Ditchling, Guild of St. Joseph and St. Dominic
DITCHLING, GUILD OF ST. JOSEPH AND ST. DOMINIC
The Guild of St. Joseph and St. Dominic Ditchling was comprised of a group of professional artists and craftsmen who left London between 1912 and 1914 to start fresh in Ditchling, an Old World village ten miles north of Brighton, Sussex. They attempted to counteract what they considered the dehumanizing influence of industrialism. Led by the sculptor Eric Gill, who had become a Catholic earlier; the poet-handprinter Hilary Pepler, who was guided to Catholicism by Vincent mc nabb, OP; and the calligrapher Edward Johnston, who remained an Anglican and later withdrew from Ditchling. The community was organized under the rules of the Dominican Third Order and of the guild of craftsmen they had formulated. A farm was bought, and in one field a chapel, where the Dominican Little Office was sung daily, and workshops, where sculptor, woodcarver, weaver, carpenter, printer, silversmith, and others plied their crafts, were built. Each family remained independent and had its own house, but the craftsmen assisted each other in their work. Ideally they were to be self–sustaining and independent of the industrial world, but in effect they depended largely on selling their work to those who could afford hand–made goods. Their economic resources became confused, and in 1924, when Gill decided, against McNabb's advice, to depart for Wales with half the community, misunderstanding inevitably arose. A few years later, when Pepler partially mechanized St. Dominic's Press and took on a non–Catholic apprentice, he was expelled from the guild, though he remained on the Common and on friendly terms with the members.
At its height the guild's membership included David Jones, Desmond Chute, Valentine Kilbride, Dunstan Pruden, and Philip Hagreen—all well-known artists. Ditchling was visited by belloc, chesterton, and other leading Catholic thinkers who together with the members articulated the social principles of thomas aquinas, leo xiii, Maritain, and others, and made Ditchling an important center of Catholic social theory and practice for several decades. The guild was disbanded in 1989.
Bibliography: c. pepler, "H.D.C.P.," Catholic World 178 (March 1954) 445–450. h. d. c. pepler, The Hand Press (Ditchling 1953). The Aylesford Review (Spring 1965), h. d. c. pepler commemorative No., with articles by b. sewell et al.