The Doves Bible Returns to Emery Walker's House

Book sold to establish Trust repurchased after thirty years

Research Curator, Helen Elletson unpacking The Doves Bible. Picture: Lucinda MacPherson

March 2, 2024

The Doves Bible, reputed to be one of the most beautiful and influential books of its day, and the pinnacle of the Doves Press, has returned to Emery Walker’s House, former home to both of the Press’s partners.

The Doves Press was a private printing press jointly founded at the start of the 20th century by Emery Walker and T.J. Cobden-Sanderson, who both lived (at different times) at number 7 Hammersmith Terrace, now an Arts & Crafts museum.

The house, which claims the most authentic Arts & Crafts interiors in the UK, had been saved for the nation in 1990 by selling Emery Walker’s private press collection to set up an endowment for a Trust, which since 1999 has sought to preserve and make the house accessible to the public. This acquisition, thanks to a grant from The Friends of the National Libraries and the ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund brings back into the house’s ownership a Doves Press book for the first time in over 30 years, before it reopens to the public on 2 March.

This marks, quite literally, a red letter day for the house, as five volumes are printed in black interspersed with distinctive red initial letters designed and executed by calligrapher Edward Johnston, who also lived in Hammersmith Terrace. This is one of only 500 copies on paper, bound in their original full vellum, lettered in gilt, uncut, and housed in two custom made, Morocco-edged slipcases with blue ribbon.

For the next two months, the exhibition, Mudlarking: Unearthing London’s Past will feature another historic homecoming for the house. A display of elegant 16pt Doves Type, the "Holy Grail" of the Arts & Crafts movement, which has never been exhibited anywhere until now, will be on display. Until recently, the type and matrixes lay at the bottom of the River Thames, thrown there by Cobden-Sanderson, whose act of revenge against his business partner Walker adds intrigue to its fascinating narrative. The long lost, now painstakingly recovered Doves Type is the star of the exhibition, but other highlights are treasures spanning London's history, thanks to loans from 20 London mudlarks.

These include fossils, prehistoric flint tools, Roman coins and pottery, Medieval pilgrim badges, Tudor fashion accessories, 17th century children's toys, Georgian personal adornments and Victorian curiosities, each revealing their own intriguing story of London’s past.

The spring exhibition and events programme have been guest curated by Jason Sandy, an architect, author and member of the exclusive Society of Thames Mudlarks. Jason, typographer Robert Green, Lukasz Orlinski and Angus McArthur have loaned hundreds of pieces of the Doves alphabet are no longer submerged in the river near Hammersmith Bridge.

Emery Walker’s House at 7 Hammersmith Terrace, W6 reopens for guided tours on 2 March. The exhibition Mudlarking: Unearthing London’s Past runs from 2 March -27 April. Events and tours must be pre booked via

The Emery Walker Trust is a registered charity which aims to preserve and open the House for as many people to enjoy as possible. The Trust also aims to improve knowledge of the Arts & Crafts movement and the life and work of Sir Emery Walker.

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