Bespoke Guild Mark Holder

Living Water

Name of Designer:

Victoria Walpole
BGM Number


Date of Award


Makers’ Name

Victoria Walpole


‘Living Water’ was a true labour of love, taking countless hours to make. The marquetry has been cut by hand, with shading achieved by burning the veneers in hot sand. All hardwoods have been very sustainably salvaged from scrap. The carvings, and every single pebble, have been patiently fine sanded between layers of polyurethane varnish. The resulting finish produces irresistibly tactile surfaces, and brings out the stunning vibrant natural colours and contrasts between the profusion of hardwoods. ‘Living Water’ is a showcase for the incredible natural beauty of wood.

The Saxon font is Coleshill Church’s greatest treasure and most famous feature. Innovatively dropping the bulk of the cover down into the font ensures the new installation does not detract from the beautiful ancient stone work, additionally creating an element of surprise.

The design is inspired by the river baptism of Jesus. The complexity of forms, based on local nature, aims to encourage contemplation. Every element relates to scripture but ‘Living Water’ can be equally enjoyed by anyone with little or no knowledge of the bible. Children especially love to look ‘into the pond’ and I am told that visitors to the church are often seen attempting to brush away the finely carved dead leaves! These represent sins being washed away by baptism.


As a girl at school in the 1980’s, I put up quite a battle to take Craft Design Technology, ‘the boys subject’, at ‘O’ level. After becoming, I was told, the first woman to achieve a BA First Class honours degree in Industrial Design, I spent an exciting 6 years designing toys in Hong Kong. As senior lecturer in Industrial Design, I brought sustainable design to the forefront of the Contemporary Influences on Design module at Northumbria University. Years later, an evening City and Guilds in carpentry and joinery reminded me that what I had always really loved to do was work wood with my hands. I was incredibly fortunate to undertake a traditional cabinet making apprenticeship under esteemed master cabinet maker Mr. Stephen Robinson-Gay. 17 years later I am still learning and developing skills in the same workshop. Self-employment has allowed me artistic freedom and enabled me to pursue my interest in ecclesiastical work. Now a single mother, I have had to work, since lock down, as a ‘handywoman’ to support my wonderful daughter and myself. I am delighted to have been awarded a Bespoke Guild Mark and hope this may help me to achieve my dream of a cathedral scale commission.