trevaldwyn & Picken, 2006 p. 6) but does not elaborate further. They are dedicated to the memory of John and Ann White of Polvellan Manor in West Looe, as well as their daughter Mary Elizabeth who died in 1933, providing some sort of date for the stalls.
Clergy Stall – Photographs (PWDRO 116/80) V. Pinwill carver; after 1921
The front of the stall bears a wreath within which is a dedication to Lieut. Comm. John White, killed in action in October 1916 while in command of HMS Genista, son of John and Ann White of Polvellan Manor named on the choir stalls. A semi-kneeling angel sits either side of the back.
Figure of St Martin of Tours – Guide (Trevaldwyn & Picken, 2006) V. Pinwill carver; after 1921
A figure of St Martin, when still a Roman soldier, cutting his cloak in half to give to a wayside beggar on a cold day, was carved by Violet as a gift to the church.
Lectern Foot – Photograph (PWDRO 244/1) V. Pinwill carver; 1924
The photograph at PWDRO shows the entire lectern but the guide (Trevaldwyn & Picken, 2006) states that it was only the foot, with the symbols of the four evangelists, that was added in 1924, paid for by the daughters of the original donor of the piece.
Font Cover – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2) V. Pinwill carver; after 1925
The cover features a figure of Christ with arms outstretched, based on a Portuguese bronze (Trevaldwyn & Picken, 2006). It is dedicated to Walter Edward Newton who died in December 1925.
Chancel Screen – Photograph (PWDRO 116/80) V. Pinwill carver; 1934
The chancel screen was discussed in letters between Violet Pinwill and Revd Picken from July 1933. Wheatly was mentioned as the architect, who needed to sort out the exact line on the step to which the screen was to be fixed. An estimate was submitted for £600 but in the event it cost £100 more because it was decided to add coving to the back, rather than have it plain. By the time the bill was submitted in June 1934, £500 had already been paid on account, largely to defray the cost of buying the wood. A newspaper report, complete with photograph, described the screen in detail (WMN, 1934c). It is dedicated to Margaret Quiller Couch, another cousin of Arthur Quiller Couch, who died in 1933 and left a legacy for the adornment of the church.
North Transept Screen – Guide (Trevaldwyn & Picken, 2006) V. Pinwill carver; 1939
The guide tells us that the north transept was restored to the status of a chapel in 1939 by the addition of a screen, carved by Miss Pinwill, using a seventeenth-century design from elsewhere in the church.
Processional Cross – Letters (CRO AD1240/4/17) V. Pinwill designer and carver; 1956
In July 1956 Violet wrote to Revd Picken enclosing a sketch for this item. She mentions a model (maquette) that he had already seen and that perhaps he would like to discuss details of the vestments. This strongly suggests the cross bore a figure, probably of Christ; such a cross exists in the church and is still in use. It is dedicated to the memory of Thomas Edward Stephens 1879-1954. The bill for the cross had not been sent before Violet died and one was sent by the accountants acting for the executors of Violet’s will on 17 January 1957. It was for £45 for the making of one processional cross with engraving on the reverse.
Nave Seating – Photographs (PWDRO 116/80, 116/113; 244/1 & 244/2); Guide (Trevaldwyn & Picken, 2006) V. Pinwill designer and carver; 1923-1948
All the seating in the nave was renewed between 1923 and 1948 with memorial pews (Trevaldwyn & Picken, 2006). According to the guide, they were all carved and, except for the war memorial one, designed by V. Pinwill. The designs of some of the seats are discussed in letters between Violet Pinwill and Revd Picken. The traditional parts of the designs were taken from the original pews of the Langdon Chapel of 1612. It is not known which of the seats was made first, but a receipt for £43 17s. 0d. was sent by V. Pinwill in January 1923 (CRO AD1240/4/17). More information is provided below on individual seats, grouped according to where they are in the church, rather than chronologically.
North Aisle Seating from Back
Supreme Sacrifice Seat – Photographs (PWDRO 244/1) V. Pinwill carver; 1923-1934
The seats in the north aisle are memorials to those lost in the Great War and the high-backed one by the door bears a scene of a dying soldier and the words ‘The Supreme Sacrifice’. On the top of the ends are a soldier and a sailor with bowed heads. Inscribed on the other side are the names of some of the local men who died. According to the guide (Trevaldwyn & Picken, 2006), this is the only seat not designed by Violet Pinwill but the name of who did is not provided.
War Memorial Seats (3) – Photograph (PWDRO 116/113 & 244/1); Guide (Trevaldwyn & Picken, 2006) V. Pinwill designer and carver; 1923-1934
This group of three seats are photographed together. One carries the inscription ‘In Memoriam 1914-1918’ and has a semi-kneeling angel on the end carrying a wreath, while the other two bear names of more men killed in the Great War. They all have military insignia on the ends.
Picken Seat – Letters (CRO AD1240/4/17) V. Pinwill designer and carver; 1932
This seat forms part of the War Memorial Group in the north aisle and is dedicated to Lieut. Ronald Baynton Picken, nephew of the Revd W. S. Picken. It was briefly discussed in a letter from Violet Pinwill in 1931.
Swords into Ploughshares Seat Front – Photograph (PWDRO 116/80 & 244/2); Letters (CRO AD1240/4/17) V. Pinwill designer and carver; 1934
This is the front desk for the seats in the north aisle and features a forge scene to represent the turning of ‘swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks’, a quotation from Isaiah often used to signify peace. In panels either side are wreaths to denote remembrance. Each end is topped with an angel semi-kneeling before a prie-dieu and playing a musical instrument. Letters between Violet Pinwill and Revd Picken in June 1933 discuss the design of the piece and she mentions having found a suitable scene of a forge on which to base it. The front was not completed until March 1934, when a newspaper article about its installation provides a photograph and the information that it will ‘complete the block of war memorial seats’ (WMN, 1934d p. 3). Very unfortunately, it now has a white radiator partially obscuring it.
Centre Section Seating from back
Women’s Work Seat – Photographs (PWDRO 116/102 & 244/1); Guide (Trevaldwyn & Picken, 2006) V. Pinwill designer and carver; after 1923
The back of this seat is composed of five panels, each depicting an aspect of the work of women in teaching, art, motherhood, needlework and nursing, surmounted by the words ‘All thy work shall praise thy name’. On one end is a carving of the Virgin and child based on Madonna col figlio by Guercino, in which Jesus raises his hand in the sign of benediction. On the other end is a carving of remarkably young widow with a child putting her ‘mite’ into the temple offering, possibly as a reference to the many young widows left after the Great War. Both ends are topped with semi-kneeling angels.
Bawden (1862-1918) & George Knight (1841-1920) Seats (2) – Photograph (PWDRO 244/1); Guide (Trevaldwyn & Picken, 2006) V. Pinwill designer and carver; after 1923
Honey Seats (2) – No documentary record; after 1923
One is dedicated to Mary Rendle Honey 1834-1904.
‘Benedicite’ Desk Front – Photographs (PWDRO 116/80 & 244/1); Guide (Trevaldwyn & Picken, 2006) V. Pinwill designer and carver; after 1923
This is the front desk for the central block of seating. It features five panels (only four are shown in a photograph of the disassembled parts) with plants, animals, birds and fish. It is known as the ‘Benedicite’ pew, invoking the words ‘O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord’. Each end has an angel semi-kneeling before a prie-dieu and playing a musical instrument. An inscription ‘To the Glory of God and in Memory of’ is intended to precede the dedications on the seats behind.
South Aisle Seating from Back
Bell Ringers Seat – Photographs (PWDRO 244/1); Guide (Trevaldwyn & Picken, 2006) V. Pinwill designer and carver; after 1923
This is a particularly charming piece of work. The carving on the back consists of a central panel of bells in full peal, with side borders of twining ropes, surmounted by a string of small bells and ropes. On the end is carved a bellringer, the captain of the tower at the time, Charles Bettinson. This is topped by a semi-kneeling angel ringing hand bells.
Eldred Seat – Letters (CRO AD1240/4/17) V. Pinwill designer and carver; 1932
The story of this seat is told in Chaytor (1990), which describes how a young man was drowned while fishing in a remote valley in the Himalayas. His grief-stricken mother travelled to the place where he died and took photographs, which she sent to Violet Pinwill to reproduce as paintings on the bench end (CRO AD1240/4/17). There are four painted panels showing the locations of the young man’s journey and death. Violet mentioned to Revd Picken that the work had been very difficult, but the result is superb.
Jackson Seat – Letters (CRO AD1240/4/17) V. Pinwill designer and carver; 1931
This seat was discussed at length by Violet Pinwill, Revd William Picken and Katherine Jackson the donor in the letters cited above and can be dated confidently to 1931. It features a ship in full sail and a quotation from the poem by John Masefield ‘All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by’. The dedication is to Arthur B.H. Jackson, a keen yachtsman, who died in November 1929, the dear husband of Katherine Jackson. Originally, Mrs Jackson wanted a memorial in the form of a cross in the graveyard but Violet Pinwill thought this unsuitable and beyond the allotted budget. She eventually persuaded Mrs Jackson to add to the reseating by having a bench end dedicated to her husband and then produced the ship design, which swayed the decision.
Campbell Seats (3) – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2); Letters (CRO AD1240/4/17) V. Pinwill designer and carver; 1932
There is only one photograph of these seats, showing the end of one with military insignia, topped by a semi-kneeling angel playing a stringed instrument with a bow.
HMS Salmon Seat – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2); Guide (Trevaldwyn & Picken, 2006) V. Pinwill designer and carver; 1948
The design on the end shows the submarine HMS Salmon on the surface of the sea, with fish below and gulls above and a sunburst behind. The seat is in memory of Lieut. Robin Hugh Meliss Hancock DSC, lost aboard HMS Salmon in July 1940.
Armstrong Desk Front – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2); Letters (CRO AD1240/4/17) V. Pinwill designer and carver; 1948
This is the front desk for the seats in the south aisle, which, like the other two fronts, is graced with angels semi-kneeling before a prie-dieu and playing musical instruments. This, and the seat behind, is referred to in letters from Violet Pinwill to Revd Picken, dated November 1947, in which they discuss the re-use of wood from the old seats and the inclusion of other old panelling from near Liskeard. Some of the carving on the front could be old, with newer panels worked to match. It is dedicated to Florence Hannah Seymour Armstrong, who died in November 1943.
North and South Transept Seats – Letters (CRO AD1240/4/17) V. Pinwill carver; 1933/34
There is no other mention of these seats except for an estimate submitted in July 1933 that includes £78 for further seats with plain fronts for the transepts. Some of these are now located elsewhere in the church.
Pulpit Book Rest – Photograph (PWDRO 116/81) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
This charming book best with the symbols of the four apostles interspersed with floral motifs is, unfortunately, mostly covered by a cloth.
Reredos and Panelling – Newspaper article (WMN, 1921b) V. Pinwill carver; 1921
There is no evidence of this item in the albums at PWDRO. However, a small article in the Western Morning News on 2 August 1921 states that a faculty had been obtained for a reredos, to be made by Miss Pinwill of Plymouth, in memory of Revd and Mrs Hart Smith. Furthermore, a postcard dated 21 September 1921 was sent from Pinwill joiner A. E. Elliott to his wife from St Minver where he was working, which would suggest he was there to install this work. The panelling, with its linenfolds and cresting, is integral to the reredos and bears two inscriptions: ‘They loved this Parish and by their faithful efforts the three Churches were in turn carefully restored’ and ‘Erected A.D – 1921’. The reredos itself is more elaborate and consists of raised borders of vines and birds around a deeply carved Crucifixion scene, below tall cresting. The guide (Baxter, undated) confirms the date and adds that the reredos was given by the son of Revd and Mrs Hart Smith.
Chancel Panelling – Plan (CRO D/R 120) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1945
There are no photographs of this panelling at PWDRO but a faculty plan for the work specifies V. Pinwill as the carver. The faculty petition is dated July 1945 but debate over the wording of the memorial inscription went on until November (CRO D/R 23/22). The panelling, covering the east, south and north walls of the chancel, is in memory of Emily Steer (died 1943) and was given by her husband and children.
Figure of a Cherub – Photograph (116/106, 244/4 & 244/5) R. Pinwill carver; after 1914
The photographs of this figure of a cherub are not annotated, except for the one in 244/4, which states that it is a ‘memorial in white marble’. However, the inscription on the base of the figure reads that it was erected to the memory of Richard Westmacott Magor who died in 1914 aged 15 months. A search of the freebmd.org website established that he was born and had died in Bodmin RD and that his parents were Edward John P. and Gilian Sarah (née Westmacott) Magor. In 1911 they were living at Lamellen, St Tudy (TNA St Tudy 1911), which lies within Bodmin RD. A visit in to the church in August 2014 revealed that generations of Magors are commemorated in the church and/or buried in the churchyard and that the cherub had been placed on a large family plot. Unfortunately, the figure itself is now missing, although the base with its inscription remains.
