Joseph Cribb

1892 – 1967

Joseph Cribb was born and grew up in Hammersmith. His father counted William Morris and Emery Walker as his associates, and it was against this background that Cribb developed his own arts and crafts skills.

In 1906 Cribb was apprenticed to Eric Gill at his Hammersmith studio, joining the Gills in their move to Ditchling in 1907. Cribb was a skilled letter cutter and carver in his own right, gaining Gill’s absolute trust and confidence and working with him on many of his major commissions, such as the lettering on Oscar Wilde’s tomb. He also converted to Roman Catholicism with Gill in 1913, following him again into the Third Order of St Dominic in 1920.

Cribb’s apprenticeship ended in 1913 and he worked with Gill on the Stations of the Cross in Westminster  until he was called away for army service from 1916 – 1919. During the latter part of his service he joined the Directorate of Graves Registration and Enquiries and worked with MacDonald Gill (Eric Gill’s brother) on the design of the standard war grave, returned to Ditchling in 1919 and joined the Guild in 1920. His brother Lawrence (Laurie) also joined the community, and went with Gill to Wales as his assistant – Cribb remained in Ditchling and ran the stonemason’s workshop, taking on his own apprentices.

Cribb was a central figure in the Guild, fondly remembered by those who grew up on the Common, not least for his encouragement to visitors to his workshop to try their hand at carving. He is buried in St Margaret’s Church graveyard behind the museum.