Ralph Nicholas Chubb

Ralph Nicholas Chubb – Image from Woodcuts, 1928

Ralph Nicholas Chubb was an English poet, printer and artist. Heavily influenced by Whitman, Blake, and the Romantics, his work was the creation of a highly intricate personal mythology, one that was anti-materialist and sexually revolutionary.

Ralph Nicholas Chubb – The Enchanted Valley, 1925

He was born in 1892, he was educated at St Albans School and won a scholarship to Selwyn College, Cambridge in 1910. After Cambridge he studied art at the London School of Art for a year in 1913, before becoming an officer in the First World War. He served with distinction, became a captain, but developed neurasthenia (shell shock), and he was invalided out in 1918.

Ralph Nicholas Chubb – Unfettered Joy, 1922

After the war in 1919 he studied art at the Slade School of Art under Henry Tonks. There he befriended Leon Underwood who had also served in the war and Chubb wrote poems of Underwood’s short lived magazine The Island.

Ralph Nicholas Chubb -Portrait of a Seated Female Nude (likely painted at the Slade School of Art)

Unable to support himself through his work he moved with his family to the village of Curridge, near Newbury in Berkshire. He set up his own printing press in 1921, making books of woodcuts and poetry, and then in 1924 became a part time art master at Bradfield College.

The printing press he used was made by his brother Lawrence out of an old carpenters bench, the typesetting was arranged by his sister Ethel. They must have been a remarkably understanding family of his rather amorous homosexual artworks and poems. To get around the horror of typesetting Ralph later used lithography to make his books, so he could hand-draw his script.

A page from Chubb’s The Secret Country – or tales of Vision, 1938-39.

Other themes run through all of Chubb’s work. He was forever haunted by the memory of a young chorister at St Albans who disappeared from Chubb’s life just as he had summoned up the courage to speak to him. Similarly, a brief sexual relationship with another boy when Ralph was 19 seemed to serve as a template for future visions of paradise. Chubb’s books become progressively more self-involved and paranoid. Seeking to articulate his pederastic desires, he created a personal mythology which explained everything in terms only he could understand. Nonetheless, Chubb’s work is of fascinating psychological significance; each of the various angels, knights, seers, and boy-gods in his dream world represents an aspect of his introspective and persecuted self.

Ralph Nicholas Chubb – The Bathers, 1924


  • MANHOOD: A POEM. Curridge 1924. 8vo. 200 copies. Printed by Chubb in metal types.
  • THE SACRIFICE OF YOUTH: A POEM. Curridge 1924. 8vo. 45 copies. Printed by Chubb in metal types.
  • A FABLE OF LOVE AND WAR: A ROMANTIC POEM. Curridge 1925. 8vo. 200 copies. Printed by Chubb in metal types.
  • THE CLOUD AND THE VOICE (A FRAGMENT). Newbury 1927. 8vo. 100 copies. Printed commercially for Chubb.
  • WOODCUTS. London, Andrew Block, 1928. 4to. 235 copies. Chubb’s only commercially published book.
  • THE BOOK OF GOD’S MADNESS. [Newbury 1929.] 100 copies. Printed commercially for Chubb.
  • AN APPENDIX. Newbury 1929. 4to. 50 copies. Mimeographed by Chubb. Not for sale.
  • SONGS OF MANKIND. Newbury 1930. 4to. 100 copies. Printed commercially for Chubb.
  • THE SUN SPIRIT: A VISIONARY PHANTASY. [Newbury 1931.] Folio. 30 copies. Lithographed by Chubb.
  • THE HEAVENLY CUPID: OR, THE TRUE PARADISE OF LOVES. [Newbury 1934.] Folio. 43 copies. Lithographed by Chubb.
  • SONGS PASTORAL AND PARADISAL. Brockweir: the Tintern Press, 1935. The first book printed on a private press owned by Vincent Stuart.
  • WATER-CHERUBS: A BOOK OF ORIGINAL DRAWINGS AND POETRY. [Newbury 1937.] Folio. 30 copies. Lithographed by Chubb.
  • THE SECRET COUNTRY: OR, TALES OF VISION. [Newbury 1939.] Folio. 37 copies. Lithographed by Chubb.
  • THE CHILD OF DAWN: OR, THE BOOK OF THE MANCHILD. Newbury [1948]. 4to. 30 copies. Lithographed by Chubb.
  • FLAMES OF SUNRISE: A BOOK OF THE MANCHILD CONCERNING THE REDEMPTION OF ALBION. Newbury [1954]. 4to. 25 copies. Lithographed by Chubb.
  • TREASURE TROVE: EARLY TALES AND ROMANCES WITH POEMS. Newbury [1957]. 4to. 21 copies. Lithographed by Chubb.
  • THE GOLDEN CITY WITH IDYLLS AND ALLEGORIES. Newbury [1961]. 4to. 18 copies. Lithographed by Chubb and posthumously published by his sister, Miss Muriel L. Chubb.