Altar Rails – Guide (Wood, 2001) V. Pinwill carver; probably 1932
At the time of the visit described above, the church guide was being reprinted, but a kind parishioner offered to send a copy. When this arrived some time later, it revealed that the ‘altar rails were made by Miss Pinwill of Plymouth’ (Ibid. p. 14), thus providing a new find, albeit one missed on the visit. The chancel at St Tudy was reordered and refurnished in 1932 (Beacham & Pevsner, 2014) and the altar rails may well be from then.
Rood Screen Restoration – Photographs (PWDRO 116/84, 244/4 & 244/5) carver not specified; 1907
This is yet another example of a beautiful old screen (late fifteenth- or early sixteenth-century) being restored to its former glory by the combined efforts of Edmund H. Sedding (WMN, 1921a) and the Pinwill sisters (WB, 1907b). In the PWDRO there are ‘before’ and ‘after’ photographs, the former showing the centre portion of the screen devoid of vaulting and coving and the south aisle section cut down to the transom rail. Both sections were fully restored and the West Briton reported that the cost was £350. Bond & Camm (1909 p. 396) remark that the ‘very fine’ screen ‘has the usual Cornish roughness of execution’ and likens the panels to those at St Buryan.
Rood – Guide (St Winnow, undated) V. Pinwill carver; 1907
The church credits V. Pinwill with both the screen and the rood, although the ‘after’ photograph in PWDRO 116/84 does not show a rood on the screen.
Statue of Madonna and Child – Photograph (PWDRO 116/84) V. Pinwill carver; after 1948
This beautifully carved statue stands on a plinth within a canopy and is yet another example of the use of Madonna col figlio by Guercino as the basis for a design, in which the child raises his hand in the sign of benediction. It bears an inscription in memory of E.E.W. (died 1943) and W.J.W. (died 1948), to which has been added F.A.W. (died 1981). The first two were the parents of Frank Austen Whiteway, Pharmaceutical Chemist of Devonport, who married a local woman, Agnes Thelma Sherwill, in 1940 at St Winnow (WMN, 1940b). After Frank died in Lostwithiel in 1981, the statue was stabilised by the addition of a granite plinth and the last inscription carried out by a local carver (Tony Warren Nichols, former monumental mason, pers. comm. 29 April 2017).
In 1897, the church of St Nicholas and St Faith commissioned new Parish Buildings from Edmund H. Sedding (WB, 1897b). The old school to the south east of the church was incorporated into the design. The building is still used as the Church Hall, although the upper storey on the west side is now unfit for access. Construction of the roof of the main room used the first RSJs to be utilised in Cornwall.
Chapel Screens – Photograph (PWDRO 116/85) A.S. Parker architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1932
The photograph in PWDRO is taken in the workshop before dispatch, with the two screens in line, giving the impression that they may form a chancel screen. Installed, they are in fact at right angles to each and form two sides of St Faith’s Chapel. The vine pattern cornice is gilded and the tracery and cresting are painted and gilded. The fabric of the church was restored by A.S. Parker in 1930 (CRO D/R 8/44) and in August 1932 a faculty petition was submitted for the refurbishment of the chancel (CRO D/R 10/44). This included screens for St Faith’s Chapel for which ‘incumbent has been given some portions of a fourteenth-century parclose screen, which will fit very well into the positions suggested’. The plan for the screens by A.S. Parker states ‘the tracery heads are part of an ancient screen of varying widths’. It is indeed the case that each bay of the screens is a different width so that the ancient work could be incorporated. Closer inspection reveals that all the upper sections of the tracery are less crisp than the rest of the screen. They show signs of wear and, in places, are slightly damaged through centuries of use; some areas even have evidence of past woodworm infestation. One of the diamond-shaped vegetative ornaments that grace the corners of each tracery head has been replaced turned through 90° from its original position. They are all cut off at the same point, as if they were deliberately removed for safe-keeping. The discovery that the screens incorporated parts of ancient tracery was shared with members of the PCC and the information was very much appreciated.
The chancel furnishings described below are attributed in guide books (e.g. Sennen, 1954) to Miss Pinwill of Plymouth, although only the pulpit is recorded in the photographs at PWDRO. Beacham & Pevsner (2014) describes the work as ‘a fine ensemble’ (Ibid. p. 614).
Pulpit – Photographs (PWDRO 116/82 & 244/2) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1930
This ornate pulpit bears the figures of St Sennen, St John the Baptist and St Nicholas, the patron saint of fishermen and children, and is surmounted by a border of intertwining fish, crabs, lobsters, seahorses, and seaweed. A faculty petition for the erection of a carved oak pulpit was submitted in 1929 (CRO D/R 7/47) and by September 1930 the imminent arrival of the work was reported in the Western Morning News (1930c). The pulpit is in memory of Revd John Isabell, a former Rector, and his wife Mary, and was erected by their American nephew Adrian H. Courtney.
Altar Rails and Choir Stalls – Guide (Sennen, undated) Pinwill & Co. carver; 1939
According to a recent guide, the chancel at Sennen was entirely refurbished in 1939 following a bequest from John Harris Saundry (died 1935) and provided with a new floor of granite and slate, altar rails, choir stalls and panelling. However, the panelling is contiguous with the reredos and it seems likely that it was installed at a later stage, as suggested by Beacham & Pevsner (2014). The choir stalls bear an inscription in memory of John Harris Saundry and feature typical Pinwill semi-kneeling angels in various poses. The backs of the clergy stalls echo the pulpit with more seaweed and fish designs. Faculty plans for the altar rails and choir stalls were submitted in August 1937 (CRO D/R 124/1-2). Working plans by R. F. Wheatly exist for the choir stalls (CRO AD889/33), which were dedicated by the Bishop of Truro in June 1939 (TC, 1939). Altar gates were added later, which would account for an attached plate in memory of someone who died in 1949.
Altar, Reredos and Panelling to N and S – Guide (Sennen, 1954) Miss Pinwill carver; 1953
Beacham & Pevsner (2014) also states that the altar and reredos were installed in 1953 and assume that the adjacent panelling was also of this date, which seems logical. The early guide (1954) states the following:
‘The shallow carving on the reredos did not show up well and on Miss Pinwill’s advice has been gilded with gold leaf. The scenes are of the lifeboat going down the slip with cape Cornwall in the background, the fishermen sharing out the mullet catch, the mullet seine with one big fish, the farmer with his plough, and the fishermen making their crabpots. On the Altar itself is carved the Crown of Thorns, a Cross, and the Chalice and Paten... All the carving is of good, seasoned oak. Miss Pinwill’s carving may be seen in many Cornish Churches.’
Statue of St Andrew – Newspaper article (WT, 1901a) R. Pinwill carver; 1901
It was reported in the Western Times in December 1901 that a stone statue of St Andrew had been placed in a niche in the tower over the western doorway, with a richly carved canopy in Polyphant. It was the work of Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co. of Plymouth and the funds had been raised by Miss Rowe. It was surmised that the niche probably indicated that a statue had been there previously, probably removed in Cromwell’s time. This is the only evidence for this piece.
Rood Screen – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) no carver specified; 1901, 1910 & 1913
There are only two photograph of the screen in PWDRO and those are of the completed and installed central section, one taken from the south and the other from the north. In December 1901 the Bishop of Truro dedicated the new screen, erected to the memory of Ann Eleanor Shearme who died in 1900 (WT, 1901b). The report states that the screen was very much admired and was carved by Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co. to designs by Edmund H. Sedding. The north part of the screen was not erected until 1910 and the south in 1913, at a cost, altogether, of considerably over £700 (DEG, 1913). During the afternoon of 31 July 1913 there was a public tea, a string band played and the bells were rung, prior to the dedication of the screen at Evensong by the Vicar, the Revd C. Leslie Jones.
Rood Base – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4) carver not specified; 1907-08
The photograph of this piece in PWDRO 244/4 is not annotated and is in poor condition. It is fortunate that a report appeared in the Devon and Exeter Gazette to provide more information. It states that in January 1908 the rood screen was graced with a rood set on a base of three pillars with richly carved capitals (DEG, 1908). The pillars are interlaced with a scroll, on which is written in Latin ‘Worthy is the Lamb’ etc. The figures of the crucified Christ, St Mary and St John were made in Oberammergau but the base was the work of Rashleigh Pinwill & Co., from designs by Edmund H. Sedding. The rood and the font cover below were reported as being anonymous gifts.
Font Cover – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4) R. Pinwill carver; 1907-08
The font cover was dedicated at the same service in January 1908 as the rood base (DEG, 1908). It was reported to be Jacobean in style to match the pulpit and was the work of Rashleigh Pinwill & Co. to the designs of Edmund H. Sedding.
War Memorial Belfry Screen – Newspaper article (WMN, 1921a) E. H. Sedding architect; 1919
In an obituary for Edmund H. Sedding it states that he designed a WWI memorial for Stratton church (WMN, 1921a). This memorial took the form of a belfry screen that bears all the hallmarks of a Sedding/Pinwill collaboration. It was dedicated by the Vicar, the Revd C. Leslie Jones, in September 1919 (DEG, 1919).
Lychgate Lintel Inscription – Hedges (2005) V. Pinwill carver; 1932
In a report of a public meeting organised to discuss a fitting memorial for Canon C. Leslie Jones, it was stated that R. F. Wheatly, architect, V. Pinwill, wood carver, and Mr Parkhouse, builder, ‘had kindly offered to give their services in designing, carving, and erecting respectively a lych-gate’ (DEG, 1932a p. 15). The offer was accepted and a lychgate installed and dedicated in December 1932. It was constructed with pillars of Cornish stone supporting a roof of Delabole slates (DEG, 1932b). The timber used was oak from HMS Defiance, the last wooden battleship to fly the White Ensign. The Pinwill contribution was the lintel inscription by woodcarver Ron Dustan, who was sent down to do the work (Hedges, 2005).
Sanctuary Panelling – Photograph (116/105) R. Pinwill carver; 1932
The photograph in PWDRO shows part of the panelling that lines the walls of the sanctuary. Interestingly, the small carved panels bear several different designs employing the ‘dolphin’ motif, used extensively on Renaissance bench ends in Cornwall (pers. obs. & Todd Gray, historian and author, pers. comm.).
St Andrew’s Chapel Panelling, including Wall Panel Memorials – Plan (CRO AD889/34) 1932
Plans exist only for the carved panel bearing a memorial to Canon C. Leslie Jones, which seems to have originally been planned for the sanctuary but now resides in the chapel. The panelling is remararkably similar to that in the sanctuary, with dolphin motifs and linenfolds, and there is no reason not to assume it was part of the same work. There is also a carved panel memorial to George Heston Stainton, organist for 47 years from 1863 to 1930.
The church stands in a beautiful situation above Talland Bay and is notable for its detached tower and a wealth of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century carved bench ends (Cox, 1912).
Reredos, Altar and Panelling – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) no carver specified; 1907
The ornately carved reredos and altar, together with the more plain panelling, are from 1907 and are ‘of good workmanship’ (Talland, undated p. 8). The carved panels on the front of the altar appear to be from a much older piece, perhaps from the rood screen dismantled in the restoration of 1848-50, although this is not mentioned in the guide.
The chapel at Trelowarren was the private place of worship for the Vyvyan family until 1973, when the 12th Baronet Sir John granted a 99-year lease to Trelowarren Christian Fellowship to use part of the house and the chapel as a retreat (trelowarrenretreat.org).
Memorial – Photograph (PWDRO 116/86 & 244/2) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1928
This alabaster memorial is to Lady Eva Catherine Forestier Vyvyan, first wife of Sir Courtenay Bourchier Vyvyan, 10th Baronet (CRO RH/7/6/14). It is simply inscribed ‘E.C.F.V. Jan. 3. 1928.’ and remains as the only memorial in the chapel.
This church was an early design by G. E. Street in 1848-50 to accommodate the expanding population of the china clay area, and forms part of a group of buildings with the vicarage, schoolroom and schoolhouse (Beacham & Pevsner, 2014).
