Walter Hoyle

Walter Hoyle is in danger of being one of the forgotten Great Bardfield artists due to the lack of information on him.

Hoyle was born in Rishton, Lancashire in July 1922. Hoyle’s artistic
education started at the Beckenham School of Art in 1938,

I persuaded my local art school to accept me, and presented as evidence of my serious intent, a series of drawings much influenced by Walt Disney. †

From Beckenham, Hoyle gained a place at as a student at the Royal College
of Art from 1940-42 and again from 1947-48 after serving in the
Second World War. During Hoyle’s time at the RCA one of his tutors was
Edward Bawden, who encouraged him to develop watercolours and


 Walter Hoyle at home in Great Bardfield, NPG, taken by Geoffrey Ireland.

It was 1940, the phoney war was to about to end and the college was evacuated from London to Ambleside in the Lake District, famous for poets rather than artists. It was here that I was first introduced to printmaking – lithography – by a friend called Thistlethwaite, a fellow student from Oswaldtwistle (although these names are true, I mention them only because I like the sound they make). He prepared a litho stone for me with a beautiful finely ground surface and instructed me how to draw in line and wash. 

In 1948, During the RCA Diploma show, a visitor was so impressed by Hoyle’s work that he was offered seven months’ work in the Byzantine Institute in Istanbul, Hoyle accepted, the work he saw there made a strong impression. Italian art and architecture also influenced him at that time.


 Walter Hoyle – Church Moon, Little Samford (In My Collection) ,1957.

Early in 1951 when Bawden was commissioned by the Festival of Britain to produce a mural for the Lion and Unicorn Pavilion on the South Bank,
it was Hoyle that he chose to assist him on account of his great talent. During that summer Bawden invited Hoyle on a holiday to Sicily.

Edward asked to see my watercolours. He looked very carefully and quizzed me about them, and in general was complimentary and encouraging. I felt I had passed some kind of ‘examination. ♠

It was this holiday together that Hoyle would scribe into a limited edition booklet of 10 in 1990 and into a book in 1998 – “To Sicily with Edward Bawden” a limited edition of 350 copies with a forward by Olive Cook.


 Walter Hoyle – Hill town in Sicily, ex Cambridge City Council, 1951.

In 1952 Hoyle took over the painting of another mural, the dome of St Mary Abchurch, London. The church had been blitzed in September 1940,
and the original mural was being restored by E. W. Tristan, but when Tristan died, Hoyle completed the work. ‡


 Walter Hoyle – The cover for the Great Bardfield Exhibition booklet.

The move to Great Bardfield:
Hoyle moved first to Great Bardfield in 1952, living for a time in a farm cottage on the outskirts of Bardfield near Great Lodge Farm. He lived and worked in the Great Bardfield area for twenty-two years and exhibited with the Bardfield artists in 1954, 1955 and 1956 when they would open their houses to the public for one weekend a year, rather than relying on London galleries. Hoyle met his wife, the ceramists and poster designer
Denise Hoyle at at one of the Great Bardfield “open house” exhibitions in 1956, when his work was on show at George Chapman’s house.

It may have been Edward Bawden’s painting classes and lectures at Brick House, or being in the hilly Essex countryside but it around this time that Hoyle became interested in English romantic painting: the work of Turner, Blake and Palmer and also in French art. Like other members of Great Bardfield, Hoyle designed for interiors with wallpapers and fabrics for Coles, Sandersons and the Wallpaper Manufacturers Limited.

One of Hoyle’s most popular works for book illustration came with a commission for the Folio Society in 1968 with Shirley by Charlotte Bronte.


 Walter Hoyle Design for Sandersons

Walter Hoyle has taught at various art schools: St. Martin’s, London, 1951-60; the Central School of Art, London, 1960-64; and the Cambridge School of Art, 1964-85.

Walter Hoyle left Great Bardfield and moved to Bottisham, Cambridgeshire, to teach at the Cambridge School of Art in their printmaking department. While at Cambridge, he launched the Cambridge Print Editions, publishers of the magazine of the Cambridge School of Art, “Private View” co-edited by Warwick Hutton, which he started and which included interesting extracts from the work of famous artists and writers such as Patrick Heron and Edward Ardizzone, as well as articles by
students and graduates of the school.

Hoyle took over the collection of ‘Original Works for Children in Cambridgeshire’, an art project for City of Cambridge Committee for Education. Hoyle donated a picture and convinced other artists to give works to the project too. He retired from teaching in 1985 to move to Hastings and Dieppe. Hoyle died in 2000.

 Walter Hoyle – Great Lodge Farm, 1952 (In My Collection)

Exhibitions and Collections:
Hoyle exhibited internationally working outside of the Bardfield set. Exhibitions were not only at the Byzantine Institute Gallery in Paris in 1950, but in 1952 he showed at the Leicester Galleries, London. He was featured in many mixed exhibitions in London and the provinces, including the Royal Academy summer exhibitions and Kettles Yard, Cambridge (1972). Walter Hoyle is represented in many public and private collections, among them the Bibliothéque Nationale, Paris, the Victoria and Albert and the British Museums, the Tate Gallery, the Walker Art Gallery, the Whitworth Art Gallery, the Fitzwilliam Museum, the Sheffield Art Gallery, the Manchester City Art Gallery, Editions Alecto Gallery, London, and the Palace of Westminster and the Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden.

He painted murals for the Natural History Museum, for the Jamestown Festival, USA, and for the Sealink ship “St. David”.

