Hammersmith exhibition to display ‘holy grail’ of the Arts & Crafts movement

A celebration of one of the most admired – yet elusive – typefaces in history is set to open at Emery Walker’s House in Hammersmith on Saturday 2 March.

Mudlark Jason Sandy (left) donating Doves Type to Emery Walker's House curator Mallory Horrill (right)
Image credit
Lucinda MacPherson

A celebration of one of the most admired – yet elusive – typefaces in history is set to open in Hammersmith.

The last time a full set of Doves Type was assembled was more than a century ago, after the original hand-made letters were thrown off Hammersmith Bridge following a row between its impetuous creators.

Now Emery Walker’s House on the riverside is to display the full set of type after painstaking work by mudlarkers along the banks of the Thames.

The exhibition – Mudlarking: Unearthing London’s Past – opens on 2 March and runs until 27 April at what is now an Arts & Crafts museum at 7 Hammersmith Terrace.

From left to right: Doves Type as used to print The Doves Bible, engraver Emery Walker and bookbinder TJ Cobden-Sanderson

Doves Press

The Doves Press was a private printing press, jointly founded at the start of the 20th Century by engraver Emery Walker and bookbinder TJ Cobden-Sanderson, who lived at the address at different times. Cobden-Sanderson is often credited with coining the term ‘Arts & Crafts’.

A full set of Doves Type – regarded as the most influential Arts & Crafts typeface and was used to print The Doves Bible, among other books – has never before been exhibited anywhere in the world.

That’s because Cobden-Sanderson threw the set of metal letters into the river during an estimated 170 clandestine nighttime trips to Hammersmith Bridge following a major falling-out between him and Walker.

The eccentric bookbinder later described his actions as a ‘consecration’, so obsessed had he become with the beauty of the type. Ever since, it’s been regarded as one of the ‘holy grails’ of the Arts & Crafts movement.

Individual letters of the old type have been recovered down the years by mudlarkers exploring the river’s margins at low tide, and now a full set has been assembled; the star exhibit in the show which includes other treasures such as fossils, prehistoric flint tools, Roman coins, pottery, Tudor fashion accessories, children's toys and Victorian curiosities.


The show is curated by Jason Sandy of Thames Mudlarks, who lives in Chiswick and has written books about his explorations.

A programme of events to support the exhibition includes walking tours, guided mudlarking experiences, a scavenger hunt and candlelit visits. You can book here.

While mudlarking under Hammersmith Bridge, Sandy discovered 12 pieces of Doves Type which he donated to Emery Walker’s House in 2020.

Robert Green and Lukasz Orlinski have also loaned hundreds of recovered pieces of the original alphabet, used to create some of the most collectible (and valuable) books of their day.

Emery Walker’s House is located at 7 Hammersmith Terrace.

Doves Type in a presentation box donated to Emery Walker's House in 2020
The dining room at Emery Walker's House
Image credit
Lucinda MacPherson

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