Reredos and Panelling – Photograph (PWDRO 116/87 & 244/2) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1929
The panelling either side of the reredos was placed there in memory of Emma Jane Carey (d. 1919), wife of John Edward Carey, by their children. The reredos itself was the gift of the parishioners in memory of John Edward Carey, Vicar of Treverbyn 1904-1921. A faculty petition for the reredos and panelling is dated January 1929 (CRO D/R 7/53).
Sanctuary Chair – Photograph (PWDRO 116/87) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; after 1926
An inscription on the back of the chair reads ‘The gift of the Parishioners in memory of Samuel Minear who died March 13 1926’.
Font Cover – Photograph (PWDRO 244/3) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
This octagonal font cover is in a familiar Pinwill design, with Aaron’s Rod motif around the edge, but the four curved handles converge in a small finial, rather than a dove.
The Diocese of Truro was created in 1876 and its first Bishop, Edward White Benson, appointed in 1877 (Beacham & Pevsner, 2014). He selected the Gothic Revival architect J. L. Pearson to design a new cathedral, and building work began in 1880 and continued in stages until 1910. The interior was also gradually beautified and embellished over many decades, as the dates for pieces by the Pinwill company testify. Violet Pinwill’s greatest achievement at the cathedral was in the carving of 32 figures for the choir stalls, mainly of Cornish saints, for which she carried out extensive research (GC/PA 21-24). A full survey of Pinwill woodcarvings in Truro Cathedral was carried out in 2016 by Michael Swift and Mark Evans. Many of the dates attributed below are taken from this report to the Diocese.
Altar Rails – Report (Swift & Evans, 2016) V. Pinwill carver; 1920
These rails, situated in the Jesus Chapel, have been identified as being carved by Violet Pinwill. They were given in memory of John Rundle Cornish, Bishop of St Germans, who died in April 1918. There is an unlabelled image of an altar rail in PWDRO 244/4 that bears a striking resemblance but is rather too long.
War Memorial – Photograph (116/88) R. F. Wheatly architect, R. Pinwill carver; 1922
The memorial for WWI at Truro Cathedral consists of a desk for a Book of Remembrance backed by panelling on which ‘1914 For Freedom and Mercy and Truth 1919’ (sic) is carved across the top. The bottom left-hand panel is filled with a Latin inscription. According to Chaytor (1990), a magnificent piece of English oak, found in a Totnes timber yard, was used for this work. Swift & Evans (2016), citing Cathedral sources, present a different origin and state that the wood came from the old St Mary’s church, Truro. The panelling was adapted for use as a combined memorial for WWI and WWII. The desk bears the words ‘True Love by Life – True Love by Death is Tried – Live Ye for England – We for England Died’, which was used on several other war memorials carved by V. Pinwill.
Figures for Choir Stalls – Photographs (PWDRO 116/88, 116/117, 244/1, 244/2 & 244/6) V. Pinwill carver; 1912-1944
There are a total of 32 figures behind the choir stalls. Thirty of them are saints and the other two are King Arthur and the Welsh King Brychan, the purported father of numerous Cornish saints. The figures were carved and installed over several decades, paid for by donations, finally being gilded and coloured about 1965 (Swift & Evans, 2016). In the photographs in PWDRO all but three of the figures are represented. The one of St Neot is unlabelled and appears in 116/117 with other unidentified items. There is evidence in the Women’s Art Library at Goldsmiths College, University of London, of the detailed research that Violet carried out to ensure that her work was as well informed as it could be on the less familiar Cornish saints (GC/PA 21-24). Other saints, however, are recognisable as standard representations used elsewhere. The list below of the saints and dates of their installation are taken from Swift & Evans (2016).
South side (East to West):
St John (1912-29); St Margaret of Antioch (1929-35); Blessed Virgin Mary (1924); St Germanus (1924); St Wenn (1924); St Carantoc (1927-44); St Buriana (1927-44); St Ia (1927-44); St Piran (1927-44); St Breaca (1930-44); St Petroc (1930-44); St Constantine (1930-44); St Richard (1912-29); St Germoe (1930-44); St Aldhelm (1930-44); St Uni (1912-29).
North side (East to West):
St Stephen (1927); St Lawrence (1927); St Rumon (1944); St Neot (1944); King Arthur (no date); St Meriodocus (1930-44); St Winwaloe (1930-34); St Columb (1929-44); King Brychan (1934-44); St Endelienta (1938-45); St Cybi (1934-44); St Paul de Leon (1930-44); St Nectan (1930-44); St Conan (1930-44); St Michael (1927); St Cecilia (1927).
Coat of Arms for Memorial Stall – Newspaper article (WMN, 1943b) V. Pinwill carver; 1943
The only evidence for this item is a report in the Western Morning News in December 1943 that states that Violet Pinwill carved for Truro Cathedral a coat of arms with an old Cornish motto into a stall dedicated to the memory of Emily Glynn Grylls (died 1933). The inscription is located in the St Endelienta quire stall.
Reredos for Mission Chapel – Photograph (PWDRO 116/88, 244/2 & 244/6) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1931
In the South aisle is the Chapel of St Sampson and St Boniface and in 1931 a reredos was placed there in memory of Lady Mary Trefusis (WMN, 1931). It contains four figures similar in style to the ones in the choir stalls. They represent St Paul, St Boniface, St Samson and Henry Martyn, a missionary who was born in Truro. The niches in which they stand are finished at the top with a shell-shaped design, partly gilded. It is clear from the PWDRO photograph that the figures were originally fully painted but at some point have been stripped and lime-washed and are now partly painted and gilded.
Sanctuary Table – Photograph (PWDRO 116/88) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1934
This memorial to Diocesan Inspector of Schools Edward Francis Taylor, who died in 1933, sits in the Chapel of All Saints. It was designed by Frank Loughborough Pearson, son of the architect of the Cathedral, who completed his father’s design (Swift & Evans, 2016).
Rood – Photograph (PWDRO 116/88 & 244/6) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1933
In 1933 this rood group, which bears a Latin inscription, was placed on the central altar in Truro Cathedral (TC, 1933). Sometime since then the figures were moved to the Chapel of St Monica. On the base of the figures there is the signature ‘V. Pinwill’ and ‘CARVER PLYMOUTH’. The group was donated by Bishop Walter Frere in memory of his predecessor, Winfrid Burrows (Swift & Evans, 2016).
Candle Holders (4) – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
The photograph in PWDRO shows four large, carved, painted and gilded floor-standing candle holders that must once have adorned the sanctuary. They have since been replaced by metal candle holders but the wooden ones were put to use. The upper halves have been sawn off, inverted, provided with new bases, and joined by hooks and heavy red rope to cordon off the chancel. The lower halves have been fitted with new candle holders and are still used for funerals (Swift & Evans, 2016). They are kept in the Canons’ vestry.
Cornice for High Altar – Sketch and Estimate (CRO TCM/561) V. Pinwill carver; 1925
In CRO there is a sketch, with covering letter and estimate from V. Pinwill, of a cornice for the high altar dated 1925. On a visit in June 2012 the cornice depicted was not evident, which suggests that V. Pinwill did not receive this commission
After the establishment of the Diocese of Truro, the house that was originally the Vicarage for Kenwyn church (see below) became the Bishop’s Palace in 1878 and was renamed Lis Escop. Alterations to Lis Escop, including the creation of the Chapel of the Intercession for the use of the Bishop, were designed by Edmund H. Sedding (Beacham & Pevsner, 2014) and the building work undertaken in 1908-09 (epiphanyhouse.co.uk). After Lis Escop transferred to Feock in 1953, the house became part of Truro Cathedral School and then, in 1983, the home of the Community of the Epiphany, an Anglican religious order. They brought with them many of the furnishings from their previous chapel, also designed by Edmund H. Sedding. In 2003 the house was gifted to an ecumenical charitable trust, The Epiphany Trust (Truro) Ltd, and is used as a retreat and conference centre. The chapel still holds some of the furnishings brought by the Community of the Epiphany, including the altar, and the whereabouts of the original pieces described below are unknown.
Altar – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) carver not specified; 1912
The photograph in PWDRO 244/4 is unlabelled but is identical to the one in 244/5. A report in the Church Times in March 1912 stated that a new altar in the Chapel of Intercession had been dedicated by the Bishop of Truro (CT, 1912). It was provided by subscriptions of those who had been ordained in the Diocese since its formation, and of the chaplains of the Bishop, and had cost about £80. It was designed by Edmund H. Sedding and the work carried out by Messrs (sic) Rashleigh Pinwill of Plymouth. The report describes the altar and says it is ‘excellent in every way’ and ‘entirely in keeping with the chapel’ (Ibid. p. 323).
Altar Rails – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; after 1921
These rather bulky altar rails are in a Jacobean style similar to the altar (above) but would have been made at a later time, after the death of Edmund H Sedding in 1921. One of them can be seen in a photograph
Sanctuary Lights (3) – Photograph (PWDRO 116/88 & 244/2) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; after 1921
The photograph of this item in PWDRO 116/88 is grouped with ones from Truro Cathedral but is identical to the one in 244/2 labelled ‘Lis Escop’. They are star-shaped light fittings that look very much like metal but are in fact gilded wood.
Credence Table – Photograph (PWDRO 116/55) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
This item was photographed with a sanctuary table for Lansallos and is listed under that church but is marked ‘Lis Escop’.
Truro Diocesan Training College was established in 1813 as part of a scheme to train young people as teachers for the burgeoning number of Church Schools in Cornwall (Brown, 1938). Initially, only masters were trained but in 1842 a Female Training Department was organised. Within a few years, however, the men were moved to Exeter and Truro became a Diocesan Female Training School (later College) for Devon and Cornwall. The chapel for the College was designed by Edmund H. Sedding (WMN, 1921a) and built between 1911 and 1913 (Brown, 1938). The College was declared redundent by the National Church authorities and closed in 1938 and the chapel with it.
Celtic Cross – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) no carver specified; 1913
At the dedication of the chapel on Whitsuntide 1913, most of the essential furniture and fittings were in place, all either gifts or bought with voluntary offerings (Brown, 1938). Among these was a Celtic cross for the altar, given by old students. Among its Celtic carvings are symbols of the Passion and the pelican feeding her young.
Lectern – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) no carver specified; probably 1913 but before 1920
In a photograph of the chapel in Brown (1938), taken after the installation of the rood and rood beam below, there is a lectern that exactly matches one shown in an unannotated photograph in PWDRO 244/5. It may have been a later addition to the furnishings, but it was probably in place for the dedication in 1913.
Rood and Rood Beam – Photograph (PWDRO 116/89 & CRO TCM1166) V. Pinwill carver; 1920
A memorial to the husbands, sons and brothers of teachers trained at the College who died in WWI came in the form of a rood beam, on which were carved their names, that extended across the width of the chapel. On the beam were placed life-size rood figures. The annotation on the photograph at CRO reveals that the rood and beam were completed at the Pinwill workshop by March 1920. They were then dedicated by the Bishop of Truro at Whitsuntide that year (Brown, 1938).
The Holy Child – Photograph (PWDRO 244/1) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
This is an interesting departure from the other figures of the Christ child produced for children’s corners, perhaps reflecting the need to appeal to older young people. The child carries a saw in his left hand and gives a sign of benediction with his right.
Front Rail – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
One of these was probably placed at the front of the chairs on each side. It is rather plain, apart from inverted cresting beneath the top rail.
Rood - Newspaper article (WB, 1955a, b) V. Pinwill carver; 1955
In order to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the the Church of St George the Martyr in 1955, the parishioners raised a total of £560 to furnish the Requium Chapel in the north transept and to provide a hanging rood under the central arch. Newspaper reports before and after the celebrations name ‘the studio of Miss V. Pinwill, the well-known Plymouth Sculptress’ as the source for the rood. It is said to be carved from a single piece of chestnut (history-of-st-george). It was dedicated on 27 October 1955 by the Bishop of Truro. The rood bears a striking similarity to one for Mithian (1924 designed by R.F. Wheatly) and another for the Diocesan Training College in Truro (1920 designed by E.H. Sedding). It seems likely that the Sedding design was reused at Mithian and at St George.
The person responsible for overseeing the centenary celebrations was Revd George Hewson (Vicar 1945-64) and it was he who commissioned the rood from Violet Pinwill. During preparations, he made a visit to her studio, taking along his young son Paul and making a day of it in Plymouth with a walk around the Hoe. Paul remembers Violet Pinwill, who was well into her seventies by then, as well as the war-torn city centre, yet to be rebuilt (Paul Hewson, pers. comm. 17 May 2017).
The entrance to this church is through a picturesque thirteenth-century lychgate with a room over that served for some time as a school.
Altar Cross – Photograph (PWDRO 116/52) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
This small cross sits on the altar in the north transcept chapel.