Editions of his prints have been commissioned by Editions Alecto, Christie’s Contemporary Art, Neve International, the British Oxygen Company, the Folio Society and St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge.


 Walter Hoyle – St Catherine’s with Acanthus, (In My Collection), 1966

Printmaking Today, Volume 7, 1998. page 9-10.
To Sicily with Edward Bawden, Previous Parrot Press, 1998.
The  Great Bardfield  Exhibition  by  Gerald  Marks,  Realism,  August  —
September  1955

Walter Hoyle’s Letter to the editor.

From Private View: The Journal from the Cambridge School of Art. Spring 1986.


Walter Hoyle – Dieppe Harbour, 1986

I thought this letter was so colourful and a rare insight into the world of Walter Hoyle. Sadly little is known online of Hoyle as books are yet to be penned. But this is a rather funny view on his last days at the Cambridge School of Art and Hoyle’s quest for a coast house.

First a brief biography of Walter Hoyle. Painter and printmaker, Hoyle was born in Lancashire. He studied at Beckenham School of Art from 1938 alongside Bernard Cheese, then moved on to the Royal College of Art in 1940. There he was mentored and educated under Edward Bawden, they became close friends and Hoyle later moved to Great Bardfield to live and work alongside Bawden. Hoyle wrote a book called ‘To Sicily with Edward Bawden’ with Olive Cook and also illustrated editions for the Folio Society. After moving to Bottisham, Cambridgeshire, he taught at the Cambridge School of Art, placing great emphasis on printmaking. Hoyle worked amassing the Collection of Original Works for Children in Cambridgeshire, an art project for City of Cambridge Committee for Education. Hoyle retired in 1985 to move to Hastings and Dieppe.

A personal note from Walter Hoyle.
The new editor of ‘Private View’ (Warwick Hutton) has requested a personal note on my activities since relinquishing my commitment to the Cambridge School of Art (and ‘Private View’) in July, 1985.

I spend most of the summer with my family in Dieppe where we have a flat in the old part of town, near the harbour. As usual, I enjoyed Dieppe and spent my time drawing, painting and recovering from the cool flatness of Cambridge. However, I think that it will take more than one summer to regenerate the energy I spent and lost over the years at Cambridge School of Art. I do not regret the time spent with students — that was very worthwhile — but I do regret the time and energy waster on trying to justify art to the almost blind administration and national authorities, and as somebody said — in the land of the blind the one-eyed is King — or something like that.

At the end of the summer I returned to Cambridge, my faith strengthened by Dieppe and my romantic ideals partially restored. We had decided to sell our Cambridge (Bottisham) house and move to the south coast — it would be easier to commute to Dieppe.


So we cleaned up the house and put it on the market and to my surprise it sold quickly, within three or four days. The prospective buyers who vied the house were fascinated by my studio and etching press — I do not wear a beret or smock, nor do I sport a beard but I think they also found me a curiosity and to top it all, my wife is French and they loved her accent — obviously the right combination for selling property.

We had to dash off to the south coast to look for a house. We started at Brighton — too brash, polished and pretty, Newhaven — a depressingly ugly place, Eastbourne — alright for Aunty, and then Hastings — interesting, rather shabby, a town that has seen better days, very hilly, amazing architecture and many charming Victorian houses for sale. So Hastings it is, a Victorian house with marvellous views above the Old Town.

From the Hastings house I can look out of the window at the sea, this same sea that fills the harbour at Dieppe, and yet Hastings and Dieppe could not be more different, and this variance I find interesting and entertaining. Also, the sky here in Hastings often looks like a Turner or Constable, but viewed from Dieppe it reflects French painters — however, my aim is to work on my own observations and ideas and make both sides of the channel look Hoylish.


 Walter Hoyle – St Catherine’s with Acanthus ,  1966

This I found difficult to do in Cambridge, Its so complete and correct and no doubt the University and its architecture are partly to blame. There is a strong smell of education like sour wine and a lack of effervescence and creative activity, and a feeling prevails that education is the end product rather than the means.

I will now be crossing the channel frequently and I welcome the immediate stimulus of the two sides of La Manche.


 Walter Hoyle  – Senate House Cambridge , 1965

Great Bardfield Artists

The Great Bardfield Artists were a community of artists who lived in Great Bardfield, a village in north west Essex, England, during the middle years of the 20th century. The village’s “open house” exhibitions attracted national press attention and thousands visited the remote village to view art in the artists’ own homes during the summer exhibitions of 1954, 1955 and 1958.


The principal artists who lived there between 1930 and 1970 were John and Lucie Aldridge, Edward Bawden, George Chapman, Stanley Clifford-Smith, his wife Joan Glass, Audrey Cruddas, Walter and Denise Hoyle, Eric Ravilious and Tirzah Garwood, Sheila Robinson, Bernard Cheese, Michael Rothenstein and his wife Duffy Ayers, Kenneth Rowntree and Marianne Straub.


 Edward Bawden CBE RA (1903–1989)

Other artists associated with the group include David Low and Laurence Scarfe. Great Bardfield Artists were diverse in style but shared a love for figurative art, making the group distinct from the better known St Ives School of artists in St Ives, Cornwall, who, after the war, were chiefly dominated by abstractionists. Below are pictures from the 1957 exhibition catalogue.


 John Aldridge RA (26 July 1905–3 May 1983)


 Walter Hoyle (1922–2000)