Frontispiece to Chubb’s – A Fable of Love & War, 1925

In the end

It is not often that people should think of their gravestones, but I did today, and in my ponderings I ended up contemplating many of the interesting ones, so here are a selection of artist headstones, many of the with beautiful typography, or I have singled out because, as in the case of Rothko, they are naff. The one above, of Alfred Wallis was designed by Bernard Leach. The one below is the Grave of Michael Arton with a bronze labyrinth on it.


Graveyard Pots

Here is an interesting artical from Ceramics Monthly, April, 1967 about traditional flower pots for American graveyards.

We had often heard the older potters in our area refer to the graveyard pots and markers their ancestors made, but though we had searched many old cemeteries in North and South Carolina, we could not find any surviving examples of this unique American tradition. When a neighbour told us recently that there were several graveyard pots in the older section of the cemetery where her family is buried, we dropped all work and drove to the graveyard.

It was one that we had visited before, but the pots had eluded us so well as several generation of passers by because the old section of the cemetery, some distance from the new, was quite grown- up in weeds and shrubs.

There, adorning forgotten graves dating from the 1830s to 1900, were more than thirty fine examples of traditional graveyard pots. None of these had escaped the ravages of time, for they were cracked and chipped, and some were badly broken. But the presence of hundreds of shards was a mute testament to the number of pots that once were there.

The urns, vases, and flower pots which had survived, however, were whole enough to have preserved their simple form and beauty. This section of South Carolina is rich in potting legend, but few examples by the dozen or more potters who kept shop up until the early 1900s have survived.

The fields are covered with shards, but only a few churns and pitchers remain to tell of the work of such men as Brown, Fullbright, Clayton, Belcher. Atkins. Williams, Van Patton and Johnson, all of whom had potteries within a ten-mile radius. Their community was called “Jugtown” (not to be confused with the well- known Jugtown, North Carolina). There is no way to tell now which of these potters made the surviving graveyard pots, for it was never the custom for the potters to sign their work, but the pots do represent the skills of at least a half-dozen different potters.

Only one badly-damaged grave marker (illustrated) has survived, but old-timers in the area remember when they were many. It was reportedly the custom for potters’ own graves, and those of their families, to be distinguished by such markers. These graveyard pots are a testament to the ability and imagination of nineteenth century American potters. The same potters who took extra time to make the painstaking decoration on these graveyard pots were content to make perfectly plain vessels for everyday use. The pots were often the only adornment for graves marked with a fieldstone or crudely-lettered tombstone. Since it was the custom, until recent years, for rural churches and families to take constant interest in the appearance of their graveyards, it is probable that the vases were often filled with fresh flowers.

John Piper in the East

There are many examples of the works of John Piper in the East of England. The works are not just paintings and prints, but also his stained glass commissions in various churches and university college chapels. Towards the end of his life he made a large suite of lithographs of he churches of the area.

Working on the Shell guides as a photographer and writer must have helped his understanding of historic features in the region and his photographs help fill up the volumes for Suffolk and Norfolk, though his photographs are more technical aid memoirs than artistic shots. I get the feeling he went out in his car and tried to catalogue as many interesting churches as he could.


 John Piper – Three Suffolk Towers, 1958 (Laxfield, Walberswick and Stoke-by-Nayland)


 John Piper – Gedney, Lincolnshire: a Tower in the Fens, 1964


 John Piper – Corton Church, Suffolk, 1971


 John Piper – Wymondham, Norfolk, 1971


 John Piper – Framlingham Castle, 1971


 John Piper – Stody Church, Norfolk, 1973


 John Piper – Buckden in a Storm, 1977


 John Piper – Holkham, Norfolk, 1976

Holkham Hall in Norfolk is the home of the Earls of Leicester and is a ‘Palladian’ mansion, built in the style of Italian architect Andrea Palladio (1508–1580), popular in Britain during the mid-seventeenth century to early eighteenth century. Piper had a keen interest in Georgian architecture, and with John Betjeman championed the rights of Georgian and Victorian buildings to be considered on their merits alongside older buildings. He painted a number of great houses of this era, and this print of Holkham’s gate is a good example of the romantic atmosphere with which he imbues such subjects.