Organ Screen – Photograph (PWDRO 116/52) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1935
The screen and the organ itself were the gift of Arthur William Gill in memory of his father and mother, William Nicholas Gill (died 1916) and Ada Gill (died 1922) and dedicated in February 1935.
Altar Rails – Hedges (2005); 1930s
Ron Dustan, who worked for Violet Pinwill in the 1930s recalls working on altar rails for this church. Those in the church at present are of a design consistant with Pinwill work at this time.
Font Cover – No documentary evidence; date unknown
The font cover is almost identical in design to those at Broadclyst in Devon and at Kenwyn, Landulph and Pillaton in Cornwall, with Aaron’s rod motif around the base and four arching handles surmounted by a dove, although it is oblong rather than round.
The church of St Paul was built as a chapel of ease to St Clements in 1868 by John Dando Sedding (Beacham & Pevsner, 2014). Edmund H. Sedding was responsible for the completion of the tower in 1909-10. By 1952 serious structural cracking in the tower was noted (chestertonhumberts.com). More recently it was discovered that the east gable is moving and the polyphant stone is crumbling; severe dry rot has been found in the organ chamber. It was closed in 2007 and is currently (November 2015) still for sale, although the cost of repairs is estimated to be around £3m. Access is not possible to ascertain whether the screens below still exist.
Parclose Screen – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) R. Pinwill carver; date unknown
Screen – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) carver not specified; after 1912
This is probably another parclose screen, dedicated to the memory of Mary Anne Wilson (died 1912).
Litany Desk – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
This small item, with simple arms of a cross and four fleur de lys, is rather overshadowed by the wealth of bench ends in the Lady Chapel carved by Harry Hems in 1880 that bear the arms of the Rashleigh family back to 1388 (Hewer, undated).
Altar – Photograph (PWDRO 116/114, 244/1, 244/4 & 244/5) R. Pinwill / V. Pinwill carver; 1915
There are three photographs of this altar in PWDRO, one of which is marked ‘R. Pinwill’ altered to ‘V. Pinwill’. In a letter in support of a faculty petition in 1934 for the items below, Revd Gerwyn Rhys refers to the main altar made of oak (CRO D/R 12/46) and his remarks are most interesting:
... it is not a success – in fact it and its surroundings are hideous; but the Altar was put in as a Memorial some years ago by a family who show no sign of developing any artistic sense, and therefore we are helpless in the matter. The Altar was made by Miss Pinwell [sic] of Plymouth, and when she was down the other day she herself declared that it was out of place, and that she was only too thankful that she had in no way been responsible for the design and general effect.
The altar is similar to several others made in the Pinwill workshop for Cornish churches, with a Celtic cross in the centre and some decorative carving, but otherwise plain. It is by no means ‘hideous’ and it is rather surprising that Violet Pinwill was willing to criticise the design, although Revd Rhys may have been putting words in her mouth for the sake of the point he was making (see below). The guide (Veryan, 2013) states that the altar was given in 1915 by Mrs Braund in memory of her husband.
Restoration of Side Chapel
The faculty petition in May 1934 mentioned above (CRO D/R 12/46) was for the restoration of a side chapel at the east end of the north aisle. Mrs Tribe of Barn Cottage, Veryan, offered to restore and furnish the chapel in memory of her husband Dr Alfred Gladstone Tribe (died 1928). Revd Rhys, in consultation with Mrs Tribe, decided that granite was the most suitable material for the chapel altar, following what he saw as the lack of success of the one in oak in the sanctuary and because ‘with an oak Altar there would be a need for silk hangings etc, which in years to come would have to be replaced, perhaps by people of doubtful taste and limited means’. The Diocesan Registrar attempted to dissuade Revd Rhys, as stone altars were not encouraged, but the faculty was nevertheless issued a few months later. Accompanying the faculty petition was a sketch by Snell & Sons of Newlyn, sculptors in stone, of an altar with fine-dressed granite mensa supported by octagonal pillars.
Parclose Screens (2) – Photograph (PWDRO 116/83) V. Pinwill designer and carver; 1935
Panelling – Plan (CRO D/R 12/46) V. Pinwill designer and carver; 1935
Included in the faculty petition for the restoration of the chapel was a plan by Violet Pinwill for parclose screens and panelling. The plan shows limited detail of the decorative parts of the work but the parclose screen is recognisable as the one illustrated in PWDRO 116/83 and those now in place in the church. The panelling, however, is not represented in the photographs at PWDRO. It is very plain with only a carved border highlighted in gold and turquoise and gilded cresting above the central portion. The guide (Veryan, 2013) states that the restoration work took place in 1935.
Altar Rails (2 pairs) – Hedges (2005); 1930s, probably 1935
The altar rails in the sanctuary and in the chapel are identical in design (although the former are wider) and may well have been made by V. Pinwill. The chapel rails were probably part of the restoration work of 1935 and it can be assumed that those in the sanctuary are contemporaneous.
Organ Screen – Hedges (2005); 1930s
Prior to the restoration of the chapel, this was where the organ resided and it was necessary to move it to its current position in the south transept (Veryan, 2013). While it is possible that joiners employed by the Pinwill company assisted in the repositioning and fitting of the organ, the lack of any carving on the case suggests that no new work was carried out.
In the list of churches supplied by Chaytor (1990, p. 68) of where Violet Pinwill’s work exists, there is an entry for ‘Warrington’. However, a search for ‘Pinwill’ in the database of records held at CRO revealed that work had been carried out at Werrington and it has been assumed that the name was spelt incorrectly in Chaytor.
Chancel and Sanctuary Panelling – Chaytor (1990) as ‘Warrington’; Plans (CRO D/R 146/1-3) V. Pinwill designer and carver; 1932
The oak panelling that lines the chancel and the corners either side of the reredos features low relief carvings, one depicting St Martin sharing his cloak with the beggar and another St Giles protecting the hunted hind. The original dedication was to R. Carlyon Coode (died 1931) of Polapit Tamar, a wealthy local landowner and magistrate, but a later inscription remembers his son Perceval Edward Gott Coode, who was killed in action at Cheux in 1944 in the Battle of Caen. Also commemorated by their initials are other members of the Coode family.
The work of Violet Pinwill is represented in at least 18 churches outside of Devon and Cornwall. Some of these were commissions brought by Edmund H. Sedding, but many were from other architects, a number of whom worked with Violet in Devon or Cornwall. Several other commissions were channelled through members of the Pinwill family. All of them fall within the period after about 1907 when Violet was the sole proprietor of the woodcarving business.
All the pieces listed below are currently in the church and in use (Breyan Knowles, warden, pers. comm.). There is no indication as to how these commissions were obtained, although Edmund H. Sedding was responsible for the design of the war memorial and the other pieces are probably his work as well.
Pulpit – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) carver not specified; 1914
The photograph shows an octagonal, elaborately carved pulpit with figures of the Madonna and child and John the Baptist. The inscription on the pulpit states that it is in memory of ‘Amy Edith Mary Bullivant AD 1914’ (Breyan Knowles, warden, pers. comm.). A death notice in the Slough Chronicle states that Amy died in November 1912 at Queen Anne’s Mansions, SW London, the beloved wife of Frederick Arthur Bullivant, who was also of ‘Thatched House, Moulsford’ (SC, 1912 p. 16).
Lectern – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) carver not specified; probably 1914
The lectern also bears an inscription stating that it is in memeory of Amy Bullivant from ‘her loving children’ (Breyan Knowles, warden, pers. comm.), which strongly suggests it was commissioned at the same time as the pulpit.
Litany Desk – Photograph (PWDRO 116/93, 244/4 & 244/5) R. Pinwill carver; probably 1914
The litany desk has no inscription (Breyan Knowles, warden, pers. comm.) but the design is similar in style to the pulpit and lectern and is probably contemporaneous with them. On each of the sides is a figure of an angel, one carrying a scythe and a sheaf of wheat and the other holding a long trumpet, both suggestive of the gathering in of good souls.
War Memorial – Newspaper article (WMN, 1921a) E. H. Sedding architect; between 1918 and 1921
An obituary for Edmund H. Sedding states that he designed a war memorial for Moulsford church. This took the form of an elaborately carved clergy stall, the seat of which bears an inscription stating that it is in memory of ‘Lieu Charles Gordon Mills 1st Batt Coldstream Grds who was killed in action’ (Breyan Knowles, warden, pers. comm.). The front of the desk features a kneeling soldier (very similar in design to the one on the memorial at St Martin by Looe) before a seated Christ. Crowning either end of the desk is a pair of angels clasping a shield, one of which bears the regimental badge of the Coldstream Guards. On the sides of the desk are shields with the initials ‘CGM’ and ‘AD 1914-18’. Charles was 19 when he died, the son of Charles Antony and Maud Mills of The Manor, Moulsford (cwgc.org). There is no reason not to think that V. Pinwill carved this fine piece of work.
Chair and Prie-Dieu – Photograph (PWDRO 116/92) no carver specified; 1933-45
This commission for a chair and prie-dieu (prayer desk) would have come through Revd Henry Chaytor, husband of Violet’s sister Mary Rashleigh, when he was Master of St Catharine’s College between 1933 and 1945 (Chaytor, 1990). Both the chair and the prie-dieu bear the spiked wheel emblematic of St Catharine. In addition, the pri-dieu features a shield with a large ‘C’ in which sits ‘ST’, indicating St Catharine. Another shield bears arms believed to have been used by the founder of St Catharine’s, Robert Woodlark, showing a fleur de lys and lion, though research indicates they are probably spurious (Elizabeth Ennion-Smith, College Archivist, pers. comm.). Enquiries to the College revealed initially that the pieces were no longer in the chapel and their whereabouts unknown. A search by the College Archivist resulted in their discovery in a storeroom, although the prie-dieu has been sawn off about 30cm from the base, probably to create a desk top lectern. Photographs of the pieces were willingly supplied.
In 1899 Violet’s sister Bertha married Robert Russ Conway, who was Bursar and Assistant Master at Weymouth College from 1901 to 1917 and Headmaster 1917 to 1927 (WG, 1949). After he retired, Robert became Warden at St Andrew’s in Preston, a post in which he remained for nearly 20 years. As well as the item below, the church contains a stained glass window in memory of their daughter Constance, who died of meningitis in 1921. The window was originally in Weymouth College chapel but was transferred to St Andrew’s when the school closed in 1940 (WG, 1940).
Altar Rails – Chaytor (1990) V. Pinwill carver; 1951
Robert died in 1950 and Bertha in 1951. In the following year, memorial altar rails were placed in the church, featuring the four evangelists in their symbolic forms. An inscription on the sanctuary panelling provides details of the lives of Robert and Bertha.
While Robert Russ Conway, husband of Bertha Pinwill, was Headmaster at Weymouth College, he commissioned a substantial piece of work from V. Pinwill for the chapel there. In April 1940 Weymouth College became the first public school in England to fall victim to wartime economic problems and was forced to close its doors (WG, 1940). It was fortuitous that a new church was being built nearby for the growing population of the area. This was St Aldhelm and it was decided that the north aisle would be put at the disposal of the School for the reception of furniture from the chapel there (Anon, 1949). In addition, new pieces were later commissioned for the church.
War Memorial Panelling, Choir Stalls & Seat – Photograph (PWDRO 116/94) V. Pinwill carver; 1921 and 1949
Three identical photographs at PWDRO show panelling on which are carved the names of 84 old boys of Weymouth School who died in WWI and a border of oak leaves, birds, lizards and other wildlife. Visible in front of the panelling are choir stalls that formed part of the memorial, designed by H. W. Crickmay of Weymouth (Kernot, 1927). The ensemble also included a seat presented by Mrs Ritson in memory of her husband Francis, designed by Basil Stallybrass of Plymouth. A service of commemoration, during which the memorial was unveilded and dedicated, was held on 25 July 1921 (WG, 1921). The memorial panelling and furniture were transferred to St Aldhelm’s church when Weymouth College closed in 1940. By 1949 the names of those who died in WWII were added to the panelling by V. Pinwill and a service of dedication held on October 8th (Anon, 1949).
Desk for Visitor’s Book – Anon (1949) V. Pinwill carver; 1949
A booklet produced for the dedication service (Anon, 1949) provides the information that as well as additions to the memorial, V. Pinwill was commissioned to make a desk for a visitor’s book bound in blue calf and presented by Mrs Score. The desk was also designed to house books of remembrance. The new visitor’s book was used at the dedication service and the first entries are R. R. Conway and B. C. Conway, followed soon after by C. A. G. Ward and L. S. Ward (their daughter and son-in-law).
