Blacksmith Stephen wins prestigious award for ornate garden gates

The award-winning gates.
The award-winning gates.

The Duchess of Northumberland has praised blacksmith Stephen Lunn, whose ornate gates for The Alnwick Garden have landed him a prestigious award.

The Red Row-based craftsman was awarded the Tonypandy Cup by the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths, given for a piece considered to be an outstanding example of the skill of a blacksmith.

Blacksmith Stephen Lunn and the Duchess of Northumberland at the unveiling of the gates. Picture by Jane Coltman

Blacksmith Stephen Lunn and the Duchess of Northumberland at the unveiling of the gates. Picture by Jane Coltman

It was presented for the intricate gates he created for the entrance to the Rose Garden, which the Duchess described as magnificent.

She said: “Stephen is an incredibly talented artist and he deserves this award for his creativity and ability.”

The interactive gates were created by Stephen and his daughter Ashlee, in conjunction with electronics engineer Richard Benjamin and glass artist Helen Grierson, and took two years to complete.

They are designed to look like plants, with twisting stems, leaves, thorns, flowers and birds. They play bursts of birdsong when visitors walk past.

Stephen said: “I would describe this as a piece of sculpture and a gate within it. We used traditional methods and forms throughout the piece and it was important that it flowed very well visually. From a distance it looks pretty and floral, then as you get close, you hear the birdsong and see all the thorns and detailed design.

“Technically, this was one of the most intricate and challenging pieces that I have ever been commissioned to produce

“It was a blacksmith’s dream as my daughter and I worked with traditional methods – a lot of fire and hammering, creating flowing designs with colours and sounds as important as the shape and feel.”

He received the Tonypandy Cup at a presentation in the Painters Hall in London.

He said: “I was delighted to receive the award and especially for all the blacksmiths that have trained me during my time learning this traditional craft. To me, they were the true masters, and I will always appreciate their skills and words of wisdom.”

It is the second time he has won the award. In 2010, it was presented for his work on the burial ground gates at Alnwick Castle.

Previous awards have gone to the creators of The Globe Theatre gates in London, and the Churchill Screen in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral.