George Tinworth (1843-1913)

Image: ( “TINWORTH George of 8 Maze Road Kew Surrey died 10 September 1913 at Putney Railway Station Surrey Probate London 8 October to Thomas Tinworth picture frame maker.”

From Wikipedia:

“Born at 6 Milk Street, Walworth Common, South London, England, Tinworth was the son of a greengrocer turned wheelwright and the family suffered extreme poverty. Brought up to follow in his father’s footsteps, he spent his spare time carving off-cuts and soon showed a precocious talent for art. He had been impressed as a boy with so-called living statues who displayed themselves at fairs. He used to peek through the cracks of the tents. At home he began to “do the statues before the looking-glass.” (Chums boys’ annual, 1896, page 135). He started to carve butter stamps and a foreman plasterer in the next street suggested he went to art school to study anatomy. At nineteen he pawned his overcoat to pay for evening classes at the local Lambeth School of Art in Kennington Park Road. In Chums Boys Annual of 1896 Tinworth explained: “I had to keep the whole affair dark from my father. Indeed, I went to Lambeth School of Art of a night for months before he knew anything about it. He used to ask my mother where I was, but happily for me she always refused to gratify his curiosity.” (Chums, 1896).
Before he sold any work he made money by mending cart wheels. He also worked in a fireworks factory earning half a crown per week. From there he moved to a hot presser’s where for four shillings per week he worked from seven in the morning until nine at night.
In the same year that he began study at Lambeth he created ‘The Mocking of Christ’, (formerly) on show at the Cuming Museum on the Walworth Road, Southwark.
From the Lambeth School of Art (now the City and Guilds of London Art School) he went on to the Royal Academy Schools in 1864, winning various medals for his work.

The (former) Cuming Museum, Southwark, had three examples of his life-sized clay heads and a terracotta scene entitled The Jews making bricks under Egyptian Taskmasters. This last was presented to the museum by Doulton and Co in 1914 as a memorial to Tinworth; they seem not to have recognised that it could be interpreted as an allegory of the exploitation of his fellow clayworkers.
Many of his pieces were shown at the Royal Academy where they were admired by John Ruskin, amongst others. The first to be exhibited there, in the year he joined the school, was a group of children fighting called “Peace and Wrath in Low Life”. A large scale terracotta fountain, “The Fountain of Life”, was donated to Kennington Park by Henry Doulton in 1872 (or 1869?). This was vandalised in the 1980s and The Friends of the Park are seeking funding for its restoration…

(Mike Urban wrote at on 2.3.15): “Located in Kennington Park is what’s left of the Pilgrimage of Life fountain modelled by George Tinworth for Doulton, and designed by John Sparkes, head of the Lambeth School of Arts. Originally part of a fountain donated by Sir Henry Doulton in 1869, it was re-erected after being damaged by bombing in the Second World War. The PMSA site describes the piece: “On a square plinth, a squat round column supports a taller slimmer column, both plentifully decorated with fluting and delicate leafy and classical ornament.” Made of pale terracotta stamped with the famous mark of the Doulton Potteries in Lambeth, the fountain was once topped off by a sculptured family group of man, wife carrying baby, and child in mediaeval dress. Designed by G. Tinworth and representing “The Pilgrimage of Life,” the work was destroyed by vandalism in 1981, leaving the headless column that can now be seen by one of the park entrances on Kennington Park Road.”

…Other pieces by Tinworth are to be found in the Museum of Garden History in Lambeth; adjacent to the main entrance of St Bede’s College, Manchester; in the panel above the entrance to the former Doulton Works in Black Prince Road, Lambeth; the Baptist Chapel in Wraysbury; in Truro Cathedral, Cornwall; in St Mark’s Church in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent; and in St Mary’s Church in Burton, Wiltshire.
In 1870, Tinworth was commissioned to produce two stone friezes for the royal parish church at Sandringham, Norfolk. The works, entitled The Brazen Serpent and Descent from the Cross were later removed from the church and in 1930 were donated by The Royal Collection to St Gabriel’s Church, North Acton, following a national appeal for assistance in completing the church, after its construction costs exceeded the available funds. They remain on public display in Acton. (Church website: “Ernest Shearman, our church architect, had worked on the restoration of Sandringham from 1891 following a fire, and became friendly with Princess Alexandra and the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII).”)

The Cuming Museum had Tinworth’s major independent art project in storage. This is a 4-foot-high (1.2 m) model of a project for an elaborate memorial to Southwark’s connection with Shakespeare, made in 1904. Enough public donations were never achieved to realise it. Though this was Tinworth’s most ambitious autonomous art project, he also made a number of complex figure compositions in relief, including The Release of Barabas and Saul attacking David.
The Southwark Local Studies Archive has his manuscript (and unpublished) autobiography.
At York Minster, the reredos of St Stephen’s Chapel in terracotta is due to Tinworth. It was added in 1937.

After the Royal Academy he got a job with Doulton, the Lambeth stoneware manufacturer, Tinworth had previously been one of a group of students from the Lambeth School of Art who assisted its principal, John Sparkes in the making of a terracotta frieze for an extension to Doulton’s premises.
He began work at the Doulton factory making cases for water filters, but soon moved on to making the new range of salt-glazed stoneware that became known simply as “Doulton Ware”. About thirty examples of his work were shown at the 1867 Paris Exhibition. His father died in the same year, and he was left as the main supporter of his mother and family.

At Doulton, he produced vases, jugs, humorous figures and animals and larger pieces. Through his engagement with Doulton, Tinworth also designed an altarpiece, a pulpit and a font for St. Alban’s Anglican Church which was consecrated in 1887 in Copenhagen, Denmark. They were donations from the factory to the church and manufactured in terra cotta with salt glazed details to Tinworth ‘s design…


“…married Alice Digweed (1881); lived at Kew; died on a train between Kew and Lambeth (11 September 1913)

Full marriage details are: St Philip’s, Lambeth (Lambeth Council) St Philip’s church in Kennington Road, Kennington. A fund to build the church was begun in 1849 by the parishioners as a ‘thank-offering to Almighty God for their preservation from cholera’. The building was consecrated in 1863 and seated 600 people. It was twice bombed during World War II losing the spire, and was demolished in 1976.
8th Feb 1881
George Tinworth 37 bachelor sculptor 122 Wells St
Alice Digweed 25 spinster Tooting Common

Joshua Tinworth dec’d Wheelwright
William Digweed labourer

Charles Digweed
Ellen Digweed

by banns, Samuel G Short, curate

everyone signed

It’s all very strange. Alice’s age varies hugely between censuses and in 1911 she is described as feebleminded.

Ellen was her sister, and Thomas his brother.

“George Tinworth is survived by his wife whose ill health had cast a gloom over his closing years”

According to his sister in law, he hadn’t been feeling very well for some time. He was found collapsed on the train at Putney, and was dead before a doctor arrived…”

( “Tinworth was made an officer of the French and American Academies, and received many other medals and prizes. He died on Putney Railway Station whilst travelling from his home at 8 Maze Road, Kew, Surrey to his studio in Lambeth. There is a significant body of Tinworth’s work in the Victoria and Albert Museum.”

…Tinworth died in London on 11 September 1913 and was buried in his mother’s plot at West Norwood Cemetery. The monument on the tomb was one of many destroyed by the London Borough of Lambeth, who reused the grave for new burials in the 1980s. After a legal protest by a descendant, Lambeth placed a simple plaque commemorating the people buried in the plot.
His name is commemorated in Tinworth Street, Lambeth.”

EXCLUSIVE: What to do with Walworth’s historic Cuming Collection and former Town Hall?

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