Parclose Screen – Anon (1952) V. Pinwill carver; 1952
Weymouth College was again commemorated at St Aldhelm’s in 1952 by the installation of a parclose screen, dedicated to the memory of all the headmasters, including Robert Russ Conway, who had died two years previously. It features a border with the traditional motif of grapevine and birds. A service of dedication for the screen and for the books of remembrance mentioned above was held on 1st June (Anon, 1952).
In 1867 St Mary’s House of Mercy, a 'penitentiary for fallen women', was built with an infirmary and a chapel (greatmaplestead.com). It later became a home for children, until 1959 when the building and chapel were demolished.
Altar Frontal – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) R. Pinwill carver; date unknown but after 1911
An altar frontal for the chapel bears a nativity scene carved in wood, almost identical in design to the one in alabaster at Ermington (1911) and very similar to the one in wood at Abbotsbury (1924). A maquette made for the Ermington carving (which is the finest and undoubtedly the first) was retained by V. Pinwill and can be seen in a photograph of the workshop in PWDRO 244/5, datable to 1917. The interpretation of the maquette in this altar frontal is not as elegant as either of the others, although it is still a beautiful piece of work. There is no mention of the architect involved, if indeed there was one, but equally there is no indication of how the commission was obtained. The whereabouts of the altar is unknown (J. Blore, Team Rector, Halstead, pers. comm.).
Pulpit – Photograph (PWDRO 244/1) Sir Charles Nicholson architect, V. Pinwill carver; 1926-30
There is no direct evidence in the photographs at PWDRO of V. Pinwill working elsewhere with Sir Charles Nicholson, although a letter from the architect concerning new furniture and fittings at Bodmin church, dated 1931, mentions her work as being ‘first rate’ (CRO P13/2/69), a view he is likely to have formed from the work carried out both at Lee, London (q.v.) in 1921 and here. Sir Charles trained as an architect under John Dando Sedding and no doubt formed a working relationship with Edmund H. Sedding and thereby became aware of Violet’s skills. Extensive additions to St Laurence church were carried out by Sir Charles between 1926 and 1930 and the pulpit is undoubtedly from that period. Attribution for the pulpit is provided in Cherry, O’Brien and Pevsner (2005). It is still in use, although moved from the central area during re-ordering of the church in 2002 (Chris Mowat, warden, pers. comm.). Nicholson is thought to have also designed the present choir stalls, and it is possible that V. Pinwill produced them, although this is only circumstantial evidence.
St Michael’s School was situated on the outskirts of Cirencester and was under the care of the Anglican Sisters of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, Oxford, providing education for girls aged 9 to 18, but appears to no longer exist.
Figure of Female Saint – Photograph (PWDRO 116/95) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
This statue of an unknown female saint was made for St Michael’s School.
Hanging Cross – Photograph (HMA), Photograph (PWDRO 244/4); date unknown
In the album presented to Hubert Minchinton by Violet Pinwill on his retirement is a photograph entitled ‘Hanging Cross for Cirencester’, presumably destined for St Michael’s School. It features the Lamb of God in the centre and on the four ends the symbols of the Evangelists. It matches an unannotated photograph in PWDRO 244/4.
Lectern – Newspaper article (PEN, 1951) V. Pinwill carver; c. 1951
In a short report in the Portsmouth Evening News about an anonymous gift to St Cuthbert’s of money for the purchase of a wafer box, it adds that the beautiful lectern in the church was made by Miss Pinwill.
The church at Netley was built 1886-90 by John Dando Sedding and some of his internal fittings remain (Peter Hoadley RIBA, Netley church, pers. comm.).
Figures for Reredos – Photograph (PWDRO 116/104, 244/4 & 244/5) R. Pinwill carver; before 1917
These finely carved alabaster figures are of St Edward and the Madonna and child, the maquettes for which are shown in the 1917 photograph of the workshop. The figures stand in two carved niches at either side of the reredos, with a central one housing a golden cross. The reredos for which these figures were made was in place by about 1900 and may even have been part of the original design (Peter Hoadley RIBA, Netley church, pers. comm.). It seems likely that this commission, and the one below, came through Edmund H. Sedding but the label in the photograph does not acknowledge any architect.
Panelling – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) R. Pinwill carver; probably before 1917
This panelling, with linen fold decoration, slight vaulting and cresting, is probably contemporaneous with the figures above. It is situated in the sanctuary, lining the walls on all three sides, and incorporates a sedilia on the right-hand side, which is not shown in the PWDRO photograph.
Screen – Newspaper article (WMN, 1921) E. H. Sedding architect
According to an obituary of Edmund H. Sedding, he designed a new screen for Netley church but the only screens in the church are ones in iron by John Dando Sedding (Peter Hoadley RIBA, Netley church, pers. comm.).
Reredos – Photograph (PWDRO 116/91, 244/4 & 244/5) Moore, Smith & Durrant architects, R. Pinwill carver; 1915
This beautifully carved and elaborate reredos, featuring Christ as King and four praying angels, is described as ‘undoubtedly, the outstanding feature’ of the church (Hastie, 1996 cited in hertfordshire-genealogy.co.uk). The photograph at PWDRO depicts the reredos in its recently-carved state but ones available online (hertfordshirechurches.com) show it in its full glory, entirely coloured and gilded. It was presented in 1915 by the Longman family (of publishing fame) as a memorial to Arthur Hampton Longman and his wife Alicia. A label photographed with the reredos before despatch states that the architects were Moore, Smith and Durrant of London but there is no indication of how the commission was obtained.
Figure of the Christ Child – Photograph (PWDRO 116/96) V. Pinwill carver; after 1922
This statue is identical to the five others of the Christ child found in Plymouth and Cornwall. It has red and gold borders on the robe and stands on a plinth beneath a carved canopy. John E. Vigar of the Kent Churches website (kentchurches.info) was able to confirm that the statue remains in the church within what is still the children’s corner. A website devoted to the work of George H. Fellowes Prynne (gfp.sharpville.org) states that the children’s corner at Benenden was designed by him. V. Pinwill worked with Prynne on several occasion, most notably on the screen at Landulph. There is an acknowledgement of the origin of the statue in the church guide, which informs that it is ‘a West Country wood carving’ (Lebon, undated p. 4). A plaque beneath the statue states that it was given in memory of Lieutenant Frank Cooper Ledgard of the Yorkshire Regiment, who died in October 1914 at Ypres, by his sister Lady Margaret Helen Ledgard. Margaret married Sir Henry Ledgard (probably her cousin) in 1922 and moved to Benenden (TT, 1946), after which she commemorated her brother’s bravery in the church there.
Figure of St Peter – Newspaper article (WMN, 1957) V. Pinwill carver; 1956
It is reported in several obituaries of Violet Pinwill, including ones in the Western Morning News and The Times, that just before her death on 1st January 1957 she completed work on a life-size figure of St Peter for a church in Blackburn, Lancashire, dedicated to that saint. This church was opened in 1821 but demolished in 1976 after extensive damage from dry rot (thisislancashire.co.uk), leaving only the spire and the graveyard.
St Margaret’s is a prime example of the lengths to which exponents of Gothic Revival were able to go when money was not a limiting factor. The church was transformed between 1875 and 1900 by a ‘lavish scheme of embellishment’ that employed the skills of some of the finest craftsmen available at the time. These are commemorated in a book by Sir Ian Mills (2006), who was thrilled to hear of another contributor to the glories of St Margaret.
Roll of Honour and Altar – Photographs (PWDRO 116/97) R. Pinwill carver; 1921
The WWI memorial in this church consists of the altar and a wooden plaque listing names. The altar features five niches in which there are statues of Christ the King in the centre flanked by four saints, St Augustine, St Margaret, St Mildred and St John. These represent the patron saints of the mother church and the three daughter churches of the parish. The Christ statue is very similar to the one at Apsley End, but unlike the figures there, these are not gilded and painted. The Roll of Honour and Altar were designed by Sir Charles Nicholson (Mills, 2006), although he is not acknowledged in the photograph at PWDRO. This was the first of two known occasions on which the pair collaborated, the other being at Upminster, Essex (q.v.). The work was dedicated by the Bishop of Southwark on 20 July 1921 (stmargaretslee.org.uk).
Bench Ends – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) no carver specified; date unknown
This set of seven bench ends are of a rather understated but beautifully carved design. The photograph appears to be annotated ‘Stoke Newington London’ at the top but ‘Newington London’ at the bottom. The church of St Mary, Stoke Newington, has similar, but not identical, bench ends (Mark Perrett, administrator, pers. comm.) and St Matthias, Stoke Newington, not only suffered severe damage in WWII but has recently installed new pews (stmchurch.co.uk). St Mary’s, Newington, was burnt out in 1941 and not rebuilt until 1958 (achurchnearyou.com 2). The conclusion must be that these bench ends no longer exist and that their intended location may never be ascertained.
Litany Desk – Photograph (PWDRO 116/118) V. Pinwill carver; 1930
According to the inscription, this litany desk was commissioned by John Greig, Old Hamptonian 1883-86 in 1930. It also bears the crest and motto of the school on the front and a vine design on the side.
Reredos – Photograph (Chaytor, 1990); Newspaper article (WG, 1889a); Faculty (SHC D\D\Cf/1889/5) E. Sedding designer, R. Pinwill carver; 1889
This was one of the first pieces of work carried out by Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co. and is pictured behind a group consisting of Edmund H. Sedding, Ethel Pinwill, Giles the carver, Flashman the joiner, and Mary and Violet Pinwill. Its location was only discovered through a report in the Western Gazette of its dedication in June 1889, in which the piece is described in great detail. It is extremely elaborate, with carving on every surface, and represents an early design from Sedding, perhaps still very much under the influence of his uncle. A faculty for the reredos, dated 1889, is held at Somerset Heritage Centre (SHC D\D\Cf/1889/5). The reredos caused quite a stir locally and it was reported a fornight after the dedication service that a number of people from neighbouring places had visited the church to see it and expressed interest and admiration (WG, 1889b).
The church of St Gregory is an otherwise plain church but with several rather ornate pieces of furnishing. Apart from the highly carved oak choir stalls and lectern described below, there is a pair of marble and alabaster altar rails that appear to be identical to ones at Shaldon, Devon, that were designed by Henry Wilson, pupil of and successor to John Dando Sedding (Manton, 2009). Unfortunately, as yet, no documentary records have been found to prove Wilson’s involvement in the design or execution of the Weare rails.
Choir Stalls – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) no carver specified; 1905
As well as depictions of the life of St Gregory, these choir stalls bear elaborately carved poppy heads, reminiscent of the ones at Crantock and Lanteglos by Fowey. According to his obituary (WMN, 1921a), Edmund H. Sedding designed them for ‘Mrs Luttrell’, the widow of Henry Acland Fownes Luttrell of Badgworth Court (Margaret Jordan, Friends of St Gregory’s, pers. comm.) who died in 1893. The stalls were commissioned as part of a restoration, for which a faculty dated 1901 is held at Somerset Heritage Centre (SHC D\D\Cf/1901/28). The panels for the choir stalls formed part of an exhibiton of work by Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co., held at Harris & Sons, Plymouth, in February 1905. They were reported as being ‘very original in design, the naturalistic fruit and foliage introduced in the tracery having an extremely light and graceful effect’ (WMN, 1905a p. 8). A further report in December 1905 states that the ‘very elaborate’ choir stalls had been erected in Weare church (WMN, 1905b p. 6).
Lectern – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) no carver specified; 1908
This intricate lectern was the gift of Miss Lutrell of Badgworth Court in memory of her mother Mary Anne Ruscombe Fownes Luttrell (i.e. ‘Mrs Luttrell’) who died in March 1908 (WM, 1908). The lectern features emblems of the four evangelists on brackets, while at the base four panels bear the arms of the Luttrell family and those of the sees of Bath and Wells and of the combined episcopate. It was designed by Edmund H. Sedding (WMN, 1921a).
Litany Desk – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) no carver specified; date unknown
The PWDRO photograph of this piece is marked ‘Stratton Church’ but on a visit there in November 2011 Val Barker, church historian, stated that it was not something she recognised at all. In October 2016, Margaret Jordan, Friends of St Gregory’s, found a discarded and filthy litany desk at the back of a cupboard that she thought might be a Pinwill item. It matches exactly the one marked ‘Stratton Church’, so that after nearly five years the mystery is solved. The sides of the desk feature a stylised rose from which rise naturalistic briar stems.
Reredos – Photograph (PWDRO 116/98, 244/4 & 244/5) R. Pinwill carver; date unknown
The duplicate photographs of this reredos show a finely carved scene depicting the Annunciation in the centre, with canopied niches either side. A large label reads ‘Reredos by Rashleigh Pinwell (sic) & Co. Blurton Church Stoke-on-Trent’, which illustrates the difficulty the Pinwills had in getting their name spelt correctly, even on their own stationery. At some point, two figures, including one of St Bartholomew, were placed in the niches (Peter Mockford, Vicar, St Bartholomew, Blurton, pers. comm.) that were likely to have been carved by R. Pinwill.
Unknown item – Chaytor (1990)
Photographs of the interior of St Mary’s church and information on the fittings (sussexparishchurches.org) suggest that the most likely candidate for work by V. Pinwill is the rather modern-looking pulpit, but further investigation is required.
St George's Cathedral was designed by Sir Arthur Blomfield and opened on 24 August 1892 (wikipedia.org St George). It is one of the tallest wooden churches in the world, at a height of 43.5 metres (143 ft) and is characterised mainly by Gothic arches, clustered columns and flying buttresses, but with a tropical flavour.
Figure of Madonna and Child – Photograph (PWDRO 116/103 & 244/3) R. F. Wheatly architect, V. Pinwill carver; after 1921
This figure has many similarities to the one at Falmouth All Saints, particularly in the Madonna’s clothing, but the pose is slightly different. Quite how this commission came about is unknown but the date is after the death of Edmund H. Sedding in 1921, when Wheatly took over much of the architectural work with V. Pinwill.
Mantle and Cupboard Doors – Local tradition, Pinwill sisters carvers; date unknown
Local people maintain that these items, located in a private house near the church, were carved by the Pinwill sisters. A visit in November 2013 concluded that the work was probably not by the Pinwills. It did reveal, however, that several carvers seemed to be involved in creating the pieces. Swags of flowers and fruit on either side of the mantle were of a high standard of design and execution but the carving and the finish on the rest of the piece were less impressive. The panels of the cupboard doors contained shallow carvings of flowers in a simple but competent style. The suggestion was also made that if the carvings were by the Pinwill sisters, then they must have lived there at some time but there is no evidence for this. At the time that Rev. Edmund Pinwill was at Ermington, Kingston was a daughter church and he travelled there regularly to conduct services (Chaytor, 1990). The church of St James the Less in Kingston was restored by Edmund H. Sedding between 1893 and 1907 but he does not seem to have employed the woodcarving skills of the Pinwill sisters, although the guide (Petter, 2009) states that one of them helped run a bazaar to raise funds for the work. Perhaps rather surprisingly, there is no attributable Pinwill work in Kingston.
Mantlepiece – Obituary (unknown newspaper, 1957) V. Pinwill carver; ca 1945
In an obituary for Violet Pinwill, it states ‘years ago she and her sister (sic) carved the magnificent rood screen for Mary Tavy Church and over 50 years later she carved an oak mantlepiece for the new Mary Tavy Rectory’. This implies a date of around 1945, which happens to be when the old rectory was sold (PWDRO 307/1349) and presumably a new one was built.
Oak Frame – Newspaper article (WDM, 1889) R. Pinwill carver; 1889
A copy of ‘Virgin and Child with St Jerome and St Francis’ by Perugino (then, as now, in the National Gallery) was produced in watercolour by Arthur Shelley and displayed by Messrs Harris & Sons at their rooms in Union Street, Plymouth. An oak frame had been carved specifically for the work by the Misses Pinwill of Ermington. This was announced in November 1889, making the frame the third (known) piece of work by the Pinwill sisters, after the Chilthorne Domer reredos and the Ermington pulpit, although numerous other small pieces may have been produced around this time, before the company of Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co. was formed.
Lamp Base – Chaytor (1990) V. Pinwill carver; 1950
This is an item described in Chaytor (1990) and in reports in the Western Morning News (1950a; 1950b). On 15 July 1950, at Saltram House, Plymouth, a lampstand and shade were presented to Winston Churchill, Leader of the Opposition, on the occasion of ‘Plymouth Fair’, a political fête and demonstration. It had been bought through public subscription but V. Pinwill was commissioned by the City Council to create the lamp base. This was made out of a block of wood from HMS Implacable on which was carved a view of Drake’s Island. The shade was prepared and painted by A. H. J. Mockridge, late of Plymouth School of Art. Churchill wrote to thank the people of Plymouth for the ‘most attractive and useful present’ (WMN, 1950b p. 3).
Restored Ivory Boxes – Photograph (PWDRO 116/120 & 244/3) V. Pinwill carver; probably 1931-37
This photograph of three ivory boxes is annotated ‘Restored for The Hon Mr F Guest’. This is undoubtedly Frederick Edward Guest, first cousin and political ally of Winston Churchill, who, after rejoining the Conservative Party, became MP for Plymouth Drake in 1931 and remained in that position until his death in 1937 (wikipedia.org Frederick Guest).
Book Rack – Newspaper article (DEG, 1936) V. Pinwill carver; 1936
In April 1936, a farewell presentation on behalf of the Plymouth Division, Girl Guides, was made to the County Commissioner, Lady Clinton, on her retirement from the position of Division Commander. The gift was a carved oak book rack made by V. Pinwill. There is no photograph of this item at PWDRO and its existence is only recorded in an article on the presentation in the Devon & Exeter Gazette.
Roundel – Photograph (PWDRO 244/1 & 244/6) V. Pinwill carver; possibly 1907-1909
This roundel bears the words ‘Incorporation of the Guardians of Plymouth’ around the edge, and in the centre are the four castles (symbolic of Plymouth) around a beehive and the dates ‘1630’ and ‘1708’. The wording and dates refer to the implementation of poor law in Plymouth. The first workhouse, the Hospital of the Poor’s Portion in Catherine Street, was created as a charity in 1630 (workhouses.org). In 1708 Plymouth was one of the first towns to be incorporated by a local Act of Parliament, which allowed the two parishes of Plymouth St Andrew and Plymouth Charles to unite for the purposes of poor law administration, and the Hospital was transferred to a Corporation of the Guardians of the Poor. A new workhouse was built and completed in 1858, later becoming Freedom Fields Hospital. Between 1907 and 1910 a major development was undertaken to improve facilities. This included the erection of two large ward blocks, an administration block and a nurses home, all linked by corridors (PWDRO PCC/60/1/7102). Designed by Thornely and Rooke, the new infirmary was opened in 1909. The nurses home in Greenbank Terrace, known as Freedom House, was the only building left standing when Freedom Fields Hospital was demolished and housing built on the site in 2000. The elaborate cartouche over the main doorway includes a shield identical in design to the roundel made by V. Pinwill. The probability is that the carving was made for Freedom House or another building in the new complex during the period of building bwteen 1907 and 1909.
Counter Front – Newspaper article (WMN, 1933f) V. Pinwill carver; 1933
Pillar Capitals (2) and Clock Cases (2) – Photographs (PWDRO 116/23) V. Pinwill carver; 1933
A newspaper article in April 1933 in the Western Morning News describes the Central Hall in the reconstructed interior of Westwell Street Head Post Office in Plymouth and states that all the woodwork was of British oak and that much of it has been beautifully carved by Miss Pinwill, of Plymouth, including the counter front and the capitals of the two pillars. This implies that there was more work undertaken by V. Pinwill than is represented by the photographs in PWDRO 116/23, not least the counter front, which at 102’ in length was a not insignificant undertaking. The opening ceremony included an evening event held in the Guildhall and it was reported that ‘Miss Pinwill... wore silver grey, with a blue and grey straw hat’ (WMN, 1933g p. 6). Unfortunately, the Post Office was completely destroyed in a bombing raid on the night of 20 March 1941 (Twyford, 2005).
Chair – Photograph (PWDRO 116/21) V. Pinwill carver; 1931
The carved features on this formal chair include lion heads on the ends of the arms, floral borders on the back and scroll work couching a shield depicting the winged ox, symbol of St Luke, patron saint of doctors. An inscription states that it was presented to The Plymouth Medical Society by Mabel L. Ramsay MD FRCS, President 1930-31, the first woman to hold that post. A report of the Honorary Secretaries of the Plymouth Medical Society for the year 1930-31 refers to ‘the generous gift of a chair by the retiring president, Dr Mabel Ramsay, for use by all future presidents of the Society’ (PWDRO 1670/7). Dr Ramsay, among other roles, was Honorary Secretary, and then President, of the Medical Women’s Federation, which encouraged the work of medical women all over the country (WMN, 1932b). She was also a founding member of the Plymouth Soroptimists (WMN, 1949b). The chair is still used on official occasions and resides at the Post Graduate Medical School in the John Bull Building at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth (H. Preston, Mabel Ramsay biographer, pers. comm.). In November 2014, a blue plaque was placed on 4 Wentworth Villas, North Hill, where Dr Ramsey practiced medicine from 1908 to 1945 (TH, 2104). This was the first blue plaque in Plymouth to commemorate a woman.
Drake Trophy – Photograph (PWDRO 116/20) V. Pinwill carver; 1945
The figure of Drake, with bowling ball in hand, stands below a carving of a galleon, emphasising the sailing connection, and next to slots for the names of winners of the Trophy for each year between 1945 and 1958. At the bottom an inscription states that it was a replacement for the Shanghai Shield destroyed by enemy action in 1941. An enquiry to the RWYC on the whereabouts of the Trophy met with no response.
War Memorial – Photograph (PWDRO 116/22) no carver specified; after 1945
A simple three-panelled war memorial lists the eleven men and three women workers at the RWY Victualling Depot who died in WII. At the bottom it is inscribed ‘Presented by G. A. Christian S.A.S.O. 1941-46’. This was the Superintending Victualling Store Officer responsible for the Yard during that period. The memorial is held by the Naval History Centre in Devonport Dockyard (Bob Cook, Devonport Naval History Centre, pers. comm.), although it is not currently (November 2015) on display.
Egg and Dart Cornice – Newspaper article (WMN, 1938d) V. Pinwill carver; 1938
The Pinwill workshop in St Lawrence Yard was shared during the later years with a major building contractor, J. W. Spencer. In 1937 the company won a prestigious contract to build the new premises for The Western Morning News Co. Ltd in what was then Frankfort Street (WMN, 1937). Although the frontage was designed in the Queen Anne style, it was a thoroughly modern building, with reinforced concrete floors to withstand bombing. This explains why it was the only building left standing in Frankfort Street after the blitz (Twyford, 2005) and therefore why it is out of line with the frontage of the post-war development in what is now New George Street. A report in the Western Morning News on the building after the opening in December 1938 stated that the walls of the large ground floor office were panelled in pine to their full height and that the ‘cornices are richly decorated with fine hand carving, which is typical in design and craftsmanship of the best work of the Georgian era’ (WMN, 1938d p. 5). Almost at the end of a long list of minor contractors we read that ‘Miss Pinwill, Plymouth’ was responsible for the egg and dart carving for the cornice. Whether this commission had anything to do with J. W. Spencer being the main building contractor is not known, although Violet was certainly not in need of work being passed her way at this time. The cornice, unfortunately, is no longer there. When the newspaper relocated to purpose-built premises at Derriford on the outskirts of Plymouth in 1993, the New George Street building was sold to a developer, who kept the facade but knocked down and rebuilt the premises behind it (plymouthherald.co.uk). It is now (November 2015) a complex of shops, including Waterstones.
Panels for Sporting Events (4) – Photograph (PWDRO 116/24) V. Pinwill carver; probably ca 1935
These are rather curious pieces of work, as there is no obvious purpose to the panels. They depict various sports under which are the categories ‘Girls Under 17’, ‘Girls Under 20’, ‘Boys Under 17’ and ‘Boys Under 20’. The photograph is annotated ‘Plymouth Youth Committee’, a City Council subcommittee responsible for the promotion of sport and other activities for young people (PWDRO 1419/32). The panels bear a striking resemblance to carvings of sports on a panel that Violet made for her great nephew in 1941 (GC/PA), a photograph of which bears the annotation ‘From photographs about 1935’.
Restoration of Main Staircase and Hall Roof – PCM Pinwill Collection (PLMG.19184.108.40.206-10); date unknown
Immediately next to the parish church in Fowey lies Place House, a building first recorded in 1457 and reconstructed between 1813 and 1845 in an exuberant Romantic Gothic style (Beacham & Pevsner, 2014). The main staircase is decorated with ‘a riot of monsters and beasts... with serpents coiling around tree trunks, angular dolphins forming the balusters, and toads and crabs facing up to each other’ (Ibid. p. 203). The ten pieces of carving from Place House in Plymouth City Museum’s Pinwill collection are all Gothic in style and include a bracket labelled ‘Staircase’ and an acanthus leaf labelled ‘Hall Roof’. The presence of these carving in the collection does not necessarily mean that V. Pinwill was involved in any restoration work at Place House; she may have simply acquired the pieces elsewhere. However, given her association with Fowey through her Rashleigh ancestors and her work elsewhere in the area, it cannot be ruled out.
Restoration of Coat of Arms – Photograph (PWDRO 116/90 & 244/3) V. Pinwill carver; 1930s
The trapezoid-shaped, painted coat of arms from Looe Town Hall bears the date 1705 but what the restoration entailed is unclear. Ron Dustan worked on this piece, which dates it to the 1930s (Hedges, 2005).
Barham Memorial Tablet – Photograph (PWDRO 244/1) V. Pinwill carver; 1914-17
Dr Charles Foster Barham (died 1884) was President of the Royal Institution of Cornwall 1859-61. The tablet commemorating the opening of the Barham Memorial Wing of the Royal Cornwall Museum, built between 1914 and 1917 (Beacham & Pevsner, 2014), is not a small one; it measures approximately 7’ across and 10’ high (A. Broome, Librarian Archivist, pers. comm.). It is built into what was originally an external wall but owing to a modern extension, is now within a room next to the Library. The incised wording is ‘Barham Memorial Wing’ and above is a carved coat of arms with a crest which were presumably borne by Barham’s family. The tablet is bolted onto a magnificent carved granite surround.
Overmantel – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) no carver specified; 1893
This elaborate piece of work features three literary scenes with quotations, surrounded by trailing foliage and flowers. At the top is a coat of arms, although it is very indistinct and cannot be identified. The annotation implies that all three scenes are from Shakespeare but the largest and uppermost is from Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, beneath which runs the words ‘Her angels face as ye great eye of heaven shyned bright’. Below that is a woodland scene from As You Like It, with ‘What shall he have that kild the deere’ underneath. At the bottom, just above the fireplace, is a gathering of lords and knights from Pericles, with the quotation ‘To say you are welcome, were superfluous’. The item appears to be unfinished as several spaces for roundels are unfilled. A clue to its destination is given in a very short newspaper report of current work from the Pinwill studio. It mentions that a ‘handsome oak over-mantel, just been dispatched to Bath, included three large subjects from Shakesperian masterpieces’ (WMN, 1893b p. 5). We also learn that this work was from a design by Edmund Sedding. It is a wonderful piece and the finished mantel must have been a source of joy to its owner, who probably supplied the ideas and perhaps the quotations. Where and whether it survives in Bath is unknown.
Coat of Arms – Photograph (PWDRO 116/125) no carver specified; date unknown
This photograph of a Coat of Arms in PWDRO 116/125 is unlabelled but bears a motto in Latin ‘Obedientia Civium Urbis Felicitas’. A search on the internet revealed that the motto and the coat of arms belonged to the City of Dublin. There is no information about how or when this commission occurred.
Tampeons (4) – Photograph (PWDRO 116/99) R. Pinwill carver; possibly 1919
The photograph shows two each of two sizes of tampeon, all bearing a carving of a dove with a sprig of leaves. HMS Concord was built by Vickers Ltd, launched in 1916 and scrapped in 1935 (wikipedia.org HMS Concord). It was recommissioned at Devonport Dockyard in 1919 and this may have been when the tampeons were made.
Badges (2) – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) R. Pinwill carver; before 1914
These carved wooden badges are of hawks, facing one another. HMS Hawke was built at Chatham Dockyard, launched in 1891 and sunk by a U-boat in 1914 (wikipedia.org HMS Hawke).
Tampeon – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) R. Pinwill carver; probably 1910
The photograph shows a maquette for a tampeon, made of clay or plaster, which can also be seen in a photograph of the workshop taken in 1917 (PWDRO 244/5). It features a lion with forelegs on a rock and the motto ‘Concordant Nomine Facta’ (Our deeds agree with our name). HMS Lion was built in Devonport Dockyard, launched in 1910 and sold in 1924 (wikipedia.org HMS Lion).
Tampeon – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) R. Pinwill carver; before 1917
The photograph shows a maquette for a tampeon, made of clay or plaster, which can also be seen in a photograph of the workshop taken in 1917 (PWDRO 244/5). It features the arms of HMS Monarch, built in Elswick in 1911 (wikipedia.org HMS Monarch). The ship received moderate damage in December 1914 and was repaired at Devonport Dockyard in January 1915, finally being decommissioned in 1921.
Armorial Bearings – Photographs (PWDRO 116/100, 244/4 & 244/5) carver not specified; 1913
HMS New Zealand was a gift to the Empire by the Dominion of New Zealand. The Pinwill company was engaged to carve the armorial bearings of New Zealand to be fixed to the ship’s superstructure. This was a large and important commission, not least because it was in place in Portsmouth when the ship was inspected on 5 February 1913 by King George V, accompanied by Winston Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty (TT, 1913). There is a marvellous photograph in PWDRO 116/100 of the assembled Officers and visitors in front of the armorial bearings. A copy of this in the album presented to Hubert Minchinton is annotated ‘Carved in Teak’ (HMA). HMS New Zealand was built in Govan, launched in 1911 and sold in 1922 (wikipedia.org HMS New Zealand).
Tampeons (2) – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) carver not specified; probably 1913
Only one tampeon is shown in the photograph at PWDRO but as part of the reporting on the inspection of HMS New Zealand by the King, The Manchester Courier published a view of the two ‘big guns... which, it will be noticed, bear the Royal Crown and the letters ‘NZ’’ (MC, 1913 p. 11). These are the tampeons carved by V. Pinwill.
Tampeon – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) R. Pinwill carver; before 1916
The tampeon features the intertwined letters ‘MR’ surmounted by a crown. A maquette for this piece can be seen in a photograph of the workshop taken in 1917 (PWDRO 244/5). HMS Queen Mary was built in Jarrow, launched in 1912 and sunk at the Battle of Jutland in 1916 (wikipedia.org HMS Queen Mary).
Model of Deer – Photograph (PWDRO 116/101 & 244/5) V. Pinwill carver; before 1920
This carved model of a deer was produced for HMS Swiftsure, which was built in Elswick, launched in 1903 and sold for scrap in 1920 (wikipedia.org HMS Swiftsure).
Memorial Tablet – Newspaper article (WMN, 1921c) V. Pinwill carver; 1921
The Devonport Branch of the Royal Engineers’ Benevolent Fund honoured those of their members killed in WWI with a club-house in Alton Terrace, North Hill, Plymouth, in which was placed an oak tablet bearing a list of names. A newspaper report on the dedication of the building and the unveiling of the tablet, in which Miss Pinwill is named as the carver of the memorial, is the only evidence for this item.
Victoria Cross Tablet – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2) V. Pinwill carver; after 1918
This tablet, made sometime after WWI, lists men of the Hampshire Regiment who were awarded the Victoria Cross. The first four are those who fought with the 67th (South Hampshire) Regiment in the Second Opium War in China in 1860 and the three other men were engaged in Gallipoli, Passchendaele and Ypres in WWI.
Sporting Honours Tablet – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
The 2nd Battalion, Hampshire Regiment, commissioned this tablet that has seven columns for various sports and awards.
Roll of Honour – Photograph (PWDRO 116/119) Cowell, Drewitt & Wheatly, architects, R. Pinwill carver; 1923
This piece of work, an ornately carved wooden plinth inscribed with the words ‘Roll of Honour’ set on scrolled supports, was part of a memorial to those of the Queen Victoria’s Rifles who died in WWI. A newspaper article (YP, 1923) reports that Field Marshal Lord Grenfell unveiled at the Drill Hall, Berkeley Square, a memorial to 75 officers and 1,385 other ranks of this volunteer battalion. Their names were inscribed on marble tablets affixed to the east wall. The building in which the Drill Hall was situated was almost totally destroyed by bombing in 1940 (british-history.ac.uk).
In the archive at Goldsmiths College are a number of photographs of pieces of furniture made for members of the Pinwill family and in 2005 were in the ownership of Robert Sumner Ward, great nephew of Violet Pinwill. In addition, there are other items discussed with members of the family, who have described them.
Looking Glass Frame – Photograph (GC/PA) V. Pinwill carver; 1899
This is a beautifully carved piece of work, reminiscent of Grinling Gibbons in its design. It was made by Violet as a present for the marriage of her sister Bertha to Robert R. Conway in 1899. It measures 36” x 27” and is made of two pieces of oak. The letters ‘R’ and ‘B’ are either side at the top, while a ‘C’ joins the two halves together at the bottom.
Cupboards (2) – Photograph (GC/PA) V. Pinwill carver; early 1900s
These oak cupboards were made by Violet for the nursery of the children of her sister Bertha: Catherine, Alice and Constance, born 1902, 1904 and 1907 respectively. One cupboard is 60” high, 33” wide and 12” deep, and the other is 54” high, 38” wide and 12” deep. They are decorated with pieces of running ornament ‘left over’ from church screens, etc., some of which are undoubtedly ancient. The second of these cupboards also appears in a photograph of a large group of pieces of household furniture in PWDRO 116/123.
Seats (3) and Footstool – Photograph (GC/PA) V. Pinwill carver; probably early 1900s
This photograph shows three seats and a footstool in oak very much in a rustic style. Two of the seats also appear in a photograph of a large group of pieces of household furniture in PWDRO 116/123 that includes the cupboard mentioned above, which is dated to early 1900s by Robert Ward, great nephew of Violet Pinwill.
Cupboard – Photograph (GC/PA) V. Pinwill carver; 1921
This tall, much more plain, oak cupboard was made by Violet in memory of Constance Conway, youngest daughter of her sister Bertha, who died in 1921 of meningitis. It is inscribed ‘Constance Conway, 1907-1921’ and is 72” high, 33” wide and 13” deep.
Coat of Arms – Photograph (GC/PA) V. Pinwill carver; probably 1917 to 1927
Bertha’s husband Robert R. Conway was headmaster of Weymouth College between 1917 and 1927. This Coat of Arms of the College was probably carved in oak during that time.
Chest – Photograph (GC/PA) V. Pinwill carver; 1933
Bertha’s daughter Alice, who was also Violet’s god daughter, married Leonard Sumner Ward in 1933 and was given this oak chest by Violet as a wedding present. The picture on the front is of St Nicholas and it measures 39” wide, 18” deep and 25” wide.
Cupboard – Photograph (GC/PA) V. Pinwill carver; 1936
The door of this oak cupboard bears a low relief carving of the ship Hertzigan Cecile, wrecked off Start Point in April 1936 and witnessed by Violet Pinwill, who carved the picture soon afterwards. On the bottom panel of the cupboard are swimming fish that represent Davy Jones’ locker. The cupboard measures 44” high, 11” deep and 16” high.
Dressing Table – Photograph (GC/PA) V. Pinwill carver; 1938
Alice Ward’s son Robert was born in 1938 and Violet made this oak dressing table as a christening present. It is decorated with carvings of birds and rabbits and measures 54” high, 29” wide and 17” deep.
Plaque – Photograph (GC/PA) V. Pinwill carver; 1941
Violet made this oak plaque for her great nephew Robert Ward in 1941. It features low relief carvings of rugby players on one side and hurdlers on the other. On the back is written ‘From photographs about 1935 (carved at Plymouth)’. The design is very similar to panels of sporting events made for Plymouth Youth Committee. It measures 26” x 9”.
Box Stool – Photograph (GC/PA) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
This box stool has carvings on three sides: wolves (possibly foxes), an eagle, and, rather surprisingly, penguins and is now (2013) in the possession of C. Garnett, great niece (pers. comm.).
Bookcase – C. Garnett (great niece, pers. comm.) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
This piece features carvings of chameleons and is in the possession of C. Garnett, great niece.
There are quite a number of photographs in the albums at PWDRO that have minimal or no annotations. In some cases, the pieces have been identified but many remain a mystery. The list below includes a brief description and any other information that can be gleaned. No differentiation has been made between religious and secular pieces, as some could fall into either category.
Elephant’s Head – Photograph (PWDRO 116/101) no carver specified; possibly 1917
A photograph showing the head of an elephant wearing a collar is annotated ‘Model for bronze Part of Memorial to the Earl of Mt Ed’. This may refer to William Henry the 4th Earl of Edgcumbe who died in 1917 and was buried in the family vault at Maker church (WT, 1917). However, it has been confirmed that no such object appears on the memorial to him in the Edgcumbe chapel (Jack Asquith, Verger, Maker church, pers. comm.), so further investigation is needed to find the whereabouts of this piece.
