The Beauty of a Tanner

One of our recent purchases has been an original etching by Robin Tanner of Kington Langley. We have mentioned him in our previous post ‘A Taste of What’s to Come’ with the hope that we could acquire some of his work for the Wiltshire & Swindon Local Studies Photograph and Print Collection… We struck it lucky!

This etching is entitled ‘Harvest Festival’ and is of a church interior (ref: P55366), although we cannot be certain it is a Wiltshire Church. However, what we can be certain of is that it was used in Robin and his wife Heather’s publication Wiltshire Village, first published in 1939 and which describes the customs and life of a typical village in the county and some of the characters within; a fascinating piece of social history. A reprinted version of the book is available at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre Local Studies Library, ref: AAA.910.

We have also managed to acquire one of Robin’s sketches for Chippenham Heritage Museum, similar to some of his etchings and a beautiful example of preparatory work, the beginning of a creative process. Both will be on show at the museum in spring 2016 when an exhibition will highlight his work and life.

Section from the Tanner etching dating c. 1939


Robin was not only a unique etcher; he was also influential in bringing art and creativity to the school curriculum and environment with his pioneering work at Ivy Lane School, Chippenham, in the 1930s and later as HM Inspector of schools. We are delighted to give examples of his work a home here at the History Centre and at Chippenham Heritage Museum to enable easier access to the creativity that touched the lives of so many local people.


5 thoughts on “The Beauty of a Tanner

  1. Information we’ve received regarding the print: ‘As I went to primary school in Kington Langley I knew Robin Tanner a little and his wife Heather slightly better. Robin never used a single location for his etchings. Harvest Festival is mostly based on the interior of Langley Burrell church but he also came to St James Draycot Cerne for harvest festival and did some preliminary sketches of the window displays. (Other parts of Draycot Church feature as Kington Borel in A Wiltshire Village). An amalgam of other village churches are probably also included in Harvest Festival. But rest assured – they are all in Wiltshire!’


    1. You’re very lucky, it is a beautiful book. We’re really pleased to be able to add one of Robin’s original etchings to our collection which up until now has only consisted of a rather worn greetings card!

      Liked by 1 person

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