Eric and Macdonald Gill archive

Scope and Content

The archive consists of

  • Drawings & roughs by Macdonald & Eric Gill, including designs for greetings cards from the family
  • Photographs of Eric Gill's sculpture
  • Lecture notes, in manuscript & typescript

Administrative / Biographical History

Eric Gill was born in Brighton in 1882  where his father was Assistant Minister at the Countess of Huntingdon's Chapel, a non-conformist sect. The family, with 11 children, moved to Chichester when his father began to study for the Anglican ministry and Gill enrolled at the local art school. He was articled to the architect W.H.Caroe in London, was taught calligraphy at evening class by Edward Johnston and also learnt masonry skills.

He started executing lettering for Caroe's buildings and when a commission allowed him to leave, did so, taking up lettering full-time. He moved to a workshop in Hammersmith in 1905  where Hilary Pepler and Johnston were neighbours and he came into contact with the Arts and Crafts movement. He moved to Ditchling, East Sussex in 1907  with his family and set up a workshop with apprentice Joseph Cribb. In 1910  Gill began to carve figures in stone and in 1912  was included in Roger Fry's second Post-Impressionist Exhibition in London.

Gill moved away from Ditchling village to Hopkins Crank farmhouse in Ditchling Common in 1913 . Later that year he and his wife converted to Roman Catholicism.

Gill's major commission; a set of Stations of the Cross for Westminster Cathedral, was started in 1914  and judged of such importance that he was exempted from War Service until their completion in 1918 . The Guild of St Joseph and St Dominic was formed in 1920  by Gill, Hilary Pepler and Desmond Chute after they, and Gill's wife, were received as novices of the Third Order of St Dominic, so becoming lay members of the Order of Preachers. Gill moved to the remote hamlet of Capel y fin in 1924  where he worked for four years, then in 1929  moved to a large house Pigotts, near High Wycombe which became his home until his death in 1940 . During his life he was known as a typographer, book designer and illustrator, social campaigner and writer, as well as sculptor.

There is no biographical information about Macdonald Gill currently available to support this entry.


The archive material is arranged in the original order in which it was deposited at the CSC.

Conditions Governing Access

The archival material may be viewed by appointment only.


This entry was compiled by Becky Lyle, Submissions Officer for the project and by Jean Vacher, Collections Manager at the Crafts Study Centre. The biography was written by Frances Lord.

Other Finding Aids

There are no finding aids available for this archive.

Conditions Governing Use

The photocopying of archival material is not allowed. Written permission must be sought before any archival material is published.

Appraisal Information

None timetabled


None expected

Related Material

The Crafts Study Centre holds other material relating to the Eric and Macdonald Gill archive in the

  • Edward Johnston archive
  • Ethel Mairet archives

Also see access points


Holliday Peter (ed), Eric Gill in Ditchling, 4 essays Oak Knoll Press, Newcastle, Delaware, 2002

Eric Gill&the Guild of St Joseph & St Dominic Hove Museum&Art Gallery, 1991

McCarthy Fiona, Eric Gill Lund Humphries