Silversmithing

In all hammer work the hammer is held as near the end as is comfortable, the elbow generally well against the side, the blow being delivered from the wrist. Dunstan Pruden

Silversmithing was undertaken primarily by Dunstan Pruden who came to live and work in Ditchling in 1932. His stated aims of simplicity, purity of line, practicality and truth to materials had a major influence on silversmithing and goldsmithing in the 20th century.

Brought up in Hammersmith, Alfred Charles Pruden took the name Dunstan on his conversion to Catholicism. He attended the Central School of Arts & Crafts and then worked as an assistant to a London based goldsmith. Pruden was interested in Eric Gill’s writings and ideas. On meeting, both men realised they had much in common. Gill then recommended Pruden for his first major commission, an altar cross for Exeter College, Oxford. Other commissions included several gold chalices for The Vatican and the only 22ct gold chalice in the world for Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral.

In 1933, Pruden’s book Silversmithing, published by St Dominic’s Press, helped him secure a teaching position at Brighton Art College the following year. As with Ethel Mairet, not only was teaching a source of regular income but it was a means of sustaining the future of hand crafts with a new generation of young people.

His legacy today can be seen in his grandson’s workshop and gallery on Ditchling crossroads. They offer free guided tours of their workshops.