Violet Pinwill

Violet Pinwill

Violet Pinwill was a major force in woodcarving in Victorian Devon. Based in Ermington, and then Plymouth, she and her sisters, carried out work across Devon and also deep into Cornwall. Her success is all the more remarkable given the status of women in Victorian society, as well as the fact that she was located somewhat remotely away from the Diocese of Exeter, which was based in Exeter.

St Peter & St Paul, Ermington is fortunate to have a body of Violet Pinwill’s work, stretching across the whole of her working life. Born in 1874, her first woodcarving in the church dates back to 1890 when she was just 17 years old. Her final piece of woodcarving in the church is the Second World War memorial plaque, after 1945, carved when she was 71 years old.

She was widely known in the Westcountry. According to her obituary in the Times, 1957, there are over 300 churches in Devon and Cornwall with examples of her work, even after accounting for the loss of much of her work in Plymouth, which was destroyed during the bombing of the early 1940s. As well as new commissions, she also undertook restoration of ancient woodwork. Additionally, she was also greatly in demand for carving regimental and ship’s coat of arms.

There is a growing interest in the work of this remarkable woman for her exception woodcarving skills. Please come along to St Peter & St Paul, Ermington to view her carvings. There is probably no better place to see the full range of her work.

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Credit: Grant Elliott

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