Nathaniel Hitch was born in Ware, Hertfordshire in 1845, the son of a Joiner and Carpenter. It seems that he showed an early talent for working with his hands as in the vestry of Ware Parish Church there is a small model which he made at the age of 12. Hitch was apprenticed at an early age to Farmer and Brindley, a well-regarded firm of architectural sculptors on Westminster Bridge Road. They did work for the likes of Sir Gilbert Scott and Alfred Waterhouse.The excellent website “victorianweb” states that when serving this apprenticeship Hitch could have worked on the Albert Memorial, Westminster Cathedral and the Natural History Museum, all projects where Farmer & Brindley were used. Hitch would have “carved out rough-hewn forms ready for the master carver to add the fine details and finishing touches to the sculpture.“ He then moved to work for Thomas Nicholls, a sculptor who was working at the time for the architect William Burges on Lord Bute’s Cardiff Castle. In 1891 Nicholls had carved nine sculptures of animals to designs by Burges. Originally on the walls of Cardiff Castle they were moved to Bute Park in the 1920s. Nicholls carved a hyena, a wolf, some apes, a seal, a bear, a lioness, a lynx and 2 different lions. Burges incidentally worked with John Loughborough Pearson, an architect with whom Hitch was to become much associated. Hitch worked with several architects who used him to carve altarpieces, church furniture and other decorative features on churches they were commissioned to design. During his career he worked with H.P. Burke Downing, H. Fuller Clark, W.D. Caröe, Paul Waterhouse and T.H. Lyon but his most productive partnership was with John and Frank Loughborough Pearson. He exhibited only once at the Royal Academy, showing a bust of F. Weekes Esq. there in 1884. For most of his life he ran a small business which was based at 60 Harleyford Road, Battersea, employing several highly skilled masons. Hitch died in 1938 aged 92 and records show that he was still working a year before his death!
Under supervision from Frank Loughborough Pearson, Hitch carved the three porch sculptures at St. Mark's in Barnet Vale. When the porch at St. Mark's was dedicated in 1909 only the central statue of the Good Shepherd was in place, said to have been adapted from a statue in Florence. The statue of St. Mark was added in 1917 in memory of Norman Child who had fallen in the Great War. The final statue, that on the right, was to have been of St. John the Baptist, patron of St. Mark's' mother church, but some years later, in 1926, St. Alban was chosen instead, and his statue was erected in memory of Cyril Catford who also fell in the Great War. A photograph of these statues is shown below.
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