Robert (Mousey) Thompson
Robert Thompson (7 May 1876 – 8 December 1955) was a British furniture
Furniture is the mass noun for the movable objects intended to support various human activities such as seating and sleeping in beds, to hold objects at a convenient height for work using horizontal surfaces above the ground, or to store things...

 maker. He lived in Kilburn, North Yorkshire
Kilburn, North Yorkshire
Kilburn is a small village in North Yorkshire, England that is known for two reasons: the White Horse, and the Mouseman.The White Horse is a figure cut into the hillside to the north of the village, and visible for many miles around on a clear day....

, where he set up a business manufacturing oak
An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus...

 furniture, which featured a carved mouse on almost every piece. It is claimed that the mouse motif came about accidentally in 1919 following a conversation about "being as poor as a church mouse", which took place between Thompson and one of his colleagues during the carving of a cornice
Cornice molding is generally any horizontal decorative molding that crowns any building or furniture element: the cornice over a door or window, for instance, or the cornice around the edge of a pedestal. A simple cornice may be formed just with a crown molding.The function of the projecting...

 for a screen
Rood screen
The rood screen is a common feature in late medieval church architecture. It is typically an ornate partition between the chancel and nave, of more or less open tracery constructed of wood, stone, or wrought iron...

. This chance remark led to him carving a mouse and this remained part of his work from this point onwards.

He was part of the 1920s revival of craftsmanship, inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement
Arts and Crafts movement
Arts and Crafts was an international design philosophy that originated in England and flourished between 1860 and 1910 , continuing its influence until the 1930s...

 led by William Morris
William Morris
William Morris 24 March 18343 October 1896 was an English textile designer, artist, writer, and socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the English Arts and Crafts Movement...

, John Ruskin
John Ruskin
John Ruskin was the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, also an art patron, draughtsman, watercolourist, a prominent social thinker and philanthropist. He wrote on subjects ranging from geology to architecture, myth to ornithology, literature to education, and botany to political...

 and Thomas Carlyle
Thomas Carlyle
Thomas Carlyle was a Scottish satirical writer, essayist, historian and teacher during the Victorian era.He called economics "the dismal science", wrote articles for the Edinburgh Encyclopedia, and became a controversial social commentator.Coming from a strict Calvinist family, Carlyle was...

. More specific to furniture making in this genre and era include Stanley Webb Davies
Stanley Webb Davies
Stanley Webb Davies was one of Great Britain's premier makers of Arts and crafts furniture. Based in Windermere in the Lake District his work was from the same generation of furniture makers as Robert Thompson...

 of Windermere.

The workshop, now being run by his descendants, includes a showroom and visitors' centre, and is located beside the Parish Church, which contains "Mouseman" pew
A pew is a long bench seat or enclosed box used for seating members of a congregation or choir in a church, or sometimes in a courtroom.-Overview:Churches were not commonly furnished with permanent pews before the Protestant Reformation...

s, fittings and other furniture. The company is now known as "Robert Thompson's Craftsmen Ltd - The Mouseman of Kilburn."

Fr Paul Nevill, a former Headmaster of Ampleforth College
Ampleforth College
Ampleforth College in North Yorkshire, England, is the largest Roman Catholic co-educational boarding independent school in the United Kingdom. It opened in 1802, as a boys' school, and is run by the Benedictine monks and lay staff of Ampleforth Abbey...

, asked Thompson to make the Ampleforth Abbey
Ampleforth Abbey
Ampleforth Abbey is a monastery of Benedictine Monks in North Yorkshire, England, part of the English Benedictine Congregation. It claims descent from the pre-Reformation community at Westminster Abbey through the last surviving monk from Westminster Sigebert Buckley.The current Abbot is Fr...

's furniture; they liked it so much that Ampleforth kept asking Thompson for more works, including the library and most of the main building. Fr Gabriel Everitt, current Headmaster, has recently asked the Mouseman company for more work. Most of Ampleforth College houses are decorated with Robert Thompson's furniture.

Others who continue in his style working in Yorkshire oak, have adopted similar identifying marks and nicknames, for example Thomas "Gnomeman" Whittaker (1910-1991), Colin "Beaverman" Almack, Wilf "Squirrelman" Hutchinson, "eagleman", "beaverman" et al..

External links

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