I was born in Papua New Guinea, the oldest of seven children of the Revd. Jeremy and Mrs Clarissa Hummerstone, the vicar of Great Torrington.

I was educated at Blundell’s School; St David’s University College, Lampeter and Warwick University where I read English and Italian Literature.

How to Make a Stonemason

I trained to cut stone under Mr. Jim Donaldson in Northumberland, while he was working on his Swansong; a new church commissioned by Br. Harold S.S.F and dedicated to SS. Mary and Cuthbert at Shepherd’s Law, Near Alnwick.

I then worked at Hereford Cathedral carving Early English Mouldings for the Lady Chapel with Capps & Capps.

I spent ten years carving letters in slate in North Devon and have continued to do so in Wales.

Gabriel carving in his outdoor workshop - photo by C Baker

Inspiration

I am inspired by the eighteenth century gravestones and the unselfconsciousness & freshness of the vernacular lettering that I saw in the country churchyards where I grew up in North Devon.

They have a simplicity and an unselfconscious freshness that has endured and that is not to be found in later work.

I have been influenced by the incarnational work and approach of Eric Gill and inspired by the example and encouragement of Simon Verity and Bryant Fedden, who gave me my first and only lesson in letter carving.

More recently I have begun to study the work of John Baskerville, the eighteenth century Brummie manufacturer printer, typographer and gravestone carver.

To carve names in stone is to believe that they will be read and remembered while there are still people who can read: an implicit testimony of gratitude for the lives that have been given to us.

A good gravestone is a tribute to and a remembrance of the value of life itself.

My work continues a fine tradition of vernacular lettering and aims to create in Betjeman’s words: a stone as clear and as simple as the frontispiece of a book.

Gabriel Hummerstone in his workshop by Andrew Douglas Forbes
Gabriel in his workshop by Andrew Douglas Forbes