Page 21 - April 2014
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An Eric Gill Discovery                                           Ron Prosser (9405)

FRED HANDO was a well-known arƟst in              back to Capel-y-Ffin”, he used to say and who

the Newport area who for many years in the would challenge him?

1940’s-60’s wrote and illustrated arƟcles on in- In 1928, in typical Gill fashion, he hired two
teresƟng local places he had visited for the local railway trucks and three pantechnicons and
South Wales Argus. The company I came to New- departed for PigoƩs at Speen near High
port to work for as manager in 1968 published Wycombe. However, in 1930 he bought the
many of these arƟcles in a series of full-bound monastery for his eldest daughter who lived
books which sold extremely well. I met Fred, a there unƟl 1956.
reƟred headmaster and a real gentleman, on a

few occasions before he died in 1970.

It was with surprise recently when his nephew
approached me asking if our print training
project would be interested in producing a
book on the life of his uncle including many
illustraƟons from his books. Naturally I was
delighted to be asked and the book has
reached proof stage and should be available
in April.

I have a few of Fred’s books in my library and

I have been indulging myself by re-reading

them and what a delight they are proving

to be for I am discovering a number of

interesƟng facts that I didn’t know about. For Mr. Hando records in his book ‘Here and There

example I certainly had no knowledge that Eric in Monmouthshire’ that he visited the chapel

Gill had lived in Capel-y-Ffin monastery on the and “spent an engrossing half-hour among the

edge of the Brecon Beacons from 1924 to 1928. tombstones. Roaming amid the quaint relics, I

He, with his family and three other families,     was suddenly halted by the leƩering on two

thirteen people in total, plus a pony, chickens, modern stones. Such perfecƟon of shape and
cats, dogs, goats, geese, ducks, magpies and spacing proclaimed that Eric Gill had cut the
luggage had arrived in a hired lorry in a typical inscripƟons, and I was not surprised to hear
Welsh cloudburst expecƟng to find a building fit that our great sculptor, while at Capel-y-Ffin
for habitaƟon but instead found almost a ruin, monastery, had employed Charlie Stones
but they persevered and with immense energy as his handyman, and on his death had cut
                                                  the inscripƟon, which I have copied.” It is
became quite a self-contained community.
                                                  reproduced in his book and also here.

 It was whilst at Capel-y-Ffin that he devised     It was a delight to discover all this and I have
 his world-famous typefaces, Gill Sans Serif and  resolved that I will soon pay a visit to this
 Perpetua. With his people he took long walks     remote but lovely area and see the work of our
 in this enchanted land around the monastery.     great type designer for myself.
“One of the loveliest things in the world is to

walk from Rhiw Wen at the top of the valley

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