Charles Tunnicliffe: The Importance of Wood Engraving

Charles Tunnicliffe: The Importance of Wood Engraving

Charles Tunnicliffe: The Importance of Wood Engraving

Tunnicliffe Notelet Set printed by Tilley Printing for Tinsmiths 2021

Set in the heart of Ledbury, Tilley Printing really does tell of the history of this charming market town. Established in 1875 and almost entirely unchanged since then, it is a place where magic happens. You only need open one of the many draws lining the walls to find the hundreds of teeniest tiny lettering type, still shiny from use; or rummage in the stacks of wood blocks to find engravings of hop growing, apples for cider, or intricate logos for local businesses and societies.

Tunnicliffe Notelet Set printed by Tilley Printing for Tinsmiths 2021 Tunnicliffe Notelet Set printed by Tilley Printing for Tinsmiths 2021

So, when a box of anonymous wood engravings found their way to Tilley’s they were greeted with joy and admiration as it was evident that the artist was really rather accomplished. After a little examining and research it was confirmed that the work was that of Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe. Naturally, with the kind permission from the Tunnicliffe estate, the blocks were put to their intended use and trialled on the Heidelberg Press. Martin Clark of Tilley Printing printed the first edition of Tilley’s Tunnicliffe Notelet Set for Tinsmiths, using eight of the “beautifully made” original wood engravings.

Martin Clark Tilley Printing Ledbury Heidelberg Letterpress

Martin Clark working the Heidelberg Press in her 40th year of service.

Charles Tunnicliffe is most well renowned for his naturalistic paintings and engravings of British birds in their natural settings, particularly those of the Isle of Anglesey on which Tunnicliffe settled and spent most of his working life. After attending Macclesfield School of Art, Tunnicliffe was awarded a scholarship to Royal College of Art, London. He mastered his work in a range of media: watercolour, etching and aquatint, oils, wood cut and wood engraving. He began to make quite a name for himself and his paintings and engravings were used to publish many Ladybird Books and Brooke Bond Tea Cards during the 1950’s and 60’s. Tunnicliffe also provided a set of wood engravings to illustrate Henry Williamson’s 1932 Tarka The Otter.

Wildlife in a Southern Country by Richard Jeffries

Wildlife in a Southern Country by Richard Jeffries illustrated by C.F. Tunnicliffe

From 1953 Tunnicliffe’s work became more focused as he was commissioned by the RSPB to illustrate a number of front covers for their magazine Bird Notes which later became Birds.

Tunnicliffe Notelet Set printed by Tilley Printing for Tinsmiths 2021

Wood Engraving is the fine art of working into close-grained wood, often boxwood or lemonwood or cherry, to create extremely fine lines using a Burin. One creates a relief print process in which the ink is applied directly to the wood and applied to damp paper at a relatively low pressure.

Tunnicliffe Notelet Set printed by Tilley Printing for Tinsmiths 2021

Original Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe wood engravings

Thomas Bewick set the pace for wood engraving today with his transformative approach. Using metal engraving tools (burin or graver) which he himself had adapted to produce the finest of lines, rather than knives or chisels previously used for woodcarving, and engraving into the wood’s end grain rather than the side of the block to create a much more durable and detailed image which could withstand thousands of prints without depreciation.

Tunnicliffe Notelet Set printed by Tilley Printing for Tinsmiths 2021

Wood engraving blocks could be used production printing presses which were going through great industrial changes during Tunnicliffe’s time; Tilleys saw considerable modernisation during the first half of the Twentieth century, including the replacement of the steam generator by electrical power. These monumental changes to production meant that thousands of illustrations could be printed alongside type to drive the upsurge in illustrated novels during the 19th century, much to Tunnicliffe’s delight.

Tilley Printworks, Ledbury

Tilley Printworks, Ledbury

There is a special place in the heart of Tinsmiths for objects and crafts with deep history and tradition. From favourite artists to past exhibitions and in the fabrics we hold, there is a strong celebration of wood engraving and the entire printing process. Clifford Webb, Gwen Raverat, Eric Ravillious, Edward Bawden, John Nash, Claire Leighton, William Morris, are amongst many names that helped light the path of engraving for current artists such as Ed Kluz, Angela Harding, Angie Lewin and many, many others.