 John Piper – Redenhall, Norfolk: the Tower, 1964


 John Piper – Binham Priory, Norfolk


 John Piper – Little Cressingham, Norfolk, 1983


 John Piper – Covehithe Church, 1983

Horham is one of the best John Piper prints in my view due to the layers of textures and that amazing colourful house to the side.


 John Piper – Horham, Suffolk, 1975


John Piper – Walsoken, Norfolk, 1985


 John Piper – Hautbois Church, Norfolk, 1983


 John Piper – Babingley Church, Norfolk, 1983

The church in Babraham is hidden down a lane off the side of the village close to the old Hall house. The church features a window designed by John Piper and made by Patrick Reyntiens (below).

The new east window was designed by John Piper. A 17th-century sculpture by John Bushnell is of two figures with carved drapery.


 John Piper – Babraham Church Window, 1966

When it comes to Aldeburgh church, it stands just above the town and contains a memorial to George Crabbe and a beautiful stained-glass window by John Piper as a memorial to his friend Benjamin Britten, depicting three parables.


John Piper – Benjamin Britten Memorial Window, Aldeburgh Church, 1980


I don’t know why I’d never thought of Tate and Lyle sugar, and the Tate gallery as being of the same origin. The Tate Gallery was founded by Henry Tate, the sugar merchant. Born in White Coppice, a hamlet near Chorley, Lancashire, he was the son of a Unitarian clergyman, When he was 13, he became a grocer’s apprentice in Liverpool. After a seven-year apprenticeship, he was able to set up his own shop. His business was successful, and grew to a chain of six stores by the time he was 35.
In 1859 Tate became a partner in John Wright & Co. sugar refinery, selling his grocery business in 1861. By 1869, he had gained complete control of the company, and renamed it as Henry Tate & Sons.

Thomas Benjamin Kennington – Orphans, 1885

In 1872, he purchased the patent from German Eugen Langen for making sugar cubes, and in the same year built a new refinery in Liverpool. In 1877 he opened a refinery at Silvertown, London, which remains in production. He built the Tate Institute opposite his Thames Refinery, with a bar and dance hall for the workers’ recreation.

Elizabeth Butler – The Remnants of an Army, 1879

Tate rapidly became a millionaire and donated generously to charity. Tate lived at the lavish Park Hill by Streatham Common, South London. Originally built by William Leaf and designed by John Buonarotti Papworth, the large house was the original home of Henry Tate’s work of contemporary paintings.

Park Hill, Streatham Common

In 1889 Tate donated his collection of sixty-five contemporary paintings to the government, on the condition that they be displayed in a suitable gallery, toward the construction of which he also donated £80,000. The National Gallery of British Art, nowadays known as Tate Britain, was opened on 21 July 1897, on the site of the old Millbank Prison.
Tate made many donations, often anonymously and always discreetly. He supported “alternative” and non-establishment causes. There was £10,000 for the library of Manchester College, founded in Manchester in 1786 as a dissenting academy to provide religious nonconformists with higher education.

John William Waterhouse – The Lady of Shalott, 1888

He also gave the College (which had retained its name during moves to York, London and finally Oxford), £5,000 to promote the ‘theory and art of preaching’. In addition he gave £20,000 to the (homoeopathic) Hahnemann Hospital in Liverpool in 1885. He particularly supported health and education with his money, giving £42,500 for Liverpool University, £3,500 for Bedford College for Women, and £5,000 for building a free library in Streatham. Additional provisions were made for libraries in Balham, South Lambeth, and Brixton. He also gave £8,000 to the Liverpool Royal Infirmary, and £5,000 to the Queen Victoria Jubilee Institute, which became the Queen’s Institute for District Nurses.

Tate was made a baronet on 27 June 1898. He had refused this title more than once until – after he had spent £150,000 to build the Millbank Gallery, endowed it with his personal collection, and presented it to the nation, he was told the Royal Family would be offended if he refused again.

John Everett Millais – Ophelia, 1851-2

He is buried in nearby West Norwood Cemetery, the gates of which are opposite a public library that he endowed. In 1921, after Tate’s death, Henry Tate & Sons merged with Abram Lyle & Sons to form Tate & Lyle.

Park Hill, Streatham Common, A mews of houses replacing the hothouses.

Fred Mizen

Fred Mizen was born in an Essex village, Great Samford in 1893. Little is known of his early life but it is known that he worked the various farms around the area of Great Bardfield, where he lived and died. It is said that he had been making corn dollies and other straw works since his childhood, where he had seen them made in the fields by other farm workers.

It is known that he served his country in World War One where he lost his left eye and a finger from his left hand. On his return he went gardening for people in the village and surrounding area, no doubt unable to continue with the rigours of farm labouring.

He continued making and selling his works during this time. Personal recollections from a number of people attest to this. In the 1940s, a Muriel Rose (The Little Gallery) was to have another corn dolly maker, a Sid Boatman, make a corn dolly to send to New Zealand for an exhibition of English rural crafts. When Fred heard of this, he took the sheaf of wheat and the next day the dolly was done, Muriel getting a lesson in the craft in the process.

Mizen’s work was also featured and promoted by proxy, in Life in an English Village, 1949, the King Penguin Book illustrated by Edward Bawden, where Mizens corn dollies where shown together in a black and white illustration and also referenced by Thomas Hennell in country crafts.

Edward Bawden – Corn Dollies from Life in an English Village, 1949

Mizen was also depicted in one of the illustrations from Life in an English Village with Aldridge in the Crown Pub, above him is the Corn dolly bell he made that is also illustrated above too.

John Aldridge, Sergeant Baker, the Landlord and Fred Mizen from Life in an English Village, 1949

The pieces that really brought him to the public eye were the Lion and Unicorn for the Pavilion of the same name at the South Bank site for the Festival of Britain 1951. The commision came in during 1950 and part of the publicity machine for the Festival of Britain, Pathe News made a film of his corn dollie work.

These magnificent beasts Mizen created stood seven feet tall. At the time Fred was gardening for John Aldridge, an artist in Great Bardfield. How the Lion and Unicorn came about is a little unclear, but it is highly likely that Aldridge and Edward Bawden were involved, both artists with many guests whom had his work in their homes.

Fred Mizen’s corn-dolly lion and unicorn, in R.D. Russell’s and Robert Goodden’s Lion and Unicorn Pavilion at the Festival of Britain.

The Lion and the Unicorn were fighting for the crown,
The lion beat the Unicorn all around the town.
Some gave them white bread, and some gave them brown,
Some gave them plum cake and sent them out of town.

They took six months to build and were varnished on completion. After the Festival had closed the Lion and Unicorn were sold to Selfridges in Oxford Street where they were displayed in the shop window before being put in the basement where mice ate them.

The publicity that resulted from the Festival led to something of a revival in interest in Straw plaiting, and a Bond Street retailer asked Fred to make some corn dollies for their Christmas stock. He worked hard and delivered his stock by hand. On being told that a cheque would be sent in due course, he took up the dollies and went into the street, selling them all to shoppers going about their Christmas shopping within half an hour.

Mizen also made a Barley Queen and the Malting Maid, commissioned by Lord Gretton, for the Brewers Society and after were used at Agricultural shows. It is likely John Aldridge painted their faces.

John Aldridge and Fred Mizen – Barley Queen and the Malting Maid

Some of his works can be seen in the Museum of Rural Life in Berkshire. These include an anchor, some 42 inches high, horseshoes, pitch forks, scythes and fire irons. The farm implements are life size.

Fred Mizen continued making straw works until his death on 19th October 1961. His legacy is the renewed interest in the craft and since then, many people have taken to teaching and writing about it.

Bernard Gay

Bernard Gay, was born at Exmouth, Devon on 11 April 1921, son of Ernest Garfield Gay and his wife Marguerite née Allen, who married at Newton Abbot, Devon in 1916. He grew up with a ‘baby farmer’ called Miss Wellaway an early type of foster family because his parents were poor and they sent him away. Miss Wellaway was an abusive woman who kept the children on bread and Margarine.

Bernard Gay – Plant Pot, 1955

When I was 16 and I eventually went home, I went to London to find my mother; I then discovered I had two sisters which I had never known about. One was two years younger than myself and was quite nice, and one was two years older who wasn’t very nice actually, though I mean I hardly knew them. I stayed there for about a year and a half and then I left, I went away and never went back. There was nothing to hold me there, there was no…no family feeling really.

Bernard left school at the age of 14 and after various jobs, just before the Second World War joined the merchant navy and travelled the world being introduced to art by Muriel Hannah in New York.

It was not until 1947 that he returned to education, when he studied textile part-time at the Willesden School of Art 1947-1952 and changed course to fine-art under Maurice de Sausmarez (1915-1969) and Eric Taylor (1909-1999) and began drawing classes at St Martins School of Art and quickly established himself as a painter.

While at Willesden School of Art Gay got involved with the drawing club:

Stanley Spencer came to do a criticism, and I remember him looking at an absolutely pathetically awful little painting and he turned to me and said you know, ‘Oh I do wish I could do something like that’. It was just ghastly. And I remember saying to him, ‘By the way, how do you do those huge paintings of yours?’ And he told …he painted in the kitchen, and he said, ‘What I do, I have the roll of canvas and I square up my drawings and I start from the top left-hand corner and I work my way across the canvas, rolling it up as I go, and when I get to the other end I finish the painting’. And, it meant that he never ever saw, those huge Crucifixions and things, he never saw the paintings until they were stretched and framed. He just started from the top left-hand corner and worked his way across. And I remembered him saying to me, ‘Of course, the real difficulty is that I have an oil heater in the kitchen, and quite often the tops of my canvases get rather black with the smoke from the heater.’ But I thought it was lovely that he worked in this strange way, from left to right, right across his canvas… Stanley Spencer came. William Coldstream came, Minton came, Colquhoun and MacBryde came, they all came to give crits of our little sketch club events, and they happened every month. And it was marvellous, one met in that little art school on top of the technical college… Edward Bawden came I remember. So that was a wonderful thing really, that that little school could do all that.

Gay worked in setting up the Lisle Street Gallery, building shelving for them and went on to work for the Artists International Association. He moved to Hampstead and became involved with the Hampstead Artists Council. Then went on to give lectures for the Design Council.

During this time Gay was exhibiting London’s top galleries: Gimpel Fils, Rowland Browse & Delbanco, Leicester, Redfern, Wildenstein and Piccadilly Gallery.

It was at this time that the Hertfordshire Collection of Pictures for Schools bought his painting of an Ivy Still life from the Pictures for Schools exhibition: 23 January – 14 February 1954. I acquired it when the Council sold off their art collection. The fact that he was chosen to be in the Pictures for Schools scheme so early means a great deal, as many of his contemporaries at the time were incredibly famous. 

Bernard Gay – Ivy, 1954

In 1957 Jack Beddington was asked by The Studio Magazine to write a book on Young Artists of Promise. Beddington was the Art Director at Shell from 1928 until the late 40s and also was instrumental in setting up the Lyons Lithograph series of prints due to his working with new and young artists. In Young Artists of Promise Beddington selected Bernard Gay for one of the books colour plates (most of the works were in black and white) and when the Studio Magazine promoted their book they used one of Gay’s pictures The Gate in the Hedegrow, 1955 on the cover of the magazine (It is also the same edition that features a report on the Great Bardfield open-house exhibitions).


A parallel career in arts education led him to become principal of the London College of Furniture and a member of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate. An artistic all-rounder, author of ‘Botticelli’ (1961), co-founded the Camden Arts Centre, where he was chairman for 25 years and joined the council of the British School in Rome.

He set up the Committee for Higher Education in Art and Design and in the early 1970s, helped expand art and design programmes in many of the polytechnics, that later became universities. In 1974, Bernard was living at Church Cottage, Cookley, near Halesworth, Suffolk and married secondly at Islington in 1984, Catherine Ann Wilson (1952-1995) and in the late 1980s, they moved to Herefordshire where he became a board director at Hereford College of Arts. He died, after a short illness, on 15 March 2010 being survived by four children.

Pictures for Sale

I have 66 Paintings for sale in Cambs Antiques Centre, Cambridge. If you can’t make it into the shop, I made the video and the website for you.

Here is the stock: https://inexpensiveprogress.com/for-sale/

Video: Marilyn Monroe – Life after death