Eric Gill lived at Piggotts, North Dean (4 miles north of High Wycombe) and is buried in the graveyard at Speen Baptist Church
22nd February 1882
17th November 1940
Eric Gill spent his childhood in Brighton, East Sussex, before moving with his family to Chichester in 1897 and attending Chichester Technical and Art School. He started training as an architect in London but later moved into calligraphy, letter cutting and masonry.
In 1904 he married Ethel Hestor Moore and moved in 1907 to Ditchling in Sussex which became the centre of an artists’ community, The Guild of St Joseph and St Dominic (founded with Hilary Peplar and Desmond Chute), and now the base for the Eric Gill Society. It was at Ditchling that he produced his first successful sculpture, Mother and Child (1912), followed by sculptures for Winchester Cathedral.
In 1924 he moved to Capel–y-ffin in Wales, where he set up a workshop and designed the Perpetua (1925) and Gill Sans (1927-30) typefaces (both still popular typefaces used daily in word processing).
Gill moved to Piggotts in 1928. Here he aimed to create a ‘cell of good living’ – a community centred on home and chapel, workshops, farm and a little school on the top of a Chiltern hill. Here he attracted followers: his apprentices, included David Kindersley, sculptor and engraver (and father of Peter Kindersley, co-founder of Dorling-Kindersley, the publishers); the Cribbs and Anthony Foster. Visiting friends included GK Chesterton, Stanley Spencer, David Jones and Peter Kapista.
Amongst the best known work Gill produced at Piggotts are the figures of Prospero and Ariel on the front façade of the BBC in London (1932); the vast ‘Creation of Adam’ sculpture at the League of Nations building in Geneva (1938); and the large-scale East Wind sculpture that hovers over St James's Underground station.
Eric Gill by Fiona MacCarthy, published by Faber & Faber 1989. ISBN 978-0571143023.
You can enjoy views of Piggotts from several public footpaths which pass close to it, but the house is in private ownership so please respect the privacy of the current owners.
In the adjacent Piggotts Wood, you may find a replica of a Gill crucifix nailed to one of the trees.
Some examples of Gill’s work that can be seen in the Chilterns:
St Peter and St Paul, Great Missenden. Brass plate (1935) in memory of Revd. Henry Badham 1925 to 1934 (Plate located near the glass screen).
Speen Baptist Church. Head and foot stones (1940) in memory of Eric Gill designed by Eric Gill and carved by his assistant Laurie Cribb.
Little Hampden Church. Portland headstone (1933) in memory of Mary Bernadette Nuttgens (a neighbour at Piggotts).
Our Lady in Beaconsfield cemetery, Beaconsfield . Headstone in memory of G K Chesterton (1937).