Crucifixion – Photograph (PWDRO 116/112) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
A crucifixion quite similar to the ones made for Truro Diocesan Training College Chapel, Truro Cathedral and Mithian church, with ‘I.N.R.I.’ on a scroll above the head and the sign of benediction being made by the right hand. In other respects, such as the halo, it is significantly different.
Chest – Photograph (PWDRO 116/115) carver not specified; date unknown
With minimal carved work and large metal hinges and clasp, this chest may have been made for a church but could equally have served a secular purpose.
Running Ornaments (2), Candleholders (2) and Wreath – Photograph (PWDRO 116/117) carver not specified; probably 1952
While two items in this photograph, dated to 1952, have been accounted for, these pieces remain unidentified.
Churchwarden’s Staves (2), Candleholders (2), Altar Cross and Processional Cross – Photograph (PWDRO 116/117) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
A group of smaller items, none of which have been identified, probably made for several different churches. The staves could be those made for St Mary’s at Laira, Plymouth, which are datable to 1939 (WMN, 1939d).
Boxes (13), Candlesticks (2), Figure on Base and Ink Stand – Photograph (PWDRO 116/120) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
The annotation on this photograph says ‘Group of Turned Boxes’ and may represent experimental work on a lathe over a period of time. It includes other items, also turned, such as the base of a figure and candlesticks. Turning would have been a necessary skill to produce some of the pieces of secular and church furniture shown elsewhere.
Design and Examples of Modelling (2) – Photograph (PWDRO 116/121, 244/4 & 244/5) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
These items appear to have been entries in some sort of competition, for which Violet Pinwill received a silver medal. The low-relief design, depicting the nativity and the symbols of the four evangelists, has clasps on the right hand edge. It is shown on its own in PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5 and the latter is annotated ‘National Competition Silver Medal’ and ‘book cover’. The models are head and shoulders of a woman and a child.
Restoration of Chest – Photograph (PWDRO 116/122) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
A beautiful antique chest restored ‘for America’. It may be a parish chest or possibly a Welsh blanket box. Visible on the lid is an inscription but, frustratingly, the angle is too steep to decipher the words.
Household Furniture – Photograph (PWDRO 116/123) V. Pinwill carver; early 1900s
Thirteen items of household furniture, including cupboards, cabinets, tables and chairs. Many of the items are in a rustic style, featuring prominent tenons and pegs. Three pieces, a cupboard and two seats, are identifiable as ones given by Violet Pinwill to her niece (GC/PA) but none of the other items have been traced.
Panelling or Cupboard – Photograph (PWDRO 116/123) carver not specified; date unknown
It is impossible to tell whether this photograph is of a piece of panelling or the front of a cupboard but it is a highly carved piece of work, featuring two sailing ships.
Mirror and Stand – Photograph (PWDRO 116/123) R. Pinwill / V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
This is a beautifully produced piece of work, quite delicate in contrast to the more rustic furniture. There are two attributions, one to R. Pinwill and the other to V. Pinwill, the latter being in the form of a stylised signature impressed into the photograph.
Screen – Photograph (PWDRO 116/123) R. Pinwill / V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
A domestic, rather than a church screen, that features four hinged panels, each with a delicate foliate carving. Again, there are two attributions, one to R. Pinwill and the other to V. Pinwill, the latter being a signature impressed into the photograph.
Kitchen Dresser – Photograph (PWDRO 116/123) R. Pinwill / V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
A small amount of carving graces the lowest shelf on this Kitchen Dresser. There are two attributions, one to R. Pinwill and the other to V. Pinwill, the latter being in the form of a stylised signature impressed into the photograph.
Screen – Photograph (PWDRO 116/123) R. Pinwill / V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
A domestic screen made up of three hinged sections, with surface carvings of green men at the bottom and openwork carving of fruit and roses along the top. There are two attributions, one to R. Pinwill and the other to V. Pinwill, the latter being in the form of a stylised signature impressed into the photograph.
Tables (3), Cupboard and Figure of Child’s Head – Photograph (PWDRO 116/123) R. Pinwill / V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
The photograph shows two small tables and a taller one, with a cupboard, on which is a head and shoulders figure of what appears to be a child. The ‘R’ of R. Pinwill has been changed to a ‘V’.
Writing Bureau – Photograph (PWDRO 116/123) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
On the back of the photograph is written ‘In dark brown (natural) coloured oak, left plain to show fine graining of oak’.
Figure of Jester – Photograph (PWDRO 116/124) carver not specified; date unknown
Cupboard, Litany Desk and Bosses (4) – Photograph (PWDRO 244/1) R. Pinwill carver; date unknown
Whether the cupboard was intended for religious or secular purposes, it is grouped with a litany desk and four finely carved rectangular, rather than square, bosses.
Candleholder – Photograph (PWDRO 244/2) V. Pinwill carver; date unknown
This small candleholder appears to be entirely gilded.
Celtic Cross and Headstone – Photograph (PWDRO 244/3) carver not specified; 1926
Neither the whereabouts of the churchyard in which this cross and headstone are situated or the identity of the person for whom they were made have been identified. Only the name ‘Marjorie’ and the words ‘died April 9th 1926’ can be deciphered.
Reredos – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4) carver not specified; date unknown
The photograph of this reredos must have been taken in the yard of the workshop, with someone standing behind to hold it up, as their hand can be seen resting on the adjacent wall. It is a rather Baroque-looking reredos and may have been in the workshop for restoration, rather than construction.
Reredos or Panelling – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4) carver not specified; date unknown
The purpose of this item is unclear; it could be a rather plain reredos or decorated panelling.
Panel – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4) carver not specified; date unknown
This carved panel could be for the front of a lectern or a pulpit book rest. It features the Lamb of God in the centre and the symbols of the evangelists in the corners.
Altar or Monument – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4) R. Pinwill carver; date unknown
Four kneeling angels with outstretched wings adorn the corners of what could be either an altar or a monument. It is superbly carved from stone, with a card marked ‘Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co., St Lawrence Yard, Plymouth’.
Tracery Arch – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4) carver not specified; date unknown
The restoration work shown in this photograph appears to be in wood and is therefore probably from a screen. Confusingly, a small picture of a similar but different tracery arch is pasted on to the corner of the photograph.
Panel – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4) carver not specified; date unknown
The purpose of this finely carved panel of vine leaves and grapes is not known.
Figure of St Martin of Tours – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4); date unknown
St Martin of Tours is shown in bishop’s clothing throwing coins into the cap of a begger at his feet. This is an unusual characterisation of St Martin, who is more often depicted in Roman uniform riding a horse and cutting off part of his cloak to give to the begger. The photograph may well be of a piece mentioned in a newspaper report of an exhibition in June 1900 of wood carving, ancient and modern, held at the Royal Hotel, Plymouth, in which it states that ‘Captain Pinwill sends a very fine carving of St. Martin of Tours and the crippled beggar, supposed to have been taken from a French church during one of our wars’ (WMN, 1900 p. 4). This description would fit with the obvious antiquity of the piece. Captain W.S.C. Pinwill was Violet’s uncle, a brother of her father.
Altar Rails and Gate – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4) carver not specified; date unknown
These ornately carved altar rails include a gate composed of two arched and carved bars.
Chair – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4) carver not specified; date unknown
A Celtic cross and dove adorn this chair, probably destined for a sanctuary.
Credence Table – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4) carver not specified; date unknown
This table features carved brackets to the legs and a Celtic cross at the back.
Credence Table – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4) carver not specified; date unknown
The front bears a Celtic cross and inverted cresting.
Credence Table and Feet (2) – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4) carver not specified; date unknown
This rather plain table is photographed with carved bases or supports for some other object.
Sanctuary Roof – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4) carver not specified; date unknown
The subject of this photograph appears to be the sanctuary roof, which has numerous bosses and other carvings.
Front Rail – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4) carver not specified; date unknown
The only ornamentation on this item is a small piece of work on each of the supports. It is probably intended to be placed in front of benches.
Sanctuary Table – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4) carver not specified; date unknown
The carved work on this piece includes an ornate foliate panel on the front.
Frame – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4) carver not specified; date unknown
The carving in this oval mirror frame is of fruit, flowers and foliage.
Frame – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4) carver not specified; date unknown
On this rectangular frame for an oval picture, roundels of natural life in the corners are interspersed with Celtic knotwork.
Frame – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4) carver not specified; date unknown
This beautifully carved piece of work features shells, fish, crabs and seaweed.
Panel – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5) carver not specified; before 1926
The purpose of this panel is not known but it features deeply carved flowers, mostly daffodils, in a naturalistic style. Above the copy in 244/5 is written ‘Specimens fr Captain Pinwill Garden Trehane Cornwall’. This refers to Violet’s uncle William Stackhouse Church Pinwill, who lived at Trehane, near Probus, his mother’s ancestral home, and died in 1926.
Cornices – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4) R. Pinwill carver; date unknown
These appear in the same photograph as several pieces of the cornice from Poundstock screen. They are labelled ‘Specimens of Fumed Oak/Carved Cornices/(centre length waxed)’ and may not have been intended for use but perhaps photographed to show the effects of fumigating new oak to darken the colour, in contrast to the pieces for Poundstock, which are light in colour.
Boss – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; date unknown
There are not many bosses illustrated in the albums at PWDRO, although many must have been produced. This one, of a dove with wings outstretched, may have been for any number of projects, perhaps in a roof or on a screen.
Litany Desk – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; date unknown
This is a beautifully carved, striking item. The sides are topped with semi-kneeling angels, one with a thurible and the other praying. Among Pinwill angels, they are distinctive, in that they wear halos, and are very similar to the ones on riddel posts at Calstock, Cornwall.
Font Cover – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; date unknown
The photograph shows a font cover of a slightly unusual design for the Pinwill company.
Font Cover – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; date unknown
This is a rather indistinct photograph, although the cover seems to be rather ornate.
Borders and Cresting – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; date unknown
These pieces have not been identified as belonging to any particular work.
Panel – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; date unknown
This elaborate panel could be for the front of a lectern. It is beautifully designed and carved, with a border of vines around openwork with a central passion flower.
Aumbry – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; date unknown
Beneath a crocketed canopy is a hinged door, which suggests this item was designed as an aumbry.
Panel – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; date unknown
This is similar to another panel featuring daffodils that is found in both 244/4 and 244/5.
Griffin Head – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; date unknown
One of the more unusual items that may have military significance, as it is set within a crown. There is a roughness to some of the finish that suggests it is probably a model, rather than a finished piece.
Border – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; date unknown
Two short pieces of beautifully carved openwork; one, featuring birds, is from the reredos at Ermington, but the other, with a floral motif, remains unidentified.
Candle Holder – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; date unknown
The candle holder is one of three pieces in this photograph; the other items, a lectern and a riddel post, have been identified.
Figure of an Angel – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; date unknown
A rather sad-looking angel is playing a lyre. It appears as if it may be carved from stone.
Cradle – Photographs (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; date unknown
Chaytor (1990) describes an Elizabethan cradle on rockers made for an officer in the Royal Navy. This cradle is not on rockers, although it could be said to be in an Elizabethan style. On the back panel there is a crest and coat of arms, beneath which is the motto ‘Sola Nobilitas Vurtus’ (virtue alone ennobles). The bearings are those of the Hamilton family of Trebinshun House, Breconshire, but no connection with Plymouth has yet been established.
List of Winners Tablet – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5) carver not specified; after 1911
This rather grand tablet is carved with the words ‘The Governors’ Silver Medal’ and ‘List of Winners’ along the top and on the tablet itself is a list of dates (1896 to 1911) and names. Many of these names (WGB Shinner, BJ Lloyd-Evans, JL Roe, FS Stoyle and PW Condy) tie in with boys born in the Totnes/Torquay area (1901 and 1911 censuses), so the tablet may have been for a school in that vicinity.
Celtic Chair – Photograph (PWDRO 244/6) carver not specified; date unknown
Almost every surface of this chair has been carved with Celtic symbols, knotwork, birds and animals. Set into the back is a Celtic cross, which probably means the piece was intended as a sanctuary chair for a Cornish church. Interestingly, the photograph is mounted on card with the name of the photographer (Frank L. Waye of Plymouth) at the bottom, as if it was intended as a cabinet card.
Table and Chairs (3) – Photograph (PWDRO 244/6) V. Pinwill carver; probably early 1900s
Two of these chairs are quite small and were probably intended for children. All three items are in the rustic style of furniture that Violet Pinwill is known to have produced in the early 1900s for members of her family (GC/PA).