Valentine KilBride

1897 – 1982

Valentine KilBride was born in Bradford and began work in his family’s industrial dyeworks. After serving in World War I he became interested in the current craft revival, and in particular hand weaving and natural dyeing.

Inspired by Ethel Mairet’s book Vegetable Dyes, he applied to be her apprentice and in 1922 joined her workshop in Ditchling. Here he made friends with fellow apprentice, Petra Gill, and was soon visiting the Gill and Pepler families on a regular basis.

In 1924 KilBride visited Eric Gill and was invited to join the Guild of St Joseph and St Dominic. This prompted a move to Ditchling Common in 1925 where he set up his own weaving and dyeing workshop. Joined by Bernard Brocklehurst in 1927, the workshop specialised in silk weaving and vestment making, becoming known for the simple beauty of their Gothic-style vestments in contrast to the more elaborate vestments that were in use at that time.

KilBride was a key member of the Guild of St Joseph & St Dominic and integral to the development of its ideology, as well as its day-to-day organisation. His daughter, Jenny KilBride became the first female member of the Guild in the 1950s and continues to weave and work with natural dyes in Ditchling. She was also instrumental in developing the museum in the build-up to its re-opening in 2013.