Tunnicliffe Notelet Set

Tunnicliffe Notelet Set was printed with permission from The Charles Tunnicliffe Society with thanks

Tinsmiths ‘Ledburyshire’ Calendar July 2021: Hoarwithy

Tinsmiths ‘Ledburyshire’ Calendar July 2021: Hoarwithy

Tinsmiths 'Ledburyshire' Calendar July 2021: Hoarwithy

A Wood Engraving of the view from Symonds Yat Rock from Coming Down The Wye by Robert Gibbings. Engraving by the Author.

Set on the banks of the River Wye, the sleepy hamlet of Hoarwithy is another of Ledburyshire’s glories. Blink and you’ll miss it. Situated on the ‘Hereford side’ of the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the small village consists of a pub, a handful of Bed and Breakfasts, a riverside campsite and St Catherine’s Church.

Tinsmiths 'Ledburyshire' Calendar July 2021: Hoarwithy

The simple stone structure originally built in 1840 was redesigned when Reverend William Poole arrived in Hoarwithy in 1854 as the new vicar. Seemingly uninspired by the unembellished construction, Poole set about rebuilding the church. He employed architect J.P. Seddon and a whole host of craftsmen and materials from Italy and Europe. The Italianate vision was built around the existing chapel and is a unique testimony to Poole’s eccentricity; the interior is made up of a fabulous domed ceiling supported by pillars of French marble, wood carvings of British Saints, marble alter and entrancing stained glass windows.

Tinsmiths 'Ledburyshire' Calendar July 2021: Hoarwithy

Intricate flooring and carved Sandstone pillars

Tinsmiths 'Ledburyshire' Calendar July 2021: Hoarwithy

Just down from the church, a three story toll house sits at the side of the iron bridge which was built to replace the ferry crossing in 1876. The River Wye snakes away under Sellack Suspension Footbridge, down to Goodrich Castle and Symonds Yat and beyond to the English Welsh Border.

Tinsmiths 'Ledburyshire' Calendar July 2021: Hoarwithy

Tinsmiths 'Ledburyshire' Calendar July 2021: Hoarwithy

Sellack Suspension Bridge, a Victorian footbridge built to replace the ferry crossing.

July is the perfect month for walks along the riverbanks of the Wye, teeming with wildlife and glorious sunshine (we pray!) and wild swimmers, fishermen and canoeists come flocking in to spend the summer on the river.

Tinsmiths 'Ledburyshire' Calendar July 2021: Hoarwithy

Tinsmiths 'Ledburyshire' Calendar July 2021: Hoarwithy

It would be wrong to create a calendar celebrating the flora of rural Ledburyshire without mentioning the vegetable so plentiful in this county. An ode to the famers; during the summer months Herefordshire is a rolling bounty of rich scented hops, jewel-like berries and cherries, cider apples starting to swell and fields upon fields of swaying, purple potato flower.

Tinsmiths 'Ledburyshire' Calendar July 2021: Hoarwithy

Photographs by Tinsmiths

Tinsmiths ‘Ledburyshire’ Calendar June 2021: Hartpury Bee Shelter

Tinsmiths ‘Ledburyshire’ Calendar June 2021: Hartpury Bee Shelter

Tinsmiths Ledburyshire Calendar June 2021

As I fold back the page of May in my Tinsmiths Calendar, I am greeted with the rich honey-coloured inks of June’s joyful yellow page glowing back at me. My mind wanders back to a visit to Hartpury Church and Bee Shelter last year and its’ rich history enthrals me once again.

The Bee Shelter can be found at St Mary the Virgin Church at Hartpury, Gloucestershire situated at the back of the churchyard. The shelter is highly decorative and is, quite rightly, a listed building.

The shelter was built in the middle of the 19th Century by a local stonemason and made out of Cotswold Stone. It’s initial chapter somewhat hazy, the shelter was rediscovered in 1957 by the International Bee Research Association in the garden of Nailsworth Police Station. Members of the Gloucestershire Beekeeping Association dismantled the shelter and moved it to what are now the grounds of Hartpury Agricultural College. As the college expanded, the site became unsuitable for the protected building and it was considered at risk. Hartpury Heritage Trust stepped in and the Bee Shelter was resituated once more, this time for good, in the churchyard at Hartpury Church. Complete restoration ensued and the building was ‘reopened’ in 2002.

In its day the shelter could house at least 28 working skeps and would have been home to some 840,000 bees.

The use of wicker or straw skeps to keep Bees dates back to Anglo Saxon times and was only pushed out when the introduction of wooden bee hives came about in the 1850’s.

In this year’s ‘ Ledburyshire’ Calendar Anneliese Appleby has depicted the shelter and skeps with the church so wonderfully. The page of June comes alive in rich yellows, with honeybees busying themselves amongst the Ox-Eye Daisies.

Hartpury Bee Shelter is one of Gloucestershire’s hidden gems and really is worth a visit, especially in the warmer summer months when the trees are lush and full. There are fantastic footpaths around Hartpury which incorporate St Mary’s Church; a classic route is the Hartpury Circular Walk of about 6.5km and can be started at the church. Variations of this route can incorporate the Tithe Barn and Hartpury Mill and can lead you on to the track bed of the old Gloucester to Ledbury Railway.

Rehanging my calendar, I am uplifted at the thought of balmy June evenings spent in the cool meadow grass of my Dad’s garden with the hum of bees and insects around me.

Donations from the proceeds of Tinsmiths ‘Ledburyshire’ Calendar 2021 have been made to the following charities:

Ledbury Food Bank

Community Action Ledbury

Herefordshire Wildlife Trust

Tinsmiths Reopening, December 2020

Tinsmiths Reopening, December 2020

Tinsmiths shop reopening

Tinsmiths Shop windows shining determinedly through the temporary pause.

We are so, so pleased to be out the other side of a foggy, second lockdown and opening our doors once again. It has been such a pleasure to fill our new shop space in anticipation of the return of Tinsmiths customers, old and new. We, as always, have a bountiful selection of seasonal delights, one-off treats and our timeless Tinsmiths favourites. We are loving having shop front windows and dressing them has been such a delight. At the time of writing, they are showcasing a fantastic selection of Angela Harding prints, woven willow baskets, Tinsmiths 2021 calendar and the best ever Christmas wreaths and garlands.

Kitchenware tinmiths homeware utility cooking and dining

Cork trays! So many practical and environmental positives.

Ceramics tinsmiths homewares shop reopening

Cooking and Dining essentials on display with Tinsmiths Ceramics favourites and wonderfully cosy Fair isle jumpers.

Tinsmiths ruffle cushion homeware shop reopening

Ruffle cushions sitting pretty. Made up in our sewing rooms using Tinsmiths Ticking Fabric.

Card wall Tinsmiths stationery and gifts

Our Card Wall is back! A card suitable for any occasion or simply to stock up the card box!

 tinsmiths books homeware shop reopening

Our extensive range of books never ceases to fill us with intrigue, wanderlust or a desire to make.

utility tinsmiths bathroom homeware shop reopening

Utility at Tinsmiths. A cornerstone of good quality, functional items for the home with longevity.

We are still very much using the original Tinsmiths spaces and they continue to serve us heroically. Our fantastic former showroom has taken on the role of warehouse and oversees the packing of orders which continue to go out in great numbers everyday. Likewise, Little Tinsmiths is now used as the Sample Room and is home to the infamous sample draws. All our fabrics are available online and we offer fabric swatches and returnable samples so you can be sure you are happy that the fabric you choose is going to work for your projects.

Tinsmiths showroom shop reopening

Tinsmiths former Showroom.

tinsmiths natural fabrics

A snippet of our extensive range of natural fabrics. With something suitable for any project, big or small!

Both the shop and the town of Ledbury have been spruced up in anticipation so if you plan on visiting the area this month we think you’ll like what you see. With a variety of independent shops to choose from, there has been a real effort by the town and local businesses to create striking window displays and put up festive lights which, as the night draws in, really make the town sparkle. What better time to pay us a visit?
We would recommend making a day of it, not forgetting to include time to stop for lunch at the Malthouse Cafe or perhaps to pick up some delicious deli treats at Ceci Paolo to take home.

Ledbury Tinsmiths reopening

Ledbury Tinsmiths Reopening December

Ledbury church Tinsmiths reopening

Our current shop opening ours are Wednesday-Saturday 9:30am to 4:30pm. Our office is open Monday-Friday from 9am to 5pm. We look forward to seeing you and wish you all well, stay safe!



Tinsmiths Calendar 2021- Ledburyshire

Tinsmiths Calendar 2021- Ledburyshire

Tinsmiths Calendar 2021

It can often feel like time is always rushing forwards and we are constantly changing, adapting our ways and having to compromise. 2020 has given us all a little time and space to reflect, take a closer look at and appreciate our immediate surroundings.  Looking to next year, we have finally put together the calendar for 2021 – very much a celebration of the home of Tinsmiths and all that Ledburyshire has to offer. Working very closely as always with Martin Clark of Tilley Printing and Anneliese Appleby, who has in recent years become the calendar’s innovator. This year’s theme takes us on a journey to some of the fascinating and timeless buildings of Ledbury and Herefordshire, illustrated with seasonal and local flora relevant to each month. Something that is very important to Tinsmiths, Anneliese and to Martin is our connection with nature and the processes of slow crafts which have been captured beautifully throughout the calendar.

Ledbury Viaduct from Frith Wood

View from Frith Wood of Ledbury Viaduct, constructed of 5 million bricks and built in 1806.

Tinsmiths Showrrom

Tinsmiths Showroom

Tilley Printing, Ledbury

Tilley Printing, Ledbury. The working domain of the infamous Martin Clarke…absolutely worth a visit!

Anneliese has, in her signature style, transformed these special buildings into beautiful linocuts. Carefully sketching, rubbing out, moving the page and layering her tracing paper to create delightful yet accurate illustrations of the locations we have chosen; giving time for her ideas to evolve naturally as if fermenting! Putting her own twist and mark on each drawing with hidden creatures and plants that represent each passing month. The chosen plants hold relevance to their month and or location; February’s building is Stoke Edith House which was destroyed by fire in 1927. The house holds much history and intrigue despite its absence and has been paired in our calendar with the elusive Ghost Orchid, the rarest of all UK orchids, which was last spotted flowering in a secret Herefordshire location in 2010.

Printing process

The linocut of Poppies for Remembrance layered over the Alms Houses in Ledbury.

Bee Shelter at Hartpury

Mid-19th Century Bee Shelter at Hartpury Church, Gloucestershire made from local Cotswold Stone. The shelter was built to provide protection for the straw skeps used up to the 1930s and is one of the few Bee Shelters that remain from its’ day.

wicker skeps

Wicker Skeps

Tracing Paper

Working with tracing paper allows Anneliese to move and layer with type to perfect her early sketches.

Early sketches

Working drawings

It goes without saying that the part of the process in which colour is introduced is paramount when printing. Anneliese and Martin very much played during this part, looking for colours which represent each months’ place in its season, blending and mixing to realise their visions.

colour pots

Colour mixing before going on the press.


The Heidelberg Press in her 40th working year…performing tirelessly.

There are of course a number of fascinating and unique buildings within Ledbury itself; the 16th Century Painted Room, Ledbury Church at the end of a magical cobbled street and the timeless Market House in the heart of town. Although many of these feature in this year’s Calendar, we also chose to go further afield into the skirts of our lovely ‘Ledburyshire’.

St Catherine’s Church, Hoarwithy.

St Catherine’s Church, Hoarwithy.

St Catherine’s Church, Hoarwithy.

St Catherine’s Church, Hoarwithy. A real gem of rural Herefordshire.

Take time next year to let your wanderlust lead you to new and familiar places and explore what nature and history has to offer, wherever you are. We shall be dipping into our calendar at times throughout next year to further explore some of our favourite places, so do keep an eye out for our future blog posts.

Donations from the proceeds of Tinsmiths Calendar 2021 will be made to the following charities:

Ledbury Food Bank

Community Action Ledbury

Herefordshire Wildlife Trust