Reprinted from “Industrial World” for November, 1934

Graceful and Animated Sculpture

Inimitable Carving in Wood and Stone


Photo of pulpit

Carved Oak Memorial Pulpit, Alnmouth Church, designed by Messrs. Hicks & Charlewood.  Executed by Ralph Hedley.

Photo of statuette of the Venerable Bede

Oak Statuette by Roger Hedley.

Amongst the inimitable work demanding both mind and imagination which English artists have produced, that branch of the fine arts which includes chiselling and modelling and the carving of wood and stone has reached a particularly high standard in the North-East. And some of the most beautiful sculpture of today is that executed by Messrs. Roger and Frederick Hedley, who control the business carried on in the name of Ralph Hedley, their father.  Ralph Hedley, who founded it in 1869, was the well-known painter who exhibited at the Royal Academy for 30 years.

Photo of chapel screen and reredos

Morning Chapel, St. Gabriel’s Church, Newcastle-on-Tyne.  Carved Oak Screen and Illuminated Reredos.  (Hicks & Charlewood, Architects.)

This business is situated at 52 St. Mary’s Place, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.  It has been entrusted with the carving of reredoses, pulpits, choir stalls, screens, etc., in most of the churches in the district, and this branch of work is a speciality. Carved fittings have been executed for St. Nicholas Cathedral, Newcastle; All Saints’ Church, Gosforth; St. Chad’s Church, Bensham; St. Oswald’s, West Hartlepool, and many other places throughout the country.  All work is of a particularly high order, displaying good taste, imagination and fine feeling, and it never fails to enhance the beauty of the edifice it adorns.  In consequence, a high reputation has been won and a considerable degree of fame has been achieved; it is nevertheless almost certain that this beautiful sculpture would become far more famous if it were only more widely known.

Photo of studio

A corner of the studio.  The bust on the mantelpiece is a portrait of the late Ralph Hedley, R.B.A., founder of the firm, by Roger Hedley.

Both wood and stone carving is undertaken, and the work produced is graceful and lovely; modelling for bronze, terra cotta and artificial stone work is also executed.  Mr. Roger Hedley is a sculptor of the highest order and he designs and executes figures in stone and bronze which represent the most pure simplicity and the most perfect animation.

Photo of bench

The wood-carvers’ bench.

The work of Mr. Frederick Hedley is also of great merit, and is particularly noteworthy for the excellent taste in which it is carried out, which is shown not only in the good construction and fair proportions of his work, but, more especially, in skilful balance and exquisite adornment and a finish which is always in harmony with its surroundings and in unison with their spirit.

Amongst the more notable work recently carried out may be mentioned the magnificent carved oak pulpits in Alnmouth, Tadcaster and New Seaham Churches, and the carved oak rood beam, pulpit, lectern, altar table and reredos of St. Gabriel’s Church, Nescastle-on-Tyne.  This carving has rendered the chancel of St. Gabriel’s exceedingly beautiful.  The reredos in the Morning Chapel in the same Church was also executed by Ralph Hedley, and the exquisitely beautiful oak screen to this chapel represents one of the finest examples of modern carving, ambodying all the most notable features we have mentioned above, which characterise Ralph Hedley’s work.

Photo of workshop

Fitting up benches.

Ornamental work of all kinds, the carving of organ cases, church seating, and so on, are undertaken.  Examples of Ralph Hedley’s work are to be found in South Africa at East London, Durban and Johannesburg and in India.  This sculpture well maintains the high standard of English fine arts, gratifying the eye not only by the care and accuracy with which it is executed, but also by its fine underlying feeling and elevated character.

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