From ‘Lady Woodcarvers’ to Professionals: The Remarkable Pinwill Sisters

The Remarkable Pinwill Sisters

The lives and work of the Pinwill sisters is the subject of my forthcoming book, in which the full story is told. The front cover, showing a beautifully-carved praying angel from Plympton St Mary, Devon, is featured on the right. Watch this space for news of the book’s publication in March 2021.

The emergence of the Pinwill sisters as woodcarvers in the late nineteenth century was shaped by several factors, most importantly, the support and encouragement of their family, and the patronage of architect Edmund H. Sedding. Wider influences that allowed their work to flourish included the relative freedom given to women within the Arts & Crafts Movement and the drive to restore ancient churches guided by Anglo-Catholic sensibilities.

Over more than six decades, the company produced ecclesiastical carvings in both wood and stone for nearly 200 churches across Devon and Cornwall and further afield, many of which are described and illustrated. The narrative contains accounts of the trials encountered in withstanding two world wars and the Great Depression, as well as the need to adapt to changing architectural styles from Gothic Revival through to Modern.

Other publications about the Pinwill sisters

Helen Wilson, ‘The Emergence of the Pinwill Sisters’, Devon Buildings Group Newsletter, 34 (2016) pp. 59-67.

Helen M. Wilson, ‘The Architect Edmund H. Sedding and his Devon Churches’, Transactions of the Devonshire Association, 148 (2016) pp. 255-292.

Helen M. Wilson, ‘From ‘Lady Woodcarvers’ to Professionals: The Remarkable Pinwill Sisters’, Transactions of the Devonshire Association, 151 (2019) pp. 273-294.

Helen M. Wilson, ‘The Architect Edmund H. Sedding’ in P. Holden (ed.) What is unique about Cornish Buildings? Proceedings of the 2019 Cornish Buildings Group Conference (in press).