We thought that the place in England that had the greatest vitality of thought and action in craftsmanship was probably the small village of Ditchling…just north of the Downs near the coast at Brighton.” – Bernard Leach in conversation with Shoji Hamada
It might be surprising that a village the size of Ditchling warrants a museum dedicated to the art and craft created by local artists. But Ditchling is no ordinary village. Throughout the 20th century it attracted artists and craft workers of national repute. This museum provides the opportunity to see the works in the place where they were made. Around the village, particularly in the church and the churchyard, there is more evidence of their work.
When Eric Gill arrived in 1907, he was not the first artist in the village, but the Catholic guild of artists and craft workers he co-founded with Hilary Pepler, Desmond Chute and Joseph Cribb was the magnet for many who followed subsequently. Two miles north of the village on Ditchling Common, the Guild of St Joseph and St Dominic built homes, a chapel, and workshops for silversmiths, stone carvers, carpenters, printers and weavers. The Guild ran from 1920 to 1989. In the village other important artists worked including Edward Johnston, Rowland Emett, Ethel Mairet, Frank Brangwyn and Charles Knight, while distinguished illustrators Raymond Briggs and John Vernon Lord work in the village now. With easy access to London, stunning countryside and a popular art school in Brighton, Ditchling’s historic and contemporary appeal is easy to see.
Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft has a frequently changing programme of exhibitions and displays alongside a growing permanent collection. As an independent charitable trust the museum relies on donations and grants to mount these displays, protect the collection, and deliver an engaging learning programme. Every penny spent in the museum helps us deliver